You see that beautiful Rugelach right there…it comes from a rolled out ball of dough and yes, you can make it. I am sure of it.
Let’s get started with two simple truths: 1) Full fat cream cheese is magical (until yesterday, I think I have only had the low-fat variety for about the last ten years)! 2) Rolling out dough is as simple as it used to be when you were in preschool and it was called Playdoh. I think I may have to start a self-help message board on my site for rolling-out-dough phobes. Many of you guys have written in to confess about your fear of rolling out dough and, honestly, I am a bit perplexed.
I have phobias, sure. Fear of falling is a big one. Fear of heights. Fear of idiots on the freeway. The list goes on. But truthfully, please believe me when I beg and plead with you, rolling out dough is not a big deal. I am a terrible klutz, can’t craft a darn thing, don’t sew a stitch, and yet somehow I can roll out dough so I am fairly certain you can too and if any dessert in the world is worth you conquering your fear, this little cookie is IT.
If you have never had a warm, fresh Rugelach straight of the oven before, then you have not lived and I had not either until yesterday night, and now I can never go back. Did you know it literally flakes and melts into your mouth when you bite into it?! The chocolate is ooey gooey and the pecans nicely toasty. Oh. My. I had no idea.
For some reason, it never occurred to me that I could make my own when I would oooh and aaah at the local Jewish bakery counter. These cookies falsely appeared to be quite complex. But don’t let the pretty little crescent shape and layers of dough fool you. It may have the appearance of a fussy little cookie, but between you and me, it’s a snap to make and there should be no fussiness anywhere in the vicinity if you are making Rugelach.
It starts like any other cookie; just cream (beat) together your butter, cream cheese and sugar. That’s easy enough. Add your egg yolks and vanilla. Not too bad, right? Now pay close attention; Sift nothing, nada. Do NOT even use a separate bowl for your TWO (yes only two) dry ingredients. Simply throw your flour and salt right into the same bowl with the butter mixture and beat again on medium speed just until combined.
Ok…people…here is the TOUGH part (sarcasm is so lost in the written word); Make a ball out of the dough with your hands and break it in half. Squish your two halves of dough into small disks. See the photo above? Wrap each disk with plastic wrap, and place the wrapped disks in a large Ziploc bag and store in the fridge for two hours or until the next day like I did.
In the meantime, chop up some good quality bittersweet or dark chocolate if you are me, or if you are you and want to stay on the easy track with these, just use mini chocolate chips. I actually did both since I made a double batch and ran out of the good stuff.
Here is my rolling out dough for dummies paragraph: Unwrap your first disk of dough. Dust a pastry board with flour…like maybe 1/4 a cup. Roll your rolling pin in flour amply as well. These are important steps. Flour = friend. Got it? Now roll out your dough by rolling forward over the dough and then sideways over the dough and repeat until you have about a 10 inch circle, about 1/8″ thick. It should look like a pizza crust but a bit thinner.
If you sense your dough sticking to the board, simply throw a bit more flour underneath it and keep on going. I, personally, like it to have a smooth edge so I tucked under the ratty, unseemly jagged edges, formed a pretty one and just rolled over it like a bulldozer.
Next, take your raspberry jam and melt it in the microwave for about 20 seconds. Spoon on 1/2 of the jam and spread it to just shy of the outside edges all over the dough. Mix together your sugar and cinnamon in a separate little bowl, or if you are like me and have cinnamon sugar ready for action at all times, just use that. Just sprinkle your cinnamon sugar mixture, pecans and chocolate chips over the dough willy nilly (no need to measure here). Grab a sheet of wax paper and gently press the toppings into the dough so they stick.
Use a pizza cutter to cut your dough in half and then in half again the opposite way, making four quarters. Now slice each quarter into thirds to form 12 pizza type slices (or into fourths if you like a petite cookie like I do).
Once the Rugelach dough is all sliced up, start with one slice and roll from the widest part (outside edge) inward nice and tight—just like a sleeping bag. If you have ever made those Pop n’ Fresh Crescents then you are a pro. Once your little Rugelach sleeping bag is all rolled up, bend it just a bit in to form a crescent shape. Voila! Easy peasy.
Place the crescents on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or a Silpat rubber mat. Silpat rubber mats are God’s gift to bakers…I am positive of this. Pop the cookie sheet in the fridge for a half hour while you take a little nap or something.
When you pull them out of the fridge, have ready one beaten egg stirred with one teaspoon of water. Also, have a little bowl of unmeasured coarse (Turbinado) sugar if you have it or regular granulated sugar if you do not. I did not and mine honestly were divine. Have I mentioned that already?
Here’s where I have a little insider information for you. Have a sheet of wax paper set aside to work on to minimize dripage onto your counters. Place all your rolled unbaked cookies onto the wax paper and quickly brush with the egg wash and sprinkle with sugar working over the wax paper. Then put the unbaked cookies back down onto the cookie sheet. This will eliminate egg wash dripping onto your cookie sheet and filling up your kitchen with a nice burnt egg smell later. Avoid that please.
