I remember the first time I had rugelach. I was about fifteen years old and worked at a bagel store in the downtown area of the town I grew up in. In the large backroom where the bagels where made and kept, there were sheet trays filled with rugelach. Their cheesy, soft interior was swirled with raspberry and chocolate. The flaky exterior was crunchy with granulated sugar and finely chopped walnuts.Those tasty bites set off a love affair with rugelach that, at this point, has lasted half my life.
I make them every holiday season and usually change up the fillings from year to year. These perfect pastries originated in Central Europe and are associated with the Ashkenazi Jewish tradition. The dough is essentially the same from recipe to recipe, but feel free to experiment with the fillings.
8 ounces full fat cream cheese, room temperature
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups All Purpose Flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 medium sized pears (you can also replace this with good quality pear preserves)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 cup pecans, finely chopped
2 T granulated sugar
1 egg, with a teaspoon water (for egg wash)
2 T or so of granulated sugar
- With a stand mixer or electric hand mixer, cream butter and cream cheese until it is fully incorporated. See here for instructions on using a food processor to make rugelach.
- In a small bowl, combine flour and salt. Add to mixer and stir until combined.
- Divide dough into four pieces, flatten each piece into a disc and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate until firm, 45 minutes to 2 hours. You can also keep dough in fridge for up to 24 hours and freeze for at least one month.
- While the dough is chilling, make pear filling. Chop two pears into small pieces and place, with one tablespoon vanilla extract, one tablespoon water and a cinnamon stick, in a small sauce pan. Cook, covered, until pear breaks down. The end result should look like preserves; jammy with some small chunks of fruit left. Transfer to a bowl and allow to cool.
- Combine finely chopped pecans and sugar in a small bowl.
- Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 350 F degrees.
- Roll one of the discs into a round that is 1/8 inch thick on a heavily floured surface. You don’t want the dough to stink to the counter because you will have to roll them up, so don’t be afraid to flour too much. Spoon one quarter of the pear filling evenly over the disc. Sprinkle with one quarter of the sugar pecan mixture. Slice the disc into 12 wedges. Next, you need to roll the wedges into a crescent, start from the wide end and roll up. Place the crescent on the baking sheet. Continue with next three disks.
- Quickly prepare an egg wash, brush the egg wash on the cookies and sprinkle lightly with granulated sugar.Bake for 20-25 minutes or until lightly golden brown.
- Cool on a cooling rack and enjoy. Cookies will keep in an airtight container for 5 days.
Yield: about 48 cookies. I consulted this recipe in developing this.