I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve wanted to bake rugelach but didn’t get around to actually doing it. Which is basically an epic fail on my part, because having made them now, I can’t wait to try again.
A beloved Jewish dessert, these sweet, flaky pastry cookies were given a modern twist at the turn of the century when American Jewish families started using cream cheese to make the dough. In all honesty, using cream cheese in pastry is a stroke of genius because the result is a delicious cookie, flaky on the inside, crispy on the outside.
There will be a bit of faffing about, with rolling, refrigerating and baking involved. You’ll be pleased to know however that the quantity of dough below makes up to 60 rugelach, depending on how small you roll the crescents. That is a super decent haul – enough to package a few for Christmas gifts and leave some for you to enjoy too.
To make the cream cheese pastry, you’ll need:
227g unsalted butter, cold, cubed
270g plain white flour
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
226g cream cheese, cold
1 egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
1 pinch of salt
icing sugar (for dusting surface and rolling pastry)
+ 1 batch filling; ideas:
Any smooth jam
Peanut butter and chocolate
Nuts or nut butters
Nutella (my choice in this case, minimal fuss, great delivery :D)
For the pastry, combine the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor.
Add the cubed butter and try to cube the cream cheese in the flour mix as well.
Pulse a few times to combine.
Add the egg yolk and vanilla, then use the food processor to mix ingredients until dough comes together in clumps.
Turn onto work surface and use your hands to bring the clumps together.
Divide in 2 or 4 portions, flatten into disks and wrap in plastic wrap. Dividing the dough at this stage makes it more manageable to roll and fill later.
Refrigerate the dough for min 2 hours and up to 2 days. You can also freeze it for up to 3 months.
When you’re ready to make the cookies, preheat oven at 180C and get your filling ready.
Get a couple of baking trays ready, covered with baking parchment.
Dust work surface and rolling pin generously with icing sugar.
Unwrap one disk of dough and allow to come to room temperature for 2 – 3 minutes.
Sprinkle dough surface with icing sugar, then roll in a rough circle shape, until dough is as thin as you dare.
Spoon filling of choice and spread in even layer on the pastry, reaching all the way to the edges. I used Nutella, probably about 150g for the total amount of dough.
Using a sharp knife or a pizza cutter, slice the pastry in wedges, starting from the middle.
Roll wedges from the outer sides. Place on baking sheet, ensuring the seam is tucked underneath.
Place baking tray in the fridge for 20 mins.
Bake until golden, approx 20 minutes, rotating the tray half way for an even bake.
Cool on the tray for a few minutes then remove to a wire rack.
Repeat with next batches.
A few additional notes on fillings and baking:
– if using jam, try to counterbalance the watery nature of the filling by sprinkling some finely chopped nuts (think sesame seed size);
-if using jam alone, try lowering the temperature of the oven by a few degrees and keep a close eye on the cookies while they bake; some jam will seep out and you want to make sure bottom of cookies does not burn.