Today’s Timeless Traditions Post comes from Sarah of My Frosted Life. She shares with us her chocolate rugelach, her take on the traditional Jewish cookie. Sarah’s website is sooo full of recipes that you will want to make. Her current Holiday Cookie Masterclass has me drooling and planning and baking.
Every year the holidays are signaled by colder weather, snow, and cookie baking. Growing up outside of Boston, the cold weather often made outdoor activities less enjoyable (unless there was enough snow for sledding!). Instead, we would make several mugs of hot cocoa and start baking!
As the resident baker of the house (even as a kid) I would get out my go-to cookie books and pick a few of my favorite recipes. The rest of the day would be full of creaming butter and scooping cookie dough. By the day’s end, Hurricane Sarah as my parents liked to call it, would have rolled through the kitchen. On the bright side, my family always enjoyed the abundance of cookies.
Besides baking some classic cookies, such as sugar cookies, chocolate crinkles, and triple chocolate cookies (a family favorite), rugelach was our special holiday cookie. Rugelach is a traditional Jewish cookie that consists of a cream cheese pastry or yeast dough filled with a variety of fillings. The classic rugelach filling is walnuts and cinnamon although chocolate is definitely my favorite. I greatly prefer rugelach made with a cream cheese dough as it is very flaky and tender, almost like pie crust.
These cookies hold special memories of my sister and I insisting that we go to almost every bakery, especially when we were visiting New York City. We would go into the bakeries and peer through the glass cases until we found the rugelach, the chocolate rugelach to be specific. We would always ask our parents to get some and the rugelach usually did not make it the 4 and ½ hour drive back to Boston.
My grandparents always shopped at Costco. They shopped for everything there, even though they were just two people. While that was not necessarily the most economically efficient way to shop, I loved it since they would very often get a huge package of freshly baked rugelach at Costco (we all know that at Costco there is only one size of everything and that is extra large!). For this reason (among many others), I remember always looking forward to visiting my grandparents.
In the Costco package of rugelach, there were two flavors, raspberry and chocolate. My sister and I would always pick out the chocolate ones leaving the raspberry rugelach for everyone else since we all know that anything with chocolate is the best. Although I loved spending time with my grandparents, the treats they got us were a wonderful perk.
As I got older, I got more and more interested in baking. At one point I even wanted to attend culinary school. Although I did not go to culinary school, baking has always remained a passion of mine. For holiday gifts I would often give homemade cookies. One year, when deliberating with my sister over what to bake for my grandparents’, rugelach came to mind. We then headed off to the grocery store to get the ingredients.
Since we had never made rugelach before we were disappointed to learn that the dough needed to chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. But I quickly learned that it is hands down worth the wait! While I loved the rugelach from Costco, nothing can beat homemade rugelach (I promise!!). We continued our baking adventure and by the end, we (and everything else) was covered in flour. As you may have inferred, I am definitely not a neat baker. But in my opinion, that just makes it more fun!
By the end of the day, we had dozens of delicious, but sometimes misshapen rugelach. My grandparents loved this treat and baking these cookies quickly became a holiday tradition. I hope that you try these cookies and can enjoy them as much as my family and I have for many years!
This recipe is my take on classic rugelach. I use sour cream in the dough as it adds a nice tangy flavor and gives the rugelach the perfect texture. Make sure all of the ingredients for your dough are cold, I cannot stress this enough. Cold butter, cream cheese, and sour cream give the dough its flaky texture, similar to how the cold butter is used in pie dough. They won’t necessarily look perfect, but they will sure taste amazing and are completely worth the extra effort!
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, cold and cubed
- 8 ounces cream cheese, cold and cubed
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 1 cup walnuts
- 2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- pinch of salt
- 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tablespoon water
- coarse sugar (if desired)
Measure the flour and salt into the bowl of a food processor, pulsing several times to mix. Add the cubed butter, cubed cream cheese, and sour cream. Run the food processor until the dough comes together. Divide the dough into 4 portions wrapping each portion in plastic wrap. Place the dough in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
In the bowl of a food processor place the walnuts, chocolate chips, cocoa powder, sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Pulse until all the ingredients are finely ground. Place the mixture into a bowl and stir in the softened butter. The filling should be the consistency of a thick paste.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a small bowl whisk together the egg yolk and water, set aside.
Roll out each disc of dough into a 10-inch circle. Using a 9-inch cake pan cut your dough in a circle. Spread a thin layer of filling on the dough leaving a ½ an inch border on all sides. Slice your dough into 16 wedges. Starting with the widest part of each wedge of dough, roll the dough into 16 pieces. Using a pastry brush or a corner of paper towel brush each rugelach with the egg yolk mixture. If desired, sprinkle cookies with coarse sugar. Repeat this process with the remaining three discs of dough.
Place the rugelach 2 inches apart on a lined baking sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove the rugelach from the pan and let them finish cooling on a wire rack. Store the rugelach in a sealed container for 3-4 days.
When rolling out the dough, use powdered sugar to ensure that the dough does not stick to the rolling pin.
To roll the dough into a circle rotate the dough 45° after a few rolls of the rolling pin.
It is perfectly fine to use the extra dough scraps to make another batch of rugelach. Due to the repeated handling of the dough, these rugelach may be less flaky but are still delicious!
If you do not have a food processor you can use a pastry cutter or your fingers to cut the cream cheese, butter, and sour cream into the dough.
Take each ball of dough out of the refrigerator when ready to use. Keeping the dough as cold as possible will ensure a flaky pastry.
If the dough is too sticky or difficult to roll, place it in the refrigerator for 15 minutes until it firms up.
Do not worry if the filling bleeds out of the pastry when baking. Simply transfer the rugelach to a cooling rack as soon as possible so the extra filling does not cool and stick to your cookies!