Friday, December 11, 2009

Raspberry Rugelach . . . and that's just for starters!

Well, it's two weeks until the big day and there's no denying that bakers of all stripes are now in the thick of hardcore cookie-production. Can't you just hear the well-oiled gears of the Christmas cookie-baking machine churning away all over America? I can. I've been hearing them rev up for weeks now. Sometimes they're so loud they keep me up at night. Who's out there baking at 3 in the morning anyway? (Honey, whoever you are, just back away from your sanding sugar and go get some sleep. Don't argue with me.)

Until this morning, I hadn't yet put my own cookie-making pedal to the metal (forgive the mixed metaphors . . . you know I how I love to mix things). I am obligated to crank out a lot of cookies over the next few days. A few dozen for a church fundraiser, probably at least eight dozen for my husband's office holiday event, not to mention cookies to keep at home and freeze for the actual holidays themselves. Oh, and can't forget some for my 82-year old dad and my older brother. And let's not leave out my sister, Joanie, who has an annual craving for our late mom's old thumbprint recipe. She'll be blowing into town from Connecticut on the 23rd (she's always been one to cut it close).

Got my work cut out for me . . .

I waded buoyantly into the cookie-making fray at 8:00 a.m. this morning, mere minutes after my youngest son left for school. Clutching a recipe for raspberry rugelach, I felt compelled to get my foot in the holiday-cookie door largely because I knew I could throw the dough together really quickly, toss it in the fridge for its mandatory chill, and then go about the business of my non-baking life for a while and do the assembly and baking later on today (yes, I do sometimes engage in non-baking related pursuits, contrary to popular belief; woman does not live by baked goods alone, you know).

As for the particular recipe that I chose, I read through a handful of them for rugelach last night and thought this one seemed a little more logically structured than the others. It's from the book Baking at Home with the Culinary Institute of America. (This is a great resource; the very first blog post I did was for blueberry muffins, from this book, and they were exceptional.) I made no changes at all to the formula. It sounded really good to me as is. I did, though, do some of my usual editorializing in the instructions, along with a little rewording here and there.

I'm glad I picked this recipe because the combined flavors meld together beautifully. We have raspberry (always a hit), a barely perceptible hint of chocolate (who could complain?), pecans (yeah, like those too), and cinnamon (nothing negative to say about cinnamon . . . it's so lovable). Rugelach is actually a pretty simple item to make, but it looks deceptively time consuming. That kind of deception is a good thing at Christmas. It gets you way more "ooohhs" and "ahhhhs" than a run o' the mill sugar cookie (though I have nothing against those either . . . you guys know I don't discriminate). So go ahead. No more procrastinating. Get your cookie engine running and go make some rugelach!

Raspberry Rugelach

(For a printable version of this recipe, click here!)

2 cups All Purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
8 oz cream cheese at room temperature
1 and 1/2 cups pecans, toasted
1/3 cup chopped semisweet chocolate (optional; I used mini chocolate chips)
1 cup raspberry jam (I used seedless)
1/3 cup cinnamon sugar (1/3 cup sugar mixed with 1/2 tsp. cinnamon)
egg wash (1 large egg, beaten with 2 Tbsp. milk or cold water; I used water)

Sift the flour and salt into a bowl and set aside.

In a mixer, using the paddle attachment, cream together the cream cheese and butter on medium speed for about 2 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, mix in the dry ingredients just until combined, scraping the bowl as needed to evenly blend. Tightly wrap the dough and chill it for 15 to 20 minutes, or until it's firm.

Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface until it's 1 inch thick all over. Fold the dough over into thirds, like you'd fold a letter. Wrap the dough and chill it for at least 1 hour, and up to 24 hours.

To prepare the filling, combine the pecans and chocolate in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse repeatedly until the mixture forms a coarse paste. (I pulsed until a bit of it held together when I pressed with my fingers; it was not truly like "paste" for me, but it worked just fine the way it was.) Dump it all into a bowl, add in all of the jam, and stir until it's well combined.
When you're ready to assemble and bake, preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Line your cookie sheets with parchment paper. Divide the chilled dough into 4 equal pieces. Return three of them to the fridge while you work on the first one.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a 10" circle. Spread 1/4 of the filling evenly all over the circle, extending almost right up to the edge. Sprinkle 1/4 of the cinnamon sugar evenly over the filling.

Cut the circle evenly into wedges; 16 if you want very small rugelach, 12 if you'd like them slightly larger (I used a sharp pizza wheel to cut them; I made mine into 12 wedges and they were still small). Roll the wedges up, starting at the wide end. Curve the ends in slightly, like a crescent, if you wish.

