I’ll admit, I was a bit grumpy. I was coming down with my husband’s cold, and it gets dark so early these days, I didn’t feel like cooking, and yada yada whine whine. But I had already made the dough for rugelach, during the afternoon when it was still sunny and I had motivation. I felt far too guilty not to follow through, despite my pissy mood, so I went ahead and finished them. And what do you know…they were great! I was much cheered up. (I was also cheered by the extremely gooey cauliflower-cheese pasta that we decided to make for dinner at the last second, but you don’t want to hear about that, do you? We’re talking about cookies here.)
This was the first time I’d ever made rugelach, and I’m very pleased to report that they were quite easy, as well as tasty. They’re a very grown-up cookie, hardly sweet at all, with a lovely chewy-crumbly texture. I had studied recipes from both Dorie Greenspan and Cook’s Illustrated, and I went with Dorie’s because it seemed to make a much more reasonable amount. Plus, she observes that, when making rugelach, you practically have to deviate from the written recipe to put your own stamp on it – that’s my kind of cookbook writer. I made mine with apricot jam, dried cranberries and pecans, but you could just as well use raspberry jam and chocolate chips, or marmalade and walnuts, or rhubarb jam and almonds…hmmm, maybe I should make another batch.
adapted from Baking: From my Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan
- 1 cup flour
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 stick unsalted butter
- 4 oz cream cheese
- 1/2 cup apricot preserves
- cinnamon sugar
- 1/4 cup pecans, chopped
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries, chopped
Cut the butter and cream cheese each into 4 pieces, and let them sit out for ten minutes to soften slightly. Measure the flour and salt into a food processor, toss the butter and cream cheese on top, and pulse half a dozen times. Then process until the dough forms large curds – do not overprocess. Scrape it out, gather it into a ball, divide into two pieces and flatten them into disks. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a couple of hours.
Once you have convinced yourself to continue, take the dough out of the fridge and let it warm just slightly. On a lightly floured surface, roll out one disk into a circle 11 inches wide. Spread half the apricot preserves over it. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar, then distribute half the pecans and cranberries evenly over it all.
Use a pizza cutter to cut the dough into 16 equal triangles. Roll each one up, starting from the wide end. Lay the crescents on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Repeat with the other half of the dough. When the sheet is full, stick it in the freezer for 15 minutes.
Heat the oven to 350°. Take the cookies out of the freezer and put them straight into the oven. Bake 20-25 minutes; they will get puffy and slightly golden. Put on a cooling rack and begin eating as soon as the jam is cool enough. Excellent with tea or a glass of white wine.