Rugelach (alternate spellings include rugalah, rugala, rugelah, etc.) is a Yiddish pastry going back centuries. Essentially its original shape echoes a crescent, believed to date from the Ottoman siege of Vienna in 1683. Like many older recipes, modern diners might find the desert’s “thickness” a little startling. We live in an age of great bounty. Our taste is for food that tastes wonderful but feels light. Rugelach on the other hand is supposed to fill you up! And does!
Now, this recipe focuses on raspberry, but please do not feel limited to that fruit filling. Strawberries, grapes, blueberries, cinnamon, chocolate and others serve just was well. Just a matter of taste!
Likewise, some folks are allergic to walnuts. Almonds will do fine.
Here are the ingredients for roughly 45-50 of the pastries (they are small so don’t let that number overwhelm you):
- unsalted butter (1 cup)
- vanilla extract (1 teaspoon)
- all purpose flour (2 cups)
- cream cheese (8 oz.)
- crushed/chopped walnuts (1 1/4 cups)
- kosher salt (1/2 teaspoon)
- ground cinnamon (1 teaspoon
- raspberry preserves (1/2 cup)
- sugar (1 cup)
- AAA egg (beaten with 1 tablespoon of water)
Begin by beating together the butter, cream cheese, vanilla, and ⅓ cup of the sugar until you have a smooth, creamy mixture. No reason in the world not to use a food processor if you prefer. Then you stir/mix in the flour and salt. If you are using a word processor, reduce the setting to low. You now have the dough ready, which you should divide into four. Each of the four sections flatten with a rolling pin into a disk shape and wrap in plastic. You’ll want to refridgerate this at least two hours to get it nice and solid. More than two hours is fine.
Next, prepare the glaze or topping for your pastry. Blend the walnuts, the cinnamon, and the remaining ⅔ cup of sugar together into a bowl. One way or another the nuts (whichever you use) must end up ground. Again, a food processor works just fine, but if you start with ground nuts then you save yourself some labor. Just blend the mixture thoroughly. Put all this into two bowls. One should contain about 1/2 of a cup. The other bowl is for thefilling!
Preheat an oven to 325° F. Also, place parchment down on two cookie sheets.
Take each of the dough disks, placing each on a lightly floured surface. The filling consists of what you put aside from the topping mixed with the raspberry preserves. Or, alternately, you may want to spread the preserves evenly across the dough then sprinkle the nuts/cinnamon mixture atop that.
Cut the disks into twelve equal slices each, just as you would a pizza. In fact a pizza cutter works very well for this part of the process for exactly that reason. Then roll them up, starting at the outer (wider) edge. What you then have resembles ever-so-slightly a small crescent roll. Do the same for each of the four disks. Place each pastry on the cookie sheets, roughly two inches apart. Brush each one with the egg mixture and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of the nutty topping.
Now bake for thirty to thirty five minutes (each oven tends to be a little bit different). Immediately remove the rugelach (use tongs, they will be hot) to cool, preferably on a wire rack. One great advantage of this pastry is that if kept in an airtight container it will remain “good” for up to five days!
One may substitute sour cream instead of cream cheese, or even ricotta cheese if one really wants to make a “light” version.