Friday, September 26, 2014

Rugelach: Gifts for the New Year

 A recipe for resolution...and rebirth


L'Shanah Tovah! Belated as it may be, it's Rosh Hashanah! In honor of the Jewish New Year, I've made some potentially appropriate Rugelach for sharing with others!

To clarify for those who may not know, Rosh Hashanah is the Head of the New Year in the Jewish tradition, marked by both looking back on the past year and recognizing the shortcomings and errings committed, and also looking forward to a good new year to come. You can read more about the holiday here. It's not quite equivalent to the Western New Years, as it traditionally holds a holier and more religious value than most January celebrations, but it does share the making of resolutions as a commonality.

And the celebrations!

Many foods traditionally served during Rosh Hashanah are sweet or fruity in nature, which are to hopefully bring about a sweet new year. Round Challah is also more traditional than not, the circular shape symbolizing both the life cycle as well as the crown signifying God as a royal presence.

In recognition of the lack of posts, I will say briefly that there has been a lot going on in my life related to why I haven't updated this blog very much (err, in additional to the general laziness that surely plays some role...). I plan to post more about that later; I don't really want to take up what's meant to be a celebratory and culturally significant post with my personal problems. That being said, I expect I'll have to get my act together and start writing once this holiday season is over -- likely after Sukkot.

Now, let's get back to the food....

In all honesty, I would have liked to bake an apple-honey Challah bread for the holiday, but I'll be the first to admit that I chickened out. Yeast and I... well, we don't always see eye to eye... And because I was actually baking for my friend (who would be taking whatever I happened to produce to a party that evening), I figured I ought stick with something a little...more reliable.

Et voilà, these Rugelach were born! I got the recipe for the dough from Reeni over at Cinnamon-Spice & Everything Nice. If I were you, I would run right over there to check out her other recipes! She definitely has a lot that I want to try...but of course haven't the resources for as of yet... I also used the stand mixer instead of the food processor, but feel free to use her method too. Where I worked, we always made our pie dough in the stand mixer, so I guess it's kind of a habit...
Chop yours at least a little finer than these for best filling!

Given that I wasn't making Apple Cake or Apple Bread...I decided to fill these (well, half of them) with cinnamon and apple preserves. You can fill them however you want, though; it's just a suggestion! Actually, Reeni's nut filling is delectable, but nuts are a little outside the budget right now (sad as it is...).

So let's get started! Because you're going to have to chill the dough and the filling, I would say it doesn't matter too much which you choose to make first. You could also make them both in advance and assemble/bake them some hours later. That's completely up to you and what your time allows :)

Actually, before we do...let me say one more thing about the baking............. You will be tempted to underbake these because of the browning they'll endure. Resist. The egg wash and sugar are causing the brown, but they're not burnt. In order to illustrate this...I sacrificed one to the cause; in short, I burnt his butt!
Not Burnt

See what I mean? Black is bad; brown is good! Additionally, if the filling leaks out and gets black (burns), do not panic! Really, please don't -- I'll feel bad... You can just pull/cut/scrape it off, and I guarantee you the rest of the cookie will be just fine.

Rugelach -- Adapted from Cinnamon-Spice & Everything Nice
 Yield: 32-64 cookies, depending on size


  • 250g all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 224g cream cheese, cold and cubed
  • 240g unsalted butter, cold and cubed
  • 1 egg yolk, cold
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
 Apple Cinnamon Filling
  •  300g apples, preferably granny-smith or other tart variety (about 2 1/2 cups), peeled and diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 50g unsalted butter
  • 144g brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons apple juice concentrate (frozen - be sure it is 100% juice)
  • 2 Tablespoons water
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons low or no-sugar needed pectin (see notes for substitutions)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon*
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger*
  • 1/8 teaspoon cardamom*
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg*
  •  1 egg
  • turbinado (raw cane) sugar, or a mix of 1 part cinnamon with 1 part turbinado
  *Spices are to your taste. You can also use 1 1/2 teaspoons of any pie spice blend

  1.  Sift flour and salt together into the bowl of  a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Stir together a minute or so to fully incorporate
  2. Add the cubed butter and cream cheese to the bowl. Mix on low speed until the butter and cream cheese have been flaked into the mix. The mixture should not be mealy (in many little balls) but instead have flattened flakes of butter*
  3. Add yolk and vanilla. Mix until a dough comes together. If the dough seems a little sticky, that's all right; it will be partially due to the increased temperature of the ingredients 
  4. Divide dough into fourths, then shape each fourth into a disc. Wrap tightly and chill for at least 30 minutes 
  1.  Toss the apples with the lemon juice and salt. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Once melted, add the apples and saute around 10-15 minutes, stirring often, until softened
  2. Add brown sugar, apple juice concentrate, and water. Add pectin and stir until fully dissolved. Bring the mixture to a full boil over high heat, stirring constantly, and boil hard for 1 minute. Filling should thicken but still be liquid - like a syrup 
  3. Remove from heat and cool a few seconds. Stir in vanilla and spices
  4. Transfer the filling to a bowl and cool a minimum of 30 minutes (to room temperature) or chill completely before use
  1. Line baking sheets (you'll need 2-3) with parchment paper. Working with one disk at a time, place dough on a well floured surface. Roll out to an 8-9" circle; about 1/8" thick
  2. Spread 1/4 of the filling over the entire surface of the circle. Using a pastry wheel, pizza cutter, or a sharp knife, cut the circle into wedges (I cut into 16, but you can cut larger wedges for larger cookies)
  3. Carefully roll each wedge into a crescent, starting from the long side of the wedge and ending at the tapered end. Once rolled, place each cookie on the prepared sheet pan. These cookies don't spread very much, so you don't have to worry about them all melding together in the oven. 
  4. Once you have filled one cookie sheet with cookies, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Chill the cookies for 20-30 minutes before baking, during which time you can roll the other disks of dough
  5. Whisk egg in a small bowl. Brush the top of each cookie lightly with the egg wash, and sprinkle with turbinado or cinnamon sugar. Bake until risen and golden-brown, about 20 minutes. Turn the cookies once at about half way, and use your senses to determine the rest of the baking time (believe me, you will know!)
  6. Cool the cookies on the baking sheet for at least 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack. Best served day-of


  •  You can substitute 2 Tablespoons cornstarch for the pectin. To substitute, combine the cornstarch with the water before adding to the mixture. This will help prevent clumps
  • Alternatively, you can fill the cookies with chocolate, as I have for some of them: chop up any chocolate that you have very fine and follow the same filling procedure

Be advised! These cookies will go from...

This plate full of indulgent wonder.... this scattered array of lonely crumbs...

In a matter of time spanning but a few moments... be sure to get yourself some before then!

As always, thank you all for reading! I hope to be more consistently back on here in the future! Have a wonderful holiday!

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