Chocolate Rugelach with Apricot Jam and Currants with Step-by-Step Instructions

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Chocolate Rugelach is our family’s trademark baked good. Over the years, we perfected our techniques. But you don’t need years to learn – just read this post or my orange cranberry rugelach recipe and you’ll be a rugelach expert in no time at all! (Post first published Dec 2010, updated Dec 2019)

lots of chocolate rugelach on a purple plate

Award Winning Chocolate Rugelach

Everybody has a food story. If our family had to choose just one story – it would be about these chocolate rugelach with currants and apricot jam. We’ve been making them since December 1990 when we found the original recipe in a Hanukkah article in Food and Wine by Susan Shapiro Jaslove.

When our chocolate rugelach won our favorite cookie baker’s stamp of approval we knew we would have to make these little rolled pastries forever. We’ve tweaked the technique over the years and I’ve experimented with different ingredients for the filling. But the combination of a chocolate-based filling with the tangy apricot jam is always our family favorite.

What does the word Rugelach mean?

Rugelach is a Yiddish word that means “little twists”. Some believe that the origin is the Polish word “rogal” that means royal. I’m going with the little twists definition because it just makes sense to me.

How do you Pronounce Rugelach?

There is an alternative spelling with an “a” – rug.a.lach. Many pronunciation guides suggest it’s a long U in “ru”, then a short E or A “ge” or “ga”, and then a “la” (as in fa la la) with a guttural CH sound at the end. I’ll admit I may not always pronounce it correctly as you can see by the name we gave our rugelach one year: Uncle Dougalah’s Rugelach. No matter how you pronounce it, just make some – they’re addicting and delicious.

a white box filled with rugelach

At one point, our rugelach became known as Uncle Dougalah’s Rugelach!

What is Rugelach?

Rugelach is a traditional Jewish pastry, small enough to be eaten in one or two bites, with a rich butter, cream cheese, and in this case sour cream dough. This chocolate rugelach is filled with a mixture of nuts, currants, chocolate, and cinnamon sugar and lined and topped with apricot jam. But it turns out that rugelach dough is not always cream cheese-based.

What makes Rugelach Dough Different than other Doughs?

Rugelach dough, as we know it in the United States, is cream cheese-based with no yeast. The use of cream cheese in dough apparently was a marketing effort by Kraft (Philadelphia Cream Cheese) and Borden as a way to simplify the dough making process. Who exactly made the first cream cheese dough rugelach is not clear but it happened around 1939. If you are a food history buff, you can read more details in this Tablet article.

The original rugelach style pastries were yeast-based and originated in Eastern Europe. Interestingly, If you go to Israel today, rugelach there is still made with yeast. They look like mini chocolate croissants with a shiny glaze.

chocolate rugelach in Israel at Machane Yehuda market

Chocolate Rugelach at the Machane Yehuda Market in Jerusalem, Israel

Another unique element of rugelach dough is that it has very little or no sugar in it. This less sweet dough balances a sweeter and very flavorful interior.

What is the Difference between Rugelach and Schnecken?

My rugelach dough recipe has a bit of sour cream in it based on the original recipe in Food and Wine. Upon doing more research on the origin of cream cheese rugelach dough. I discovered a German pastry called Schnecken. Schnecken means “snail” and refers to the rolled-up style of the schnecken pastry that some believe is similar to a rugelach.

But schnecken dough is sour cream based! Perhaps this dough’s origin was influenced by a schnecken dough with sour cream in it. In any case, I love the texture and tang of the dough with both the cream cheese and sour cream and have never wanted to make it any other way.

chocolate rugelach filling on a spoon

What is the Classic Rugelach Filling?

The most common filling includes nuts, cinnamon, and sugar and possibly some raisins or currants. But the addition of chocolate takes these to a whole new level. And the jam, whether apricot or raspberry or a whole host of other choices adds another layer of complexity to each little bite.

What is the Traditional Holiday for Chocolate Rugelach?

To be honest, there isn’t one. We started making them at Hanukkah time because of that article we read way back in December 1990. Once we started making them, we never stopped because they are so beloved and so darn good! Some people make them around Rosh Hashanah – the Jewish New Year. But honestly, these mini pastries are a perfect match for your morning coffee, your afternoon tea and also are superstars on a holiday cookie swap table. And you certainly don’t need to be Jewish to enjoy them.

long table with cookies spread out for a cookie party

An annual cookie party spread with chocolate rugelach as one of the baked goods.

