Rugelach cookies are the Jewish dessert that’s missing in your life.
They’re popular not just in Jewish countries, but all over the world. If you haven’t heard of them yet, you’re missing out. Let’s remedy that right now, shall we?
While technically called cookies, they’re actually more like mini crescent-rolled pastries with a sweet filling.
The dough is wonderfully flaky and buttery with richness coming from full-fat cream cheese.
The filling can be anywhere from chocolate and hazelnut spread to jams and cinnamon sugar.
I’ll share my favorite with you, but don’t let it stop you from making it your own.
Because rugelach cookies are made from homemade pastry dough, I totally understand if you think it’s complicated to make.
Good news: it’s not.
Yes, you’ll need to make pastry dough from scratch, and yes you’ll have to knead and roll it yourself.
But if you use your ever-reliable food processor, everything will be a cinch.
In fact, all you’ll need is to throw in all the ingredients to the food processor and pulse away.
As for the filling – it couldn’t be easier. Just mix all the ingredients in a bowl, and tada!
What Does the Word Rugelach Mean?
Rugelach (pronounced roo-guh-laak) is a Yiddish word meaning “twist.”
This pastry originated from Jewish communities in Poland who traveled to Israel. It’s served on special occasions, particularly Hanukkah.
Classic recipes will call for yeast, but who has the time?
If you’re a busy parent, this simplified version will be your new best friend. These cookies will be ready in no time.
What Does Rugelach Taste Like?
The pastry is enriched with cream cheese and butter, so expect it to be a treat, even on its own.
Once baked, it turns into a crisp, flaky, golden brown pastry that houses the warm, sweet, and sticky filling.
Is Rugelach Soft or Hard?
Rugelach cookies have a flaky and buttery pastry. They’re not supposed to be hard. Instead, they should be lightly crisp and soft, and slightly chewy as well.
Some of the butter in the crust will drip out, which then fries the bottoms of the pastry, creating a mildly crisp crust. That’s pastry perfection, right there.
Tips for Making The Best Cookies
- Measure the flour accurately using the kitchen scale or the spoon-and-level method. Spoon the flour into the measuring cup and level it off with an offset spatula or the back of a knife. Simply scooping the flour with the measuring cup will give you more than needed.
- Use full-fat cream cheese and sour cream for the fullest flavor.
- For maximum pastry flakiness, work with the dough very quickly and handle it as little as you possibly can.
- Bring the cream cheese and butter to room temperature. This way, they’ll blend with the other dough ingredients easily.
- Chill the dough for at least 20 minutes before you roll it. It’ll be way too soft and delicate to work with right after kneading.
- When rolling and slicing, work on one dough ball at a time and keep the rest chilling in the fridge.
- Dust the working surface and rolling pin with flour so the dough won’t stick to them. If the dough is too sticky, dust it with flour, too.
- Use a pizza cutter to effortlessly cut the dough.
- Push the filling away from the edges and toward the center. This will prevent it from falling out during rolling.
- For a golden finish, brush the rolled-up pastries with egg wash. You can also sprinkle them with cinnamon sugar for a sweet and crunchy topping.
- Line the baking sheet with parchment paper. Just in case the filling oozes out of the cookies, the parchment paper will protect the baking sheet from coming in contact with that sticky, hard-to-clean mess.
- Bake the cookies in the middle rack of the oven for best results.
- Dust the baked cookies with powdered sugar for a pretty presentation.
- I use a walnut raisin filling in this recipe, but don’t let this stop you from trying others. There’s a wide array of rugelach fillings to choose from. Feel free to make it your own.
- Chocolate: a mix of 1 cup finely chopped chocolate, 3 tablespoons brown sugar, and 1 tablespoon cocoa powder.
- Sugar, Cinnamon, and Chocolate: Sprinkle 1/3 cup of finely chopped chocolate over the original filling for a delicious mash-up.
- Nutella: slather that spread generously over the dough. Sprinkle with crushed hazelnuts for good measure.
- Jam: apricot, blueberry, orange, mango – your call.
- Poppyseed pastry
- Make-ahead instructions: the dough can be prepared up to 3 days ahead of time. Just wrap it in and refrigerate it until you’re ready to assemble.
- These cookies taste best fresh out of the oven, but they keep well for up to several days if stored in an airtight container.
- You can also freeze them for up to 2 months! Place them on a baking sheet and freeze for 1 hour, or until frozen solid. Transfer them into an air-tight container or freezer-safe bag, label, and freeze. Let them thaw at room temperature for 30 minutes before reheating.
- Warm up cold rugelach cookies in the microwave for several seconds.
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