Saturday, January 2, 2010
Rugelach (not to be confused with Arugula)
My mom didn't want me to make gingerbread cookies this year for Christmas.
"I don't want something with frosting. I want something with nuts," she said.
Luckily, I was reading recipes of holiday cookies on the New York Times website and found these little beautiful Jewish cookies called Rugelach. (I pronounce them "Ru-Geh-Laa" which sounds pretty much like "Arugula," which is not a cookie). For some reason, I remember my mom buying them at some bakery when I was little. There was a raisin kind and a fruity kind, but i liked both a lot. And, they had nuts. Perfect.
"So instead of making Christmas cookies...you're making Jewish cookies?" My dad asked once I explained the change in plan.
"Ask mom," I said. "I think Christmas is still on."
The two kinds we made are Apricot and Raisin and Raspberry and Dried Cranberry
Adapted from the New York Times website. (See link above)
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese (I used a block of Philly's)
1 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups bleached all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 cup (firmly packed) light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup golden raisins (ok, we used regular raisins and were fine, and used craisens for the raspberry version)
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1/2 cup apricot preserves (or use raspberry preserves)
1/4 liquid cup milk
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Make the dough:
In a mixing bowl, cream the cream cheese and butter until blended. Beat in the sugar and vanilla extract. On low speed, beat in the flour and the optional salt until incorporated.
Scrape the dough onto a piece of plastic wrap and press it together to form a ball.
Divide the dough into 4 portions and cover each with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 2 hours or
Make the Filling:
In a medium bowl, combine the sugars, cinnamon, raisins, and walnuts and stir with a spatula or fork until well mixed.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator and allow it to sit on the counter for about 15 minutes or until it is malleable enough to roll.
Place 2 oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Using a floured rolling pin, on a lightly floured board, roll out each dough portion, one at a time, into a 9-inch circle to a 1/8-inch thickness, rotating the dough often to be sure that it isn't sticking.
A great method that keeps additional flour to a minimum is to roll out the dough between two sheets of plastic wrap, well floured on the bottom. Flip it over, remove the bottom sheet of plastic wrap, and dust off any excess flour. Using the back of a tablespoon, spread the dough evenly with 2 tablespoons of the preserves. Sprinkle about 1/2 cup of the filling over the preserves. Press the filling firmly and evenly over the dough. Using a sharp knife, cut the dough circle into 12 triangles or pieces of "pie."
Use a thin knife, if necessary, to loosen the triangles from the board.
Starting at the wide end, roll up the triangle and bend the ends around to form a slight crescent shape.
Place the rugelach, point underneath, about 1 1/2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets.
(optional) For the topping, brush the rugelach with milk. In a small bowl, stir together the sugar and cinnamon, and sprinkle the rugelach with it.
Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until lightly browned.
(optional) For even baking, rotate the cookie sheets from top to bottom and front to back halfway through the baking period.