Can you Freeze Rugelach?

The other reason you should eat these beautiful little pastries year-round is that they freeze so well. Wrap them securely before you freeze them and they should last at least three months in your freezer. But I’ll be honest, I once found some a bit older than that and ate them, and they were still quite good.

What Kind of Chocolate, Jam, Cream Cheese and Butter is Best?

  • For the chocolate, I generally use semi-sweet and I admit I take a short cut. Yes, buying a chunk of high-quality chocolate and chopping it up is ideal. But when you are making a lot of these beauties, mini chocolate chips work so well! Just use the best quality minis you can find.
  • As for the jam, if I don’t have homemade jam available, I find the Bonne Maman apricot jam is outstanding (not an ad – just what we use).
  • For the cream cheese, use any brand of brick-style cream cheese, not whipped.
  • And for the butter, I use standard unsalted sticks, not a European style of butter. This recipe is not proportioned for the different fat content of European style butter and it will not work well using it (we know from experience).

uncooked rugelach ready to bake on white parchment

Tips for making Chocolate Rugelach

  • Make the dough the day before, cut each single recipe of dough into 4 pieces, wrap, and refrigerate overnight. I make a double batch of dough and figured out that each dough ball should weigh about 5.75 ounces when I portion them out. No need to be that precise but if you are into precision, there you have it.

rugelach dough measured out on scale

  • When rolling out the dough, only take one piece out of the refrigerator at a time. If possible, roll out on marble or granite and use a marble rolling pin or a cold rolling pin. If you are working in a team of two or more (recommended but not required) you can try to roll out two dough rounds at a time. But don’t try this the first time – wait until you are used to handling this very rich, melty dough.

Process photos showing how to roll out rugelach dough

  • To save time, buy mini semi-sweet chocolate chips – eliminates the time and mess of chopping chocolate. Do the same with walnuts – buy them already chopped.
  • Buy good quality apricot preserves – they taste great and spread the easiest.
  • Use a pizza cutter to cut the dough circles into the 12 pie-shaped pieces for rolling.

Process shots showing how to roll rugelach pastries

  • Just use regular unsalted butter – don’t use the fancier butters that are available at gourmet stores – the fat content is different and the dough doesn’t come out right. We learned that the hard way.
  • These freeze really well. Don’t hesitate to double the dough recipe and make extra.
  • Bake on parchment or silicone mats. So much easier when they come out of the oven.
  • After you have a sheet pan of rugelach ready to be baked, pop them in the fridge to firm up. They bake up so much better if you take the time to do this.
  • Break this process up into parts or invite a friend over to help roll. I’ve done it both ways – all alone in steps or with my family and/or friends helping. Remember you can make the dough and refrigerate overnight or longer. You can make the filling and keep it in a cool dry place.
  • Before you start rolling out the dough and forming the rugelach, get all your tools and ingredients ready to go and then get the assembly line going!

mise en place for making chocolate rugelach

  • If you need to make a nut-less version for someone with a nut allergy, be sure to make that batch first, before you begin the nut-filled assembly line.
dad and two kids making rugelach on a kitchen counter

My son and daughter helping dad make rugelach circa 2004

As my daughter once said when I complained that I’d only had one rugelach and they were almost gone: “You have to be aggressive, Mom, if you want to eat rugelach.” They will disappear fast so enjoy every bite, but do it quickly!

beauty shot of rugelach lined up on warming tray with filling in the background

Be sure to check out my cranberry orange rugelach as well – a recipe I developed in honor of my aunt who loved cranberry orange anything!

Supplies for Making Chocolate Rugelach with Apricot Jam and Currants

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lots of chocolate rugelach on a purple plate
5 from 5 votes
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Chocolate Rugelach with Apricot Jam and Currants

Chocolate rugelach will become your family's favorite cookie for the holidays. Filled with nuts and chocolate and currants and apricot jam, this tiny rolled pastry is full of big flavor all year long.

Course Dessert
Cuisine Jewish Holiday Baking
Keyword chocolate rugelach, cream cheese dough, rugalach
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 40 minutes
Servings 48 servings
Calories 81 kcal

Ingredients

Dough:

  • 2 sticks of unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 4 ounces cream cheese (room temperature)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour

Filling:

  • 8 ounces semisweet chocolate (chopped or use mini chips for a short cut)
  • 1 cup walnuts (toasted and chopped)
  • 1/3 cup currants
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 3/4 cup apricot preserves (homemade or store-bought)

Instructions

The Dough

  1. In a large bowl, beat the butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer on high speed until soft and creamy, about 1 minute. Mix in the sour cream and 2 tablespoons of the sugar until well combined, about 1 minute. Stir in the flour by hand until well blended. (I use the mixer to fold in the flour but it can get messy so be careful.)

