“Rugelach” means “little twists” in Yiddish, but these two-bite pastries are traditionally baked in a crescent shape.
Cream Cheese Dough
Cream cheese dough, unlike pie crusts and other pastry constructs, is almost fool-proof. You don’t have to worry about the weather and if you have a food processor, you can put this together in half a minute.
1 pkg, (8 ounces) cream cheese (or Neufchatel)
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter
2 ½ cups flour
½ tsp. salt
Food Processor Directions
Put all ingredients into the bowl of your food processor. Using a metal blade, Pulse the ingredients until the cream cheese and butter have integrated with the flour in a smooth dough. This will take 10 to 20 seconds.
Cover the ball of dough with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour or up to a day.
Old School Directions
I am one of those cooks who prefers intimate contact with ingredients, but if you have a heavy-weight stand mixer, by all means, use it.
If you’re mixing by hand:
Begin with cold butter and cream cheese, which is easier to work with.
Mix the flour and salt in a large bowl. Cut up the butter and cheese into small chunks and then, using a fork or a metal cut into the flour as if you were making traditional pie crust or biscuits. The idea is to integrate the fat into the flour so that there are no big globs.
The mixture will be crumbly. Gather into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and chill for up to 24 hours.
Note: some people put sugar in their cream cheese dough but this rugelach filling is so rich and sweet that you don’t need a sweet dough.
Chocolate Chip Filling
If you want a variety of rugelach, you can always choose to use jam (apricot and raspberry are traditional) or a cinnamon/sugar/nut mixture in the cookies.
½ cup granulated sugar
¾ cup (1 six-ounce pkg.) semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
2 ½ tsp. cinnamon
¼ stick butter, melted
Combine the cinnamon and sugar.
Assembling the Pastry
Remove dough from refrigerator and divide into four balls. Return three balls to the fridge.
Roll the ball of dough into a disk about 1/8 inch thick. Immediately brush with ¼ of the melted butter. Then sprinkle a quarter of the cinnamon-sugar mixture over the butter.
Sprinkle ¼ of the chocolate chips over the butter and cinnamon/sugar mixture. Press the chips into the dough with the back of a spatula or a rolling pin. Cut the disk into 12 wedges.
Note: This is easier if you have a pizza cutter.
Roll each pastry wedge up starting from the outside, wide edge.
Put the completed rugelach on an ungreased cookie sheet and chill for half an hour before baking.
Preheat oven to 350.
Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes until the rugelach are golden brown. Cool on racks.
Rugelach freeze well. If eating immediately, store extras in an air-tight container.
Makes 4 dozen.