These rugelach are a terrific cookie to add to your holiday dessert platter, though we like them so much we serve them year-round. Rugelach generally come in one of two forms, either shaped like a crescent roll, or prepared the way we have here, like a strudel. I've always liked them this way because it's easier to get a thicker layer of filling using this shape (hey….who are you calling a pig?), but if you prefer the look, or dough to filling ratio of the crescent shape, then by all means roll them that way.
Over the years I've had rugelach with all sorts of different fillings, but they are most commonly made with either a raisin-nut filling (like these), an apricot filling, or a chocolate one. I find the raisin version reminiscent of Fig Newtons which are my all-time favorite cookie, so I tend to make this version most. The key to the tender richness of these lovelies is the copious amount of fat in the dough (sorry, but you probably won't want to be eating these every week lest you start looking like a raisin stuffed cookie yourself). Butter, cream cheese and sour cream work their magic here, making this easy to work dough a real heart-stopper, and I mean that in a good way…..you've been warned.
If you're not a slave to tradition, play with the filling here and come up with a rugelach that is all your own. I think the next time I make them I may work to come up with a fig filling that will get me one step closer to making my own "Newtons".
Cheers – Steve
For the dough:
- 2¼ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the work surface
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into chunks and chilled
- 8 ounces cream cheese, cut into chunks
- 2 tablespoons sour cream or Greek style plain yogurt
- 2 large egg yolks (for an egg wash)
- granulated or crystal sugar for sprinkling
For the raisin filling:
- 3/4 cup raisins
- Enough water to cover the raisins
- 4 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
- Pinch of salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup walnuts, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup apricot preserves, pureed in a food processor
for the dough:
- Pulse the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor until combined. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse sand with some pea-size pieces of butter. Add the cream cheese and sour cream (or yogurt) until the batter starts to pull away from the side of the hopper and come together into a rough dough.
- Turn the dough out of the bowl onto a floured work surface and divide into 4 portions. Pat each portion into a thin rectangle, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for about an hour.
Meanwhile, make the raisin filling:
- Put the raisins in a medium saucepan and cover with the water. Add the sugars, salt, cinnamon, and vanilla. Simmer over low heat until almost all the water is absorbed and the raisins are plumped, about 30 minutes. Drain any excess water from the raisins and transfer them to a blender or food processor and pulse. Add the walnuts and process again to form a paste. Stir in the apricot jam and set aside to cool.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line two half-sheet pans with parchment paper.
- Roll a portion of the dough into a rectangle about 1/8 inch thick. Spread with 1/4 of the raisin paste. Starting with the long side, roll up the dough to make a tight cylinder. Flatten it a bit, and wrap in plastic wrap. Place the cylinder in the refrigerator to rest and firm up while you repeat this process with the remaining portions of dough.
- Slice the cylinders into 1½-inch pieces, and place each piece seam side down on the prepared pans. Whisk the egg yolks and brush over the tops. Sprinkle with granulated sugar.
- Bake about 25 minutes, or until golden and crispy.
- Cool for a few minutes on the pans, then transfer the rugelach to a wire rack to cool completely.