I guess if you had to assign a signature recipe to my mother, this would be it. Every Christmas, my mom would make a tray of home baked cookies to take to her sister's house or my cousin's house, depending upon who was doing Christmas that year. Her choice of cookies changed from year to year, but the one constant that remained was her rugelach. She baked them exclusively for the holidays, and it was expected that they would be present on every tray. They were everyone's favorite. They became known as Aunt Dot's Rugelach. Even I call them Aunt Dot's rugelach, and she is my mother. "Did Aunt Dot make her rugelach?" or "Aunt Dot's rugelach is here" is how we were usually greeted at the door. My cousins and I all had the same idea to sneak one off the tray before dinner; heck no one would notice just one missing. The problem was, when you multiply 10 or 12 people sneaking just one cookie, it gets noticed. My mother, wise woman that she was, eventually brought an extra tin of rugelach along to fill in the holes.
My mom use to bake her rugelach with a raisin and nut filling. It wasn't until I took over the Christmas baking, that I began to add some apricot or raspberry jam. Sometimes I'd fill them with a cocoa-chocolate bit filling. You can use any jam or dried fruit that you like. I find it easier to mix the pastry the night before I want to bake the cookies. I mix the dough, wrap the dough in wax paper and refrigerate it overnight. I take the dough out of the refrigerator an hour before I am ready to roll the pastry and they are the perfect temperature. They take a little time to make, but they are well worth the effort. Add some rugelach to your cookie tray this year. My mom would be happy!
|Cookie bags for EVERYONE!|
Aunt Dot's Rugelach
Adapted from Dorothy Lieske, my mom's recipe
Makes about 48 cookies
The pastry dough:
- 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature (Do not use whipped)
- 8 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 3 1/4 cup flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
On a slow speed, add in the flour and salt and mix until the flour is completely incorporated.
Turn dough out only a board and divide into 6 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a circle, and flatten with your hand, making a 1inch thick disk. Wrap each disk in wax paper or plastic wrap.
The filling and baking:
If dough has been refrigerated overnight, remove from refrigerator an hour before baking.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Line cookie sheets with parchment or silpat. THIS IS A CRUCIAL STEP!!! If you don't you'll have a jammy mess on your hands!
- 1/4 cup white sugar
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
- 1/3 chopped raisins, dried apricots or a mixture of both (dried cherries or any other dried fruit will work)
- 1/2 cup (or so) jam (I like seedless raspberry and apricot the best. Use good quality thick jam.)
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 tablespoons water
- 2 tablespoons sugar
Mix the sugars with the cinnamon in a small bowl. Assemble other ingredients. (My mom used to mix the nuts and fruit with the sugar. I like to keep them separate and strategically place them on the pastry for maximum distribution.)
On a lightly floured board, roll one disk into an 8 inch circle. Spread jam in a thin layer on the dough, (I do not spread any jam on the outer 1/2 inch of the circle, as well as the very center of the circle. It makes for a neater roll.) Sprinkle dough with 2 tablespoons of the sugar mixture. Then sprinkle with nuts and dried fruit. Cut into 8 pie shaped wedges. (I sometimes roll a larger circle and cut 12 wedges. A pizza cutter works well for this).
Starting at the wide end, roll toward the center forming a crescent shape.
Place on lines cookie sheet. Roll remaining wedges, placing them 1" apart on the cookie sheet with the point-side down. If you do not put them point-side down the tend to open while they are baking. Repeat this process with the remaining dough.
Mix egg yolk with water. Brush all cookies with the egg wash. Sprinkle a pinch of sugar on each cookie. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 15 minutes. Remove from oven. Immediately remove from cookie sheet and allow to cool on racks. When cool, store in an airtight container.