Bake in the oven at 350 F. for 20-25 minutes or until they are a nice golden brown. If you want the real deal, please eat one piping hot and fresh out of the oven with a nice cup of coffee. Tea is the traditional beverage with these little delights but coffee was perfect with it. Don’t let the hot jam and chocolate burn your tongue. I refuse to be responsible for that. We are all adults, aren’t we?
Please make these cookie perfections. Please. Oh—regarding the cream cheese—live a little and use full fat cream cheese. Life’s nothing if not a gamble.
Dough recipe Adapted from Sweet Amandine (Martha Stewart’s Recipe) with Filling and Glaze from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking From My Home to Yours
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
8 ounces FULL FAT cream cheese at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
A pinch of coarse salt
2 1/3 cup all-purpose flour, plus a little extra for rolling out the dough
2/3 cup seedless raspberry jam (or apricot jam, any jam that you like works)
2/3 cup chopped dark chocolate or mini chocolate chips (or currants are nice if you are using an orange or apricot jam)
1/2 cup chopped pecans (or walnuts are fine)
2 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 egg beaten
1 teaspoon water
2 tablespoon Turbinado or other course sugar (or just plain granulated if that’s what you have)
For the dough: Cream together slightly softened butter and cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or hand beater) on medium speed. Add sugar and beat again. Then add the egg yolks, one at a time and beat in-between each addition. Add the vanilla and combine.
For dry ingredients, simply dump in the flour and salt into the butter mixture and mix together until combined, but do not over mix. Gather the dough in a ball and on a floured pastry board, divide the dough into two equal balls. Flatten those into disks, wrap them well in plastic wrap, and place them in a Ziploc bag. You really want to keep any air out. Refrigerate your dough for at least 2 hours or up to 24 hours.
Pull out your dough from the fridge, and leave it wrapped while you get your fillings together. Stir together your sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Either finely chop some good quality dark chocolate into small pieces like a mini chip or use mini chocolate chips. Chop your pecans finely in a food processor if you have one or any other way you choose. Line two cookie sheets with Silpat mats or parchment paper.
Flour your pastry board well using your hand to spread out the flour over the board evenly. Roll your rolling pin in the flour. Roll out one disk of the dough by rolling forward then back and then sideways, repeating until the dough is about 1/8 inch thick (very thin but workable) and about 10 inches round. Do not over roll or it will toughen your dough. If you find it sticking a bit when rolling, just add more flour to the rolling pin or to the board where ever it sticks.
Spread 1/2 of your jelly over the dough evenly, spreading it just short of the edge. Sprinkle on 1/2 of your cinnamon and sugar mixture and then 1/2 of the pecans and chocolate chips or other fillings you chose. Use a sheet of wax paper gently place over the dough with the toppings and press the toppings in a bit. Remove the wax paper and save for your second disk of dough. If you have a pizza slicer, it is the perfect tool for slicing the dough into half and then half again and then into little equal slices. See detailed explanation and photos above. I tend to slice each quarter of the dough into quarters like pizza or pie slices to make petite cookies which I prefer.
Roll each slice from the outside, wide edge, to the inside; tightly, like a sleeping bag. Once it is rolled up, give it a little bend forward to form the crescent shape and place on a cookie sheet lined with a Silpat mat or parchment paper.
Once all of the cookies from the first disk are on the cookie sheet, refrigerate the cookie sheet for 30 minutes and work with your second disk of dough. Repeat the steps above for rolling out the dough. Repeat all of the steps with second disk and turn your oven on to 350 degrees F. to preheat.
Take your sheets out of the fridge. Beat one egg and stir in one teaspoon of water for your egg wash. Have ready two tablespoons of either the Turbinado or granulated sugar. Get a sheet of wax paper (size of a cookie sheet), and place all of the cookies from one sheet onto the wax paper. Brush each cookie with the egg wash and sprinkle a pinch of the sugar over the top. Place the cookies back onto the cookie sheet and bake for about 20-25 minutes or until they turn just a bit golden. Please eat one straight out of the oven, watching out for burning hot jam and scalding melted chocolate. Now go bake the rest. Enjoy!
February 26, 2011 at 1:31 am
Then I have never lived. These are gorgeous.
February 26, 2011 at 7:38 am
I wish I could send you some right through the computer! Thanks for the compliment.
February 26, 2011 at 4:43 am
Looks so delicious, I have to make those for my kids!
February 26, 2011 at 8:52 am
And I’ll make frog cookies. Yours look delicious!
February 26, 2011 at 5:57 am
These look perfect! Such an awesome job, this is going on my to-do list! 🙂
February 26, 2011 at 7:38 am
Let me know how it goes! Thanks!
