Cinnamon-Cocoa-Pecan Rugelach

11 Nov

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It’s about time I post a recipe here. I have been so busy out and about, road tripping to make pie in Vermont and hang out on a farm, and experimenting with letting others, namely Blue Apron, do the grocery shopping for me.

I am back in the groove now with a recipe for RUGELACH! Perfect for the upcoming holiday season. These darling cookies fit the bill for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Hannukah. But really, they are delicious any time of the year.

Actually, I made the dough for the rugelach way back in August and stuck it in my freezer, intending to bake them off for the Jewish high holiday, Rosh Hashanah. Alas, life got busy and I never got around to making them.

So, three months later, I finally pulled the rugelach dough from the freezer, placed it in the refrigerator to thaw, and set to work rolling, filling, and shaping the cookies. I have been known to keep pie doughs and pizza doughs and apparently rugelach doughs in my freezer for months on end, which is not ideal or recommended, but hey, they always turn out tasting dang good.

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I wrote about rugelach a few years back, and it is high time for an update.

Before when I made them, I pinched the ends of the cookie dough together like I would a croissant. Now, I realize that I like the look of rugelach better when I leave them in a long shape and do not pinch the ends.

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I made one batch of rugleach over the weekend and things got messy. I started rolling the dough out and filling it, but then realized I had to be somewhere and just threw everything into my refrigerator to finish later. So when I went back later to finish rolling, the dough was too cold and I kept breaking it. Sigh.

I also went a little overboard with the jam. That, plus too cold dough gave me lots of trouble rolling things neatly. Then, in the oven, the excess jam oozed out and burned on the baking sheet very quickly. They still tasted good in the end, but I knew I could do better, so I took another stab with my other round of dough.

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With my second rugleach attempt a few days later, I made huge progress. It helped that when I set out to roll, fill, and bake this time, I was more relaxed and my head was clear and calm.

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The trick to neat rugelach? Aside from patience and deep breaths, the trick is to leave a small circle with no jam or filling in the center of the dough. This makes the cutting and rolling of the cookies so much easier and less messy! Better to put more filling closer to the wide edges and less toward the tips.

To cut the rugelach into even wedges…

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First cut the circle into four big wedges.

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Then, cut each quarter wedge into thirds to get 12 rugelach. I cut a slit at the wide end of each rugelach triangle to make it easier to roll up.

The rolling of the rugelach reminded me of when I used to make croissants for work and pleasure. Oh, I miss those good old days sometimes.

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The recipe for rugelach may look long, intimidating, and scary. Making the dough ahead of time helps reduce the scariness.

I made my dough and kept it in the freezer until the day before I wanted to actually make and bake the rugelach. Let the freezer be thy friend. One can also make the dough, chill it in the refrigerator, roll it out and shape the cookies, and then freeze the already prepared cookies and bake them off right from the freezer. Or, bake the cookies and then freeze them and take them out of the freezer a few hours before serving. Many options.

I made the filling based on ingredients I had on-hand at home and enjoy in my cookies. Nuts, jam, and a hint of cocoa go so well together in this buttery rugelach cookie. But, one might want to swap cocoa powder for chopped chocolate. Or keep things fruity with dried fruit instead of chocolate. Nutella rugelach anyone? Go wild.

Not in the mood to make your own? If you live in New York City, check out the insanely good rugelach from Breads Bakery, Zabar’sZucker Bakery, and sometimes when in “season,” Birdbath Bakery’s honey-walnut rugelach.

Cinnamon-Cocoa-Pecan Rugelach

Makes 24 rugelach

Dough and method adapted from one of my old posts, and a little bit from the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook 

Filling adapted from Pastry Pal

Dough:

4 oz of cream cheese, at room temperature

4 oz unsalted butter (1 stick), at room temperature

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

pinch of Kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup (155 g) all purpose flour

Spread:

1/4 cup jam, divided

Filling: 

1/2 cup chopped nuts (I used pecans)

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 teaspoon cocoa powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Sprinkling: 

1 egg yolk

1 teaspoon water

granulated sugar

Make the dough: Cream together the cream cheese and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until light (or mix together by hand). Add the granulated sugar, the salt, and the 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 half, wrap each piece in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or freeze for 1 to 2 months.

Roll the dough: Take the dough out of the refrigerator (if frozen, let it thaw in the refrigerator at least 1 day ahead). On a well-floured board, roll each ball of dough into a 9-inch circle, rotating the dough to prevent it from sticking and to roll it out evenly. Make sure the dough is nice and thin.

Add the jam and filling: Spread each circle of rolled dough with 2 tablespoons jam, leaving an small circle in the center without any jam. Sprinkle each jam-slicked circle of rolled dough with the filling.

Cut and roll: Cut each circle into 12 equal triangular wedges—cutting the whole circle in quarters, then each quarter into thirds. Cut a slit at the wide end of each triangle. Starting with the wide edge, roll up each wedge thinly, trying to get as many rolls in as possible. Place the cookies, points tucked under, on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Chill for 30 minutes.

Bake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Mix the egg yolk with the water. Brush the egg wash onto each rugelach. Sprinkle with a little sugar. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove to a wire rack and let cool.

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