In my Bake for the Memories post, I mentioned our rugelach and how proud we were that our favorite baker awarded these tasty gems her esteemed stamp of approval as equaling, or perhaps even besting her best effort. So now I share with you our journey over the last few days of making 16 dozen rugelach – 1/2 to gobble up now, share with friends and enjoy at our family’s late-arriving Hannukah party this coming Saturday night. The other half is in the freezer, awaiting my daughter’s upcoming Bat Mitzvah.
Rugelach is a traditional Jewish pastry with a rich butter, cream cheese, and in this case sour cream dough filled with a mixture of nuts, currants, chocolate, and cinnamon sugar. Besides the chocolate, the other fabulous part of this recipe is the apricot jam that lines the dough and tops it after they are rolled into crescent-shaped beauties.
I originally found this recipe in Food and Wine magazine (here goes the age give-away) from December 1990. It was an article about Hannukah by Susan Shapiro Jaslove. This is a wonderful recipe from Susan Shapiro Jaslove’s family that we really have found no reason to modify. But I have compiled some tips for easier prep over the years.
As my daughter said yesterday when I complained that I’d only had one and they were almost gone: “You have to be aggressive, Mom, if you want to eat rugelach.” They are really yummy and will disappear fast so enjoy every bite, but do it quickly!
(Photos courtesy of Dormant Chef and his son, Tech Savvy Teen)
- 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
- 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)
- 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 tblsps 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.) 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.
- In a medium bowl, combine the chocolate, walnuts, currants, cinnamon, and the remaining 3 tblsp sugar. Set aside at room temperature. (make ahead or combine right before you roll the rugelach)
Rolling the Rugelach
- 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.
- Brush 2 tblsps of the apricot preserves over the dough. (If the preserves are bit thick, add a bit of water, heat just a bit 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.
- 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.
Baking the Rugelach
- Lightly brush the tops of the rugelach with the remaining apricot preserves. 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 2 weeks; let return to room temperature before serving.)
Tips for making the rugelach:
- Make the dough the day before, cut each single recipe of dough into 4 pieces, wrap, and refrigerate overnight.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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. So 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.