February 26, 2011 at 6:16 am
I was definitely super intimidated by rugelach for a long while and was totally scared to make them. But homemade is way better than storebought (which is hard to do with these because they really are so good to begin with!). And they are way easier than they seem. Yours turned out beautifully! I love that filling.
February 26, 2011 at 7:37 am
Very, very easy for people who enjoy cookie. You will be a whiz at them if you are not already.
February 26, 2011 at 6:23 am
Ever since my college roommate introduced me to her mom’s rugelach, I’ve been in love! Can’t wait to make these — thanks 🙂
February 26, 2011 at 8:55 am
Let me know how they turn out!
February 26, 2011 at 6:26 am
Geni, this was on my list to do this weekend and post, but I have to say your details, pics and comments make such a great and interesting read! They are one of my favorite little desserts. I normally use Ina’s recipe, but I’ll have to try this one out!
February 26, 2011 at 7:37 am
I almost used Ina’s recipe. This was a first time for me. They came out great. Funny thing is I actually made both Martha’s and Dorie Greenspan’s recipes and baked them both up. I needed a lot of cookies for this weekend. I loved Dorie’s as well but thought Martha’s made for a dough that was much easier to roll and tasted fantastic. I will have to try Ina’s too!
February 26, 2011 at 10:16 am
WOW! I really want to eat one of those now….
February 26, 2011 at 11:08 am
YUM! I have to agree, full fat is so much better than low fat.
February 26, 2011 at 12:23 pm
I’m so with you. I can’t remember the last time I had full-fat cream cheese. And you know I’m scared of all things pastry, but these look AWESOME. Hope you are having a great weekend!!
February 26, 2011 at 2:31 pm
These look simply divine! Yum!
February 26, 2011 at 5:46 pm
Those cookies look fun to make. My kids would love to be in charge of the rolling of the cookies.
February 26, 2011 at 6:24 pm
Flaky, chocolatey and easy? Sign me up! These look absolutely fabulous!
February 26, 2011 at 10:47 pm
I love rugelach although I have never made it. But I did make your tomato tart from a previous post. I was really very good. Thanks very much.
February 27, 2011 at 12:58 am
That I agree is a beautiful rugelach, I wanna make one of my own now.
February 27, 2011 at 6:38 am
I have never tried a rugelach.. they look phenomenal though!!
February 27, 2011 at 9:13 am
Hey sweetie, thank you for checking in on me. I’m doing well, and so is my dad. To top everything off, I came down with a cold this past week. I’m about ready to get back into the swing of things. I’ll be back soon!
These rugelaches look amazing! I have never tried anything like this but they look soooooo good!
February 27, 2011 at 12:02 pm
Oh wow…I’ll admit, I have never lived! 😉 These look absolutely amazing. I love the flavors going on in there!
February 27, 2011 at 1:21 pm
These little cookies look fantastic! I love that wax paper trick to get the toppings to stick. And the way you slice the dough into wedges is awesome – why didn;t my grandmotehr think of doing it that way? so much simpler than cutting, toppinga nd rolling one by one like she did!
February 27, 2011 at 3:49 pm
They look fantastic! I love rugelach!
February 27, 2011 at 3:55 pm
These sound amazing – and look so fancy!! 🙂 Im so trying these!
February 28, 2011 at 2:01 pm
like Leah said, these look so fancy…they would really dress up a party and make it something extra special
thanks for sharing!
February 28, 2011 at 4:14 pm
Wow, your rugelach look delicious, love the chocolate chips in it, great with a cup of tea 🙂 Have a wonderful wekk ahead!
February 28, 2011 at 11:08 pm
I’ve never had a rugelach…. can’t even say I’ve ever seen one….but, can honestly say I’m not afraid of my rolling pin…. so….I’m going to try these some day soon….they sound yummy.
March 1, 2011 at 11:21 am
I have not lived yet. Unless you count always using full-fat cream cheese as living. I never bother with low-fat cream cheese, it’s just not the same! These look so warm and flaky and chocolatey and all around perfect!
March 1, 2011 at 1:09 pm
Oh my god! Are you crazy?? It is late Wednesday night here… I am home alone without the necessary ingredients to make these babies! I am upset! 😉
I think I will dream of these tonight……… Plans for the weekend are set!
March 1, 2011 at 1:25 pm
Hi again…I’m hosting the Culinary Smackdown Battle for March–the theme is Cookies. Would you like to join in for the fun? It doesn’ have to be a new post on your blog. You can pick your favorite cookie from your previous post too. All you have to do is link up your cookie creation. I have some great prizes waiting. Hope to see your entry soon!
March 1, 2011 at 3:47 pm
WOW! This looks incredible!!! Nice work!
March 4, 2011 at 3:11 am
Your rugelach look fantastic! Great job making them. Thanks for linking this up to Sweets for a Saturday.
March 5, 2011 at 8:42 am
This makes a lot more sense to make it into into a pizza pie first and cut into slices. I was wondering why ours didn’t look too good, yours look great. I wish I have some now. 🙂