Rugelach are crescent-shaped cookies, traditionally served for Hanukkah, but the rich cream cheese dough, and variety of possible fillings make this a delicious any-holiday cookie recipe. This recipe is from Ina Garten’s, Barefoot Contessa Parties! This is one tasty cookie. Or is it a pastry? Let’s discuss.
What are rugelach?
Rugelach are crescent shaped cookies made from a rich cream cheese dough that’s somewhere between a cookie and a pastry dough. They are filled with a variety of nuts, jam, chocolate, poppy seeds or raisins. (This post was originally published on November 26th, 2013. As an Amazon Affiliate, I earn commission on qualifying purchases.)
Where did rugelach originate?
Rugelach originated in Poland, but are eaten in Jewish communities all over the world. You can find them in coffee shops all over Eastern Europe and Israel as well as any good Jewish bakery. More delicious cookies found in Central and Eastern Europe are these Moravian Molasses Cookies or German Zimtsterne.
What does rugelach mean?
According to Wikipedia, rugelach can mean “little twists”, “corner” or “horn”. All of which describe its shape which looks just like a miniature croissant. Others say that it comes from “rugel” which means royal. Pronounce it; “roo-gah-lah.
Can you use other fillings?
Absolutely! This rugelach recipe uses walnuts and cinnamon and apricot jam. I like apricot jam since it has a fairly neutral taste and doesn’t compete with the cinnamon and walnut filling. You could certainly substitute raspberry jam and chopped pecans or or cherry jam and almonds. There are endless possibilities! Apricot jam is also used as a glaze for many baked goods.
Can you freeze rugelach?
Yes. You can freeze the rugelach dough one of two ways. Either freeze the dough once you’ve rolled it out into a disc shape or freeze the filled and rolled cookies on a cookie sheet then wrap them carefully. When you’re ready to bake the rugelach, just place the filled cookies on a baking sheet while you heat up the oven. They should be defrosted by the time you pop them in the oven.
If you’re freezing the discs of dough, defrost the dough until it can be easily rolled.
Ingredients for rugelach
This is what you’ll need.
- cream cheese
- kosher salt
- vanilla extract
- all-purpose flour
- brown sguar
- apricot preserve
- 1 egg for the egg wash
- milk for egg wash
How do you make rugelach?
Make sure the butter and cream cheese are room temperature. In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer, cream the cream cheese and butter until light. Add 1/4 cup sugar, salt and vanilla. Turn mixer to low and add the flour gradually until just combined.
Turn out the dough onto. a well-floured board and roll it into a ball. Cut the dough into quarters. (For uniformity, I like to use a scale so that each quarter weighs the same) A scale is such a useful kitchen tool. I like this kitchen scale that’s priced under $10.
Flatten each ball into a disk. Wrap well in plastic and refrigerate for an hour. At this point, you can freeze the dough.
While dough is chilling, prepare the filling. Mix the brown sugar, 6 Tablespoons of granulated sugar, and chopped walnuts in a bowl. Next, puree the apricot jam in a food processor so it’s a little smoother and easier to spread.
On a lightly floured board, roll each ball into a 9″ circle. I like to use the bottom of my springform pan as a guide, trimming it and patching the dough as needed.
Spread each circle of dough with 1/4 of the jam (about 2 Tablespoons) with a pastry brush.
Sprinkle each circle of with 1/4 of the cinnamon walnut filling (around 1/3 of a cup). Press the filling lightly into the dough.
Cut each circle into equal wedges using a pizza cutter or sharp knife. Next, roll the cookies, starting with the wide end of each wedge, roll each wedge until it looks like a little croissant.
The point should be on the bottom. Place rugelach on baking sheets lined with parchment paper or a silpat. Chill for 30 minutes. (You can freeze the rugelach at this point too.)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Combine the remaining 3 Tablespoons sugar and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon in a small bowl. Make the egg wash by beating 1 Tablespoon milk with the egg.
Brush each cookie with the egg wash. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until lightly golden brown. Remove to wire racks and let cool.
Store the rugelach at room temperature for several days in a cookie tin or sealed container.
- Cream the cheese and the butter in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until light. Add 1/4 cup granulated sugar, salt and vanilla. With mixer on low speed, add the flour and mix until just combined.
- Turn the dough out onto a well-floured board and roll it into a ball. Cut into quarters, roll each into a flat disk. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour. (Dough can be frozen at this point)
Cinnamon Walnut Filling
- To make filling, combine 6 tablespoons sugar, brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and walnuts in a small bowl.
- On a well-floured board, roll each ball of dough into a 9-inch circle. Spread the dough with 2 tablespoons of apricot preserves and sprinkle with 1/2 cup of the filling. Press filling lightly into the dough.
- Cut circle into 12 equal wedges. Starting with wide edge, roll up each wedge.
- Place cookies, points tucked under, on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silpat. Chill for 30 minutes. (Finished cookies can be frozen at this point)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Finishing the Rugelach
- Combine beaten egg and 1 Tablespoon milk to make an egg wash
- Combine the remaining 3 tablespoons sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon and sprinkle on the cookies.
- Brush each cookie with egg wash.
- Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove to a wire rack and let cool.
- read the recipe through before beginning. The entire amount of white sugar is 1/4 cup PLUS 9 Tablespoons. 6 Tablespoons are used for the filling and 3 for sprinkling on top of the cookies before baking.
- If you want to freeze the dough, flatten each ball into a disc before freezing. Wrap well. It will keep for about 3 weeks.
Defrost before rolling out
- If you want to freeze the cookies BEFORE baking, place them on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Once they're frozen, place them in a zip-lock bag. Defrost on a cookie sheet before baking.
- Any nut or jam can be substituted.