Rugelach is definitely a dessert I remember fondly from my childhood. While my mother didn’t do a lot of baking, she did sometimes bring home some treats from the local store. Rugelach was something that we both shared a fondness of and looked forward to on special occasions.
This dessert is highly addictive! I have to save a few for myself and send the rest away or else I’ll get myself into trouble. It is sweet, but not too sweet – the richness of the cream cheese in the dough helps create balance. It’s soft but crunchy, buttery and just a bit flaky. Honestly, for a very long time I thought rugelach would be too difficult of an endeavor to create at home, and I am so glad I was completely wrong! Difficult? Not so much. However, it is a pretty messy thing to create – it’d be a great project to do with your kids.
Yield: 32 cookies – Baking Temperature: 375F – Baking Time: 20 to 22 minutes
For the dough you’ll need:
- 1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 tablespoon Sugar
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- 1/2 teaspoon Salt (omit if you’re using salted butter)
- 1 cup All Purpose Flour
For the filling:
- 1/3 cup Sugar
- 1 tablespoon ground Cinnamon
- 1/2 cup Apricot Jam
- 1 cup finely chopped (and preferably toasted) Walnuts
- 1/2 cup Golden Raisins (optional)
- 2 tablespoons Unsalted Butter, melted
- 1/2 cup Strawberry Jam
- 1 cup finely chopped and toasted Walnuts
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed Orange Juice
- 2 teaspoons Orange Zest
- Sparkling Sugar
In a large bowl, or in the bowl of a stand mixer, add your butter, cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, and salt. Beat on medium speed for 3 to 5 minutes, or until fluffy. Make sure to stop mixing and scrape down the bottom and sides of your bowl every so often to make sure everything is being combined thoroughly.
Reduce the speed to low and mix in your flour until combined – about 30 seconds.
On a well floured counter, turn out your dough and roughly shape it into a ball and then divide it equally in half. I like to weigh mine, but that’s not a necessity. Pat each piece into a disk and wrap them up in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for about one hour, or until they are firm.
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and adjust the racks to the upper-middle and lower-middle positions. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a small bowl mix your sugar and cinnamon.
Roll each piece of dough out on a floured surface to about 1/4 inch thick, and about 11 to 12 inches round. The diameter isn’t critical as long as it isn’t too terribly small.
Spread about 1/4 cup of the jam on each piece of rolled out dough, then sprinkle each with 1/2 cup of walnuts and 1/4 cup of the raisins (if using them). Sprinkle with about 1 tablespoon of the cinnamon sugar.
If using the alternate filling: in a small bowl combine your strawberry jam (or honestly, whatever kind of jam you want), the orange juice, and orange zest. Combine. Spread 1/4 cup of the jam on each round, top with 1/2 cup of nuts. The sparkling sugar will come at the end when we roll these beauties up and throw some melted butter on them.
Using a pizza cutter, knife, or pastry wheel… in other words, anything that can cut, cut each round of dough into 16 even pieces. This can be a little challenging with the nuts, so a sharp cutting utensil is handy. However, even if you can’t get a perfectly even 16 wedges, your rugelach will still be awesome. I promise.
Rough and uneven edges wont affect the final product.
Starting at the end, roll up each piece into an awesome and adorable little “cookie.” Sorry, I have a tough time calling these cookies, but I guess they have to be classified as something, right?
Note: Try to be conservative with your jam filling. If it feels like you’re using a bit much, just reduce it. I could have stood to use a tablespoon or so less of the jam as I kind of used generous 1/4 cups.. Anyway, end result is that the filling oozes out and burns, and burned jam is bitter. You will have a little oozing regardless, but if there’s a ton it will burn, so the goal is to minimize it.
Transfer to your prepared baking sheet, laying them about two inches apart. Now the fun part, melt your 2 tablespoons of butter and paint your cookies with it!
Top the cookies generously with either your cinnamon sugar, or, if you’re using the strawberry filling, sprinkle with sparkling sugar. Sparkling sugar is sometimes called finishing sugar, it’s just a coarse texture that wont dissolve while baking.
Bake these for about 20 minutes, or until lightly golden and slightly puffy. Halfway through baking you will want to rotate the baking sheets – swap top to bottom.
When finished baking, transfer them immediately to a wire cooling rack. Then..then the hard part. Resisting temptation for an hour until they are completely cooled. Unfortunately, hot sugar is unbelievably painful on the tongue. So, patiently we wait.
Sorry for the lack of picture on the baking sheet right out of the oven, I think it got deleted on accident. As you can see in the photo above I made both filling versions. Both delicious! The strawberries felt more like summer while the apricot felt more like fall.
This recipe can be made ahead of time, the dough can stay happily in the fridge for 3 days. You may need to let it sit at room temperature for about 10 minutes before rolling out, depending on the temperature of your kitchen.
Anyway, once cooled, enjoy!