A month or two ago, I had a special request for some kind of cookie that resembles a pecan pinwheel type of cake. A quick search on line produced a recipe for Rugelach, a Jewish pastry type cookie rolled a bit like a French croissant with a sweet filling inside. The lady that requested these is from my husbands office. She has chickens and brings in dozens of eggs to the office to share. She continually restocks my frig with farm fresh eggs so the least I can do is make a special treat for her!
I first used the traditional recipe that I found on several blogs and websites. The dough included:
- 2 cups flour
- 1/2 pound butter
- 1 egg yolk
- 3/4 cup sour cream
These ingredients are combined and refrigerated overnight then rolled out flat, spread with whatever filling you choose (and you can be creative here!), cut into wedges and rolled like a crescent roll. (Yes, I use the canned crescent rolls so have rolled this shape a lot!!). For Martha’s treat, I made them with a brown sugar and pecan filling but nuts don’t go over well with my family so I came up with a few other fillings. I used the same method for my own dough but varied the dough ingredients to try to get a sweeter and richer dough. The traditional dough is flaky and has a slight tartness to it. It is oh, so yummy and I have had several requests for them since that first batch.
This weekend I made both recipes and had them taste-tested, side by side. The result? Both were scrumptious! (We may not be Jewish but Rugelach will never go to waste in this house!) And the hands down winner, I’m delighted to say, is my own recipe! It is a little more dense and not as flaky but that seems to be the preference around here! I will use both recipes in the future, depending on what I have on hand. If I’m out of cream cheese (called for in my version), I’ll just go with the sour cream. You could even switch out the sour cream or cream cheese for greek yogurt!
One shortcut that I do NOT recommend is cutting the chilling time for the dough before rolling it out.
Above is a photo of 2 cookies made with my recipe. The flat cookie was the result of me being impatient and rolling and baking a small batch after only chilling the dough for about 45 minutes. DON’T DO IT! The dough is so much easier to work with and the end result will be a much prettier, more risen cookie if you chill the dough overnight, or AT LEAST for several hours!
So here is my take on traditional Rugelach. Please try it out and let me know what you think and if you come up with any yummy filling ideas!
For the dough
- 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
For the fillings (see note below for other variations):
- 4 tbsp granulated sugar
- 4 tbsp light brown sugar, packed
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 4 tbsp fig preserves
- ¼ cup salted, shelled pistachios, finely chopped
- 1 egg, beaten with 2 tsp water for egg wash
- Sanding sugar
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Cream the cream cheese and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment until completely blended and light. Add the sugar, salt, and vanilla. Mix on low speed then add the flour and mix until just combined. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a spatula and turn the dough out onto a well-floured counter and roll it into a ball. With a bench scrapper or knife, cut the ball in 4 pieces. Wrap each piece in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight.
- To make the first filling, combine the 4 tablespoons of granulated sugar, the brown sugar, and cinnamon.
- On a well-floured board, roll the first ball of dough into a circle about 9 inches across. Sprinkle with half of the sugar and cinnamon mixture. Lightly press the filling into the dough. Cut the circle into 12 equal wedges by cutting the whole circle in quarters, then each quarter into thirds. Starting with the wide edge, roll up each wedge. Place the cookies, keeping the points tucked under, on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Press some sanding sugar into each cookie. Repeat the process with the second round of dough. With the third and fourth rounds, after rolling, spread 2 tablespoons of fig preserves on each round and sprinkle chopped pistachios. Cut into 12 wedges, roll up and place on parchment lined baking sheet. Chill for 30 minutes.
- Remove from refrigerator and brush with egg wash then sprinkle with sanding sugar.
- Bake for 18 to 22 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove to a wire rack and let cool.
Store in an air tight container for up to 3 days or freeze up to 3 months in a freezer bag, separating layers with parchment paper. These cookies freeze extremely well – make a batch or two to keep in your freezer for last minute guests!
NOTE: Be creative with the filling! Brown sugar, cinnamon and granulated sugar are a favorite in my house but add finely chopped nuts to this mixture (any type you like!) for a little crunch. Another favorite is 2 tablespoons of seedless raspberry jam and about a teaspoon of brown sugar. Enjoy!