Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Rugelach for Chanukah

If you read the title correctly and out loud, you should be choking on a bit of phlegm right now. Take a moment to sort yourself out.

All sorted? Good.

I mentioned on Christmas that I made a yummy Jewish cookie to bring to a very non-Jewish event that happened to land on a Jewish holiday.

Rugelach are often made for Chanukah as well as other holidays because they are so delicious. The secret is in the cream cheese crust! Seriously, how smart are Jews?! We put cream cheese in everything! On our bagels, in our kugels, and in the creme de la creme of little pastry cookies — Rugelach!

When I started thinking about desserts to bring to my cousins' last Saturday, rugelach didn't even make my initial top 5 list. This is because rugelach can go from melty, sweet, and delicious to dried out and tasteless all too easily. You know the supermarket kind that looks good enough until you bite into a rugelach and it crumbles in your mouth? Rugelach should NOT crumble. It should never get so dry!

I decided that I would make a batch of rugelach if I could find a recipe that could stand up in a competition against Zabar's rugelach, or better yet, Marzipan rugelach from Jerusalem — the best rugelach EVER! If either of those recipes exist online, they evaded my 20 minute search.

However, Food Network's Ina Garten's Rugelach recipe looked pretty promising. First ingredient: cream cheese. Check. Second ingredient: Butter. double check. I decided to use her recipe for the dough, but skip her filling recipe. Raisins? Apricot Jam? No thanks. I'm a rugelach purist. Chocolate and/or cinnamon sugar!

Rugelach (recipe from Food Network)
Makes 4 dozen rugelach cookies
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • A healthy amount of cinnamon sugar for a base (lots of sugar, lots of cinnamon — no measurements necessary, just assume more is better)
  • EITHER: 2 ounces of finely chopped bittersweet chocolate per circle of dough OR a handful or two of chopped walnuts per circle of dough
Egg Wash:
  • 1 egg, beaten with 1 teaspoon milk

  • Cream the cheese and butter in a medium bowl until light and fluffy 
  • Add sugar, salt, and vanilla and mix again
  • With the mixer on low speed, add the flour and mix until just combined
  • Dump the dough out onto a well-floured surface and roll it into a ball
  • Cut the ball in quarters, wrap each piece in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or overnight
  • Working with one ball of dough at a time (while the rest wait in the refrigerator), on a well-floured surface, roll each ball of dough into a circle until it is about 1/8 inch thick
  • Spread the dough with filling, and press lightly into dough
  • Cut the circle into 12 equal wedges, cutting the whole circle in quarters, then each quarter into thirds
  • Starting with the wide edge, roll up each wedge
  • Place the cookies, points tucked under, on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and chill for 30 minutes
  • Preheat oven to 250 degrees F
  • Brush chilled cookies with egg wash
  • Optional: sprinkle with cinnamon sugar
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes or until lightly browned

I thought the cinnamon walnut rugelach were the best but all 4 dozen were very quickly devoured and raved over!

CHappy Chanukah and CHappy Baking! (pronounced with phlegm)

UPDATE: I've shared this post on a blog carnival. Check out the other submissions!

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