You would think that after my miserable failure at a traditional Jewish dessert, I would be too afraid to soldier on. You would think wrong. Somehow I still took on these little crescent shaped rolls that are of Ashkenazic Jewish origin. Their name - "rugelach" means little twists or little corners in Yiddish.
The dough for these is incredibly simple - just four ingredients, one of which is salt - and comes together really quickly if you have a food processor. And then - the fillings. You can go wild. Mix, match, mismatch, mismix (is that a word?) and put whatever you want in these things.
I made two variations - one that was raspberry jam with mini chocolate chips...
...and the other cocoa, cinnamon and more chocolate chips - you could also use chopped chocolate. (If using cocoa brush the dough with a little melted butter or oil).
After the dough is rolled into a circle and sprinkled/spread/coated with the filling of your choice, the rest is pretty simple. A pizza cutter comes in handy for slicing the circle into sixteen (sort-of) equal pieces. Then comes the fun part - rolling! Try not to lose any filling.
The rolled up cookies get brushed with egg, sprinkled with sugar (there is none in the dough) and baked.
If you can wait for them to cool before eating, then I applaud you. If not, then wait at least a few minutes so you don't burn your mouth.
I'd definitely love to try these again with more variations - different jams, maybe a chocolate ganache, raisins or other dried fruits, and if I'm baking for others even some chopped nuts.
Tip of the Day: If you don't have a food processor, at least invest in a pastry cutter (I have this one) - to cut your butter (or cream cheese) into dry ingredients evenly and quickly.
Recipe: (adapted from from Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours)
Note: I used Tofutti's soy cream cheese and thought they were still great.
4 ounces cold cream cheese
1 stick (1/2 cup) cold butter or margarine
1 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
2/3 cup jam of your choice
sugar and cinnamon for sprinkling
anything else you want to add
1 tsp cold water
2 tbsp sugar
Put flour and salt in the bowl of a a food processor, and scatter the cream cheese and butter in chunks on top. Pulse the machine six to ten times, scraping down the sides as necessary, until dough comes together.
Turn the dough out, gather it into a ball, divide it in two, and refrigerate each half in plastic wrap for at least two hours.
Working with one packet of dough at a time, on a lightly floured surface, roll out into an 11 to 12 inch circle.
Spread jam on top and sprinkle with cinnamon, sugar and any additional toppings - nuts, chocolate, raisins, etc. Use a piece of parchment or wax paper to press the filling gently into the dough.
Slice the dough into quarters, then eights, then sixteenths, taking care so the wedges are as even as possible.
Starting at the outside rim of each triangle (the base), roll each triangle up so that it becomes a little crescent. Make sure points are tucked under the cookie, and arrange on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
Repeat with the second packet of dough.
Refrigerate the rugelach for at least 30 minutes before baking.
Stir the egg and water together, and brush over the cookies. Sprinkle with sugar - coarse is preferable.
Bake on 350 F for 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from from the trays and place on a cooling rack to cool.