Ah, rugelach. Some people call this a cookie. Jewish culinary maven Gil Marks did. But for me, rugelach is a food until itself. These are wonderful pastries, with soft cream cheese cookie dough and a filling that can be made in dozens of ways.

That filling, for me, is just cinnamon sugar. Many people want jam: strawberry, raspberry, blackberry, apricot. I appreciate those flavors, I do, but I must have the purity of cinnamon and sugar.

Store-bought or bakery-bought rugelach is often days old. You want it fresh and warm from your own oven. You want your home filled with cinnamon vapors. You want real rugelach.


Rugelach [or Rugelah] from Gil Marks

Yield: 32 large, 48 medium or 64 small cookies

Ingredients:

Cream Cheese Dough:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter or margarine, softened
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 tablespoon sour cream
  • ½  teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract (optional)
  • 2 cups (10 ounces) all-purpose flour, sifted

Filling:

  • 1 cup jam, such as apricot or raspberry, or ¼ cup (½ stick) melted butter
  • ½ cup sugar mixed with 1 ½  teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ¾ cup dried currants or raisins (optional)
  • Egg wash (1 large egg beaten with 1 teaspoon water or milk)
  • About 2 tablespoons sugar, or 2 tablespoons mixed with 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon) for sprinkling

Preparation:

To make the dough: In a large bowl, beat together the butter, cream cheese, and sour cream until and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the salt and, if using, the sugar and vanilla. Gradually beat in the flour. Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces, form into balls, flatten into 1-inch-thick rounds, wrap in plastic wrap, refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or use ungreased sheets.

Let the dough stand at room temperature until malleable. On a lightly floured surface (or a surface sprinkled with cinnamon-sugar), roll out each piece to a ⅛-inch-thick round, about 9 inches in diameter. Brush with jam, or the melted butter, and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar, leaving a 16-inch border around the edge using, sprinkle with the currants if using.

Cut each round into equal wedges—12 for medium cookies, 8 for large cookies, or 16 for small. Starting from the wide end, roll up the wedges toward the point and gently bend to form a crescent.

Place the crescents on the prepared baking sheets pointed side down, 1 inch apart. Brush with the wash and sprinkle lightly with the sugar.

Bake until golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Let the cookies stand until firm, about 1 minute, then transfer to a  wire rack and let cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.


Source: Encyclopedia of Jewish Food by Gil Marks [Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2010]

Photo Information: Canon T2i, EFS 60mm Macro Lens, F/2.8 for 1/80th second at ISO‑200