Place them on your lined cookie sheet. Brush them gently with the egg wash, and sprinkle each one with cinnamon sugar.

Bake them until light golden brown, for approximately 25 to 30 minutes (mine only took about 22 minutes). Transfer the finished rugelach to wire racks and cool them completely before storing or serving them.

(If you'd like to comment on this post, or to read any existing comments, just click on the purple COMMENTS below!)


My Casa Bella said...

Oh, I've had these before but not with Raspberry in the filling. They look scrumptious, just have some coffee or tea ready, please....LOL

Jane said...

Hi there Arlene,

Okay--I'm putting the coffee on for you right now! :)

I need to make more of these tomorrow, and I think I might try a variation on the filling . . . maybe mostly chocolate or maybe apricot . . .

Take care,

kathyvegas said...

I've been looking for a good rugelach recipe and U think I've just found it. Can't wait to give this a try!

Kate at Serendipity said...

Oh, Jane, these look amazing. I love rugelach, and they're not available here. That makes them perfect for holiday baking!

I'm planning to give them a try, but I have a small problem and I'm wondering if you can help me a little: I can't buy chocolate chips here in Belgium. Chocolate is no problem, though. I just don't know how much chocolate is in 1/3 cup. Do you have a way to weigh them? If you can tell me how much 1/3 cup of chocolate chips weigh, I can just chop some chocolate and go from there. If you don't have a scale, maybe you could tell me how many cups are in the bag that weighs xx ounces? Thanks in advance!

Jane said...

Hi Kate,

More than happy to help

I just did some weighing on my digital food scale, and 1/3 of a level cup of Nestle mini-chocolate semisweet chips (or the chopped up equivalent of any typical chocolate, I assume) comes to 72.5 grams, or 2.75 oz. Does that sound correct?

Good luck with your rugelach!

:) Jane

HanaĆ¢ said...

Beautiful Jane! I've never had these before. Will have to try it!

Btw, I finally posted pics of my new kitchen. Check it out! :o)

Oh, and I'm allergic to most nuts (+ coconut), except almonds, cashews and pistachios, for which I'm very grateful :o)

Jane said...

Hi Jane,
Thanks for following me! You have a great blog! Everything looks so delicious! I look forward to reading more of your recipes.


~~louise~~ said...

Good morning Jane!
Looks like I'm just in time for coffee!

I have seen many a rugelach in my day but for some reason, I have never felt the urge to try them. Yours look so tender and tempting. Simply heavenly.

I'm not much of a baker but I think I'll save this post just in case the urge should hit me.

Thank you so much for sharing...I just LOVE your blog!!!

Allison said...

These look great, Jane! I have to admit I haven't started my cookie engine yet this year. But my candy machine has been churning pretty steadily Rugelach has been on my list of 'things to make' though. I love how you can do pretty much any variation for the filling. Thanks for sharing this recipe!

The Scootabaker said...

Hmm, they don't look to hard to make. I think I'd like to tackle these next! Thanks for the idea!!!


faithy, the amateur baker said...

these rugelach look so good!! now you make me wanna bake some..i've never baked rugelach before.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for convincing me to make these cookies! They're easily the yummiest cookies I've ever baked.

I found you through Foodgawker, and I'm so glad they're easy, because I have a feeling these are going to be an annual tradition.

Jane said...

Hi Hanaa, Jane, Louise, Allison, Heather (Scootabaker!), Faithy, and Anonymous,

Many thanks for all those nice comments.

Allison, I have really never made any kind of candy before, but I'd love to give it a whirl someday.

Anonymous, can't tell you how much I love hearing that the recipe turned out well for you!!

Isn't this a great time of year to be a baker???

:) Jane

Elisa said...

I always wanted to make Rugelach but felt intimidated by them. This year, I jumped in and made them. I had alot of difficulty creating a circle with the dough and therefore didn't get NEARLY the amount I should have, but the ones I did manage to make were amazing. My husband loved them and he is a brownie/chocolate chip cookie lover so I knew I did a great job.
ps-I could have eaten the filling alone-so amazing!!!

Jane said...

Dear Jane,

Do you think substituting walnuts for the chocolate chips would throw the recipe off? I like the sound of the recipe you used, but I prefer raspberry walnut rugelach. Any changes you would suggest if I substituted?

Jane (that's my name as well)

Jane said...

Hi Jane (hey, I like your name!),
I assume walnuts could work fine. I figure maybe you'd need to chop them really, really small and make sure you have enough jam on each piece of dough. If I were you, I think I'd bake a couple little test pieces before filling all the rest of the dough. I'd want to see if they seemed to be holding together well, and if they were sweet enough, then go for it. And thanks so much for visiting!
:) Jane