The last time David headed up to Maryland to visit his parents, I sent him with some black and white cookies (a Jewish deli staple that I thought would make my in-laws happy). That recipe will be forthcoming soon. But first I will share what I made for this week’s trip, assorted rugelach, because it is a great recipe to have on hand this month. David took a nice big tin of rugelach with him, sending my version of hugs these days, but I made sure to keep a few behind for my own noshing while he is away.
What I like best about rugelach (a pastry that originates from the Jewish community in Poland) is that you can fill them with pretty much anything you want and it is easy to make a variety of fillings for the same batch of dough. You essentially make a cream cheese-based dough, chill it, roll it out into circles, spread yummy stuff on top of it, then cut it into triangles and roll them up like crescent rolls.
This recipe comes from Ina Garten and it is a winner.
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2-pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar plus 9 tablespoons
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3/4 cup raisins
1 cup walnuts, finely chopped
1/2 cup apricot preserves, pureed in a food processor
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon milk, for egg wash
Cream the cheese and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until light. Add 1/4 cup granulated sugar, the salt, and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour and mix until just combined. Dump the dough out onto a well-floured board and roll it into a ball. Cut the ball in quarters, wrap each piece in plastic, and refrigerate for 1 hour.
To make the filling, combine 6 tablespoons of granulated sugar, the brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, the raisins, and walnuts.
On a well-floured board, roll each ball of dough into a 9-inch circle. Spread the dough with 2 tablespoons apricot preserves and sprinkle with 1/2 cup of the filling. Press the filling lightly into the dough. Cut the circle into 12 equal wedges, cutting the whole circle in quarters, then each quarter into thirds.
Starting with the wide edge, roll up each wedge. Place the cookies, points tucked under, on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Chill for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Brush each cookie with the egg wash. Combine 3 tablespoons granulated sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon and sprinkle on the cookies. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove to a wire rack and let cool.
I used blueberry jam and orange marmalade, since those were the jars I had on hand. I coated those with the nut and sugar mixture from Ina’s recipe. I also made some with Nutella and peanuts. I can personally vouch for the tastiness of all of them! (Some pieces just happened to break off when I was transferring them to the tin and, well, that was my cue to do quality control.)