    Adding sour cream to cream cheese/butter mixture
  2. Put the dough on your work surface (could just be parchment) and separate out into four equal pieces (eyeball it or use a scale) Wrap each piece in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, overnight, or even a few days. Or freeze.

    rugelach dough measured out on scale

The Filling

  1. In a medium bowl, combine the chocolate, walnuts, currants, cinnamon, and the remaining 3 tablespoons of sugar. Set aside at room temperature. (make ahead or combine right before you roll the rugelach)

Rolling the Rugelach

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Remove one dough ball from the refrigerator. On a lightly floured surface, form the dough into a ball and flatten it out. Roll the dough into a circle about 10 inches in diameter and 1/8 inch thick.
  2. Brush 2 tablespoons of the apricot preserves over the dough. (If the preserves are bit thick, add a bit of water, heat briefly in the microwave and mix well to loosen them up.) Sprinkle 2/3 cup of the chocolate mixture evenly over the dough and press down gently. Cut the dough into 12 triangles using a pizza cutter. Starting with the first triangle, roll the dough tightly, but carefully, from the wide end toward the point. Roll tightly but gently at the same time.

    spreading apricot jam on rugelach dough
  3. Place the rugelach, with the pointed side underneath, on a large ungreased cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Roll up the remaining triangles in the same manner and arrange them on the sheet, about ½ inch apart. Repeat with the remaining dough, preserves and chocolate mixture; the rugelach will fit on 2 large cookie sheets.
  4. Lightly brush the tops of the rugelach with the remaining apricot preserves. As each pan of rugelach is completed, pop it in the refrigerator to chill back up. It will help them bake without flopping open.

Baking the Rugelach

  1. Bake, switching the sheets after 20 minutes, for 35 to 40 minutes, or until well browned. Immediately transfer the rugelach to a rack to cool. (The rugelach can be frozen, well wrapped, for up to 3 months; let return to room temperature before serving.)

    finished rugelach lined up on rack

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31 Responses to Chocolate Rugelach with Apricot Jam and Currants with Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. Sandi December 6, 2019 at 2:35 pm #

    5 stars
    This looks just like my husband’s grandma’s rugelach! My gluten free version doesn’t look even remotely as good.

    • Beth Lee December 7, 2019 at 8:28 am #

      Well thank you so much but let’s work on that!

  2. Sophie Heath December 6, 2019 at 1:41 pm #

    5 stars
    Absolutely delicious! So yummy and a new family favorite!

    • Beth Lee December 6, 2019 at 2:05 pm #

      So glad you like them – we can’t get enough of them around here!

  3. Lucy Parissi December 6, 2019 at 1:38 pm #

    5 stars
    I think your decision to include chocolate is excellent. They are delicious little treats.

    • Beth Lee December 6, 2019 at 2:04 pm #

      Thank Lucy – what isn’t better with a little chocolate right?!!!

  4. Laura December 5, 2019 at 6:55 pm #

    5 stars
    Beth, you make this look so easy! I have not enjoyed good rugelach since I left Miami! I can’t wait to try your recipe and enjoy authentic rugelach again! YUM!

    • Beth Lee December 6, 2019 at 10:09 am #

      TBH, I have found very little good rugelach commercially. You’ll love these and I would be thrilled if you made them sometime. A piece of cake (no pun intended) compared to your decorated baked goods!!!

  5. Betsy @ Desserts Required December 9, 2014 at 7:55 pm #

    I think you have a very smart daughter because you have to be aggressive when it comes to rugelach and your recipe is divine! Great tips, too. 🙂

  6. Jean Lynd March 1, 2012 at 6:21 pm #

    I’ve never even heard of Rugelach, but you had me at “chocolate & walnuts”!

  7. [email protected]! March 1, 2012 at 7:14 am #

    I actually make these but my kids call them snail cookies, can’t pronounce rugelach 🙂
    I’ve only ever used nuts and cinnamon sugar as my filling but chocolate would be really tasty.

