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Rugelach, Reviewed

Updated: Jul 31, 2023

Today I will teach you how to make rugelach, a Jewish pastry/cookie (not sure which) that consists of dough with layers of filling all rolled up into a cute little spiral.


I was inspired to try making these when I saw a recipe for rugelach in the Lidl holiday catalog last winter. Lidl is a German grocery store and I thought their excellence in providing gourmet products might translate into their recipe-making abilities.



I'm not going to spend much time on this recipe, because it turned out not to be very good. Here is my result:



While the raisin-cream cheese-cinnamon-walnut filling was very good and autumnal, the filling oozed out and solidified, and the dough is pie crust, which is way too dry for rugelach.


So then I found The New York Times Cooking recipe for cherry cardamom rugelach and decided to try that out.


Ingredients


These ingredients are halved from the original recipe because the original makes 48 rugelach, which is ridiculous.


Dough

-4 ounces cream cheese

-1/2 cup (1 stick) softened butter

-2 tablespoons sugar

-1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

-1 cup flour

-1/4 teaspoon salt or less

-Nonstick cooking spray (optional)


Filling

-1/4 cup regular sugar

-2 tablespoons light brown sugar

-1 teaspoon cardamom

-Small pinch of cinnamon (or 1/8 teaspoon)

-37.5 grams tablespoons walnuts, coarsely chopped (optional)

-1/4 cup dried cherries, coarsely chopped

-1/4 cup cherry preserves/jam

-Milk for brushing


The Recipe


Combine all the dough ingredients together and knead until it forms a ball. Because the dough has so much cream cheese and butter, the dough will feel really soft and nice, like a cloud ☁️. Split the ball into two and flatten each into a disk with your hand. Then wrap each up and put them in the fridge for at least 2 hours and up to 3 days. Here are my cute dough discs (I have 4 because I followed the original recipe).



Once the dough has spent its time in the fridge, take it out and let it warm and soften up for at least 10 minutes. In the meantime, make the filling by combining 3 tablespoons sugar, 1 tablespoon light brown sugar, 1/2 tsp cardamom, a dash of cinnamon, optionally ~18 grams walnuts, and 2 tablespoons dried cherries.


Once the dough is soft enough to roll, flour your work surface and use a rolling pin to widen your first disc into a 9-inch circle. Then spread 2 tablespoons of cherry preserves/jam evenly onto the dough. 😋



Cover the dough with half of your filling, and use your hands to press the filling down so that it sticks. Then use a knife or pizza cutter to cut the circle into 12 slices.



Roll each slice up from the wide end to the pointy end. This is very pleasing and if you do it carefully you will end up with a prettier rugelach.


Now line a cookie try with parchment paper, optionally spray the paper with nonstick cooking spray, and place your little rugelach on the paper. Cover and let the rugelach set in the fridge for 30 minutes. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.


Once that's done, take the rugelach out and brush each one with milk. Then sprinkle the tops with a mixture of 1 tablespoon sugar + 1/2 teaspoon cardamom.


Place in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes. Rotate the cookie sheet halfway so that the rugelach gets baked evenly.



The Result



Unlike the Lidl rugelach, the dough is chewy and soft and wonderful. The filling flavor is excellent and reminds me of Christmas. I've never cooked with cardamom before and it has a great autumnal/wintery taste and smell. I highly recommend making these and giving them to your friends if you get sick of them (which is what I did).


Eventually I will try to make chocolate rugelach, which is actually my favorite flavor.


I know people are saying sugar is the new tobacco. Don't listen to those people. Enjoy some rugelach.


~Avi

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