Rugelach is a classic Jewish pastry that’s not at all hard to make at home. This version is full of chocolate and dried cranberries! Bonus: They freeze well and keep well!
When I traveled to the East Coast during the holidays, I was required to fulfill a rugelach mission for my friends who were transplanted New Yorkers.
This involved a trip to the Babka Bakery on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, where I would pick up a big batch of rugelach to bring home with me.
These tiny, rich pastries with fruit, nut, and chocolate filling were a revelation to me, and so it became my personal mission to recreate them, without the plane trip.
WHAT ARE RUGELACH COOKIES?
Rugelach’s origins are Jewish—the name is Yiddish for “little twists” and pronounced “RUE-geh-loch”.
The little rolled cookies — which are sometimes shaped as crescents and sometimes simply rolled — are commonly found in Israeli cafes. Their popularity in the U.S. has grown considerably and they are featured in many city bakeries here.
WHAT ARE SOME POPULAR FILLINGS FOR RUGELACH?
The barely sweetened cream cheese dough is rich, and it’s just right to offset the sweet filling, which usually contains a combination of chocolate, cinnamon and nuts.
Filling variations range from apricot, raisins, cranberries and poppy seed to raspberry jam or marmalade.
Instead of the cranberries in this recipe, you could finely chop apricots or figs, keep or skip the chocolate or add some finely chopped walnuts or almonds. You could also try a combination of chopped walnuts and raspberry jam or marmalade.
EASY RUGELACH DOUGH
Whether you mix the dough together in a bowl with a wooden spoon or use a stand mixer, the dough comes together in just a few minutes.
Divide it into portions, and refrigerate it until firm before you roll out the pastries. It’s easiest to work with when cool.
Once you have the dough chilled and the filling ready, work with one portion of the dough at a time to roll it into a circle and then top it with filling.
The magic happens next, when you cut the circle into wedges and roll up the tiny pastries (and I do mean tiny) to form crescents. This is when you put your favorite music on and enjoy the process.
HOW BIG TO MAKE RUGELACH COOKIES
The crescents really are tiny, about an inch in length. Although my grandmother didn’t make rugelach, they remind me of her assortment of Christmas cookies. I swear I used to think you needed a magnifying glass to see the little dots of her dough spread out on the baking sheets.
So yes, these one-bite wonders are small!
That said, if you want slightly larger cookies, you can divide the dough into four rather than six portions. Roll the dough into 4-inch wide rectangles and cut them into larger triangles.
HOW TO FREEZE RUGELACH
- To freeze unbaked rugelach: Fill and roll the rugelach, and then freeze them on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Once frozen, transfer them to a plastic freezer bag. Take them straight from the freezer to the oven to bake them, adding a few more minutes to the baking time.
- To freeze baked rugelach: If you’d like to OHIO (Only Handle it Once), you can bake the cookies and when cool, enclose them in plastic freezer bags. Spread them on a rack to defrost.
In either case, the optimal storage time in the freezer is two months.
ENJOY WITH COFFEE!
Whether you make them ahead or gobble them up immediately, you’ll feel oh so sophisticated munching these dainty morsels with a cup of coffee.