  8. Tara @ secretsofamomaholic.com March 1, 2012 at 6:46 am #

    Looks like a lot of work…can’t I just come have some of yours? Hahaha

  9. MARIE COLE March 1, 2012 at 5:51 am #

    That looks like a lot of hard work, but ooohhhhh soooo YUM!

  10. cinnybear January 5, 2011 at 1:42 pm #

    Hi! Love the detailed instructions – will be making this recipe this week! Do you freeze them before they are baked or after?

    • omgyummy January 5, 2011 at 4:06 pm #

      Thanks for stopping by my blog. So glad you enjoyed the rugelach post. Please let me know how yours turn out.

      I’ve never frozen them before I baked them. Thinking through it, it might be an option, though I wouldn’t put the jam on until you actually bake them. But my experience has been freezing them after you bake them. And they have always been excellent. They really don’t degrade at all from freezing. I just layer them with wax paper in a tupperware and then take them out the day that I want to serve them. Nobody ever knows the difference.

      Another option — you could probably freeze just the dough for a few weeks, defrost, and then make them, similar to what you can do with pie dough.

      Enjoy and stop back again soon.

  11. Mommyof2Girlz/Steph January 3, 2011 at 11:31 am #

    Okay so your blog name is perfect because all I want to say to this post is OMG yummy!

  12. Vicki December 28, 2010 at 7:10 am #

    OMG I am SO glad you visited my blog on my SITS day so that I in-turn discovered YOUR blog.
    My fiance was so excited when I shared this post with him.

    Great post, great recipe – can’t wait to try!
    YUM!

  13. freshandfoodie December 23, 2010 at 7:18 am #

    Great post! I love rugelach but have never made myself. Maybe now I will! Bookmarking 🙂

  14. rsmacaalay December 23, 2010 at 2:15 am #

    Wow that definitely is an award winning recipe, I hope I was the judge 🙂

    Raymund
    http://angsarap.wordpress.com

  15. Irene Saiger December 20, 2010 at 8:14 pm #

    They look amazing. I am off to Houston next month for my future daughter-in-law’s shower, may have to bring these!

    • omgyummy December 21, 2010 at 8:01 am #

      Hi Irene – they would be perfect! You can make them ahead, freeze them, and package them easily for travel. What an exciting time for you – enjoy the shower!

  16. saminacooks December 17, 2010 at 8:13 am #

    omg, this looks so wonderful! I loved the pictures! I wish I had your kitchen countertops! I am definitely going to try making this next time I try to make Rugelach.

    • omgyummy December 21, 2010 at 8:04 am #

      We love our countertops too — thanks for noticing :-). Rugelach are labor intensive but not hard if you are organized and they are so worth the effort. I noticed you used a different method to make them – rolling a rectangle of dough, filling, and rolling and cutting like a cinnamon roll. We are going to try that next time too to see if it speeds things up or improves the process! There’s always more to learn!

  17. Christina December 17, 2010 at 7:53 am #

    I LOVE rugelach but always thought they looked too difficult to attempt at home. Your recipe doesn’t seem too difficult, though!

    • omgyummy December 21, 2010 at 8:05 am #

      It’s not too hard and it’s well worth the effort. Give them a try and let me know how it goes!

  18. Hayidan's Intuition December 16, 2010 at 1:17 pm #

    im gonna have to try this out. thanks..stopping by from SITs 😉

  19. Jun Belen December 15, 2010 at 4:00 pm #

    You beat me to it! I was about to write this note and then I saw your comment in my blog. Rugelachs have been on my never-ending to-bake-list. Have you had the chocolate covered cherry rugelachs from Noe Valley Bakery? I love those! And yours look sooooo good, I want some now! Thank you for sharing the recipe. I’m glad you included the photos!!

    • omgyummy December 15, 2010 at 4:27 pm #

      Thanks for stopping by Jun! Next visit to my niece in the city will have to include a trip to Noe Valley. We haven’t had their rugelach but they sound very intriguing – can’t imagine the chocolate-covered step – that must be interesting to make but oh so yummy to eat.

      Give rugelach-baking a try – they are labor-intensive but because the recipe doubles well, they freeze so well, and really they are so scrumptious from breakfast all the way to dessert, that I think they are really worth the effort.

  20. sandy corman December 15, 2010 at 2:56 pm #

    Oh My God Yummy, Yummy, Yummy. Save some for Papa and me.

    • omgyummy December 15, 2010 at 4:22 pm #

      Bringing several dozen to the Hannukah Bash Saturday night. Never fear. We may be out in our house but the freezer is full!

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