Well Being

Rugelach

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Rugelach is an Eastern European pastry, traditionally served on Jewish holidays. These days of course you can purchase rugelach at fine bakeries most any day of the year. In New York and Pennsylvania where there are a lot of Eastern European immigrants, practically every city, big or small, has a family-owned bakeshop selling these goodies. This particular recipe, from Martha Stewart, is very good, as is usually with most Martha Stewart recipes, though I have to say I'm not too happy with the currants. Yes, it's traditional, but the currants that remain in the rolled up rugelach remain sweet and juicy, and the ones that end up on the outside of the crust are rendered brittle and almost take on a burnt flavor by the time the rugelach is done, so I'm wanting to try the less traditional way of making it, which is to roll the dough out into a rectangle, and cut the dough into strips instead of triangles, so that when the rugelach is rolled up you end up with flat ends instead of tapered ones. Also thinking that next time I'll try Lora Brody's recipe, or maybe Clarissa Hyman's, or Mimi Sheraton's (sigh…. so many recipes, so little time)…. or maybe I'll ask my friend Suzanne if she has a recipe to share.

2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon plus pinch salt
1 large egg, plus 3 large egg yolks
2 1/3 cups all purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (do yourself a favor and use the real kind:))
1 1/4 cups walnut halves or pieces
pinch of ground cinnamon
1 cup plus 2 tbsp apricot jelly, melted
2 cups currants, mini semisweet chocolate chips, or a combination
fine sanding or granulated sugar for sprinkling (I used some crystal sugar that I had leftover from last year's holidays)

Beat butter and cream cheese on medium speed in the bowl of an electric mixer, using the paddle attachment, about 4 minutes. Add 1/2 cup sugar and 1/4 teaspoon salt; beat 3 minutes more, scraping sides down if needed. Add egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each. Set the mixer speed to low and add in flour. Add vanilla.

Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface. Divide into three equal pieces, and shape into flattened disks; wrap in plastic. Refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Set racks to upper and lower third of oven. Line three baking sheets with parchment paper. In a food processor, pulse together walnuts and remaining sugar, the cinnamon, and pinch of salt until finely ground.

rugelach1.jpg
The walnut and sugar mixture

On a lightly floured work surface, roll out one disk of dough into a 10-inch round about 1/4 inch thick. Brush the top evenly with melted jelly. Sprinkle with a third of the walnut mixture and a third of the currants. Press walnut mixture down gently into dough by patting the rolling pin gently on it.

rugelach2.jpg
Chocolate chips and currants go on top

Using a knife or pizza cutter, cut dough into 16 equal wedges. Beginning with rounded edge, roll up to enclose filling. Place 1 inch apart on the parchment-lined baking sheets. Repeat with the rest of the dough and filling. Lightly beat the whole egg. Brush over the rugelach gently, careful not to brush on too much, and sprinkle with the sugar.

rugelach3.jpg
Cut and rolled, ready for the heat

Bake two sheets at a time, rotating halfway through (if you're baking in a convection oven with two elements instead of three (the “true” convection oven), rotating will still make a difference in the results!). Bake until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Repeat with the remaining baking seheet. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Keep in an airtight container for up to 4 days at room temperature (or freeze like I do and bring to room temperature when you've found some able and willing victims!).
rugelach4.jpg
Done!

From
Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook


Update: Talked to my friend Suzanne this morning and she recommends the rugelach recipe from
The Kosher Palette, from Joseph Kushner Hebrew Academy. So now I'm trying to get my hands on this book. None of the libraries around here have it :(. I did check the used book sites, and found some, but they're in the $20+ price range and I've spent my cookbook budget this month LOL, so it will have to wait 'til next month or January. Oh, and Suzanne did say, NO currants. She uses golden raisins instead, which I'm thinking now was what I used years ago when I baked my first rugelach (it was a Gourmet recipe, but I lost it long ago). Suzanne also reminded me that the rugelach queen is our friend Laura, who is an awesome baker. Laura's been baking rugelach for 30 years! But now I'm a bit embarrassed to call her because I haven't talked to her in soooo long!!! Can you imagine me saying, “Hi Laura, it's Stef, remember me? Could I have your rugelach recipe?” Argh.

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