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
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
- 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
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