Mr. Sive’s Rugelach

December 9, 2020

Mr. Sive is sharing his rugelach recipe with you all below on this Wine & Dine Wednesday. I promise I did not eat that entire plate full in one sitting, but I certainly could have. These are little nuggets of pure magic. Try with coffee or tea or with a glass of red. Take it away TPS!

As I started to write this post—that rugelach are one of my sure ways to my husband’s heart—I realize I’ve stated that before. Hmmmm. I guess I’m glad I’ve had a lot of culinary paths to that destination over the past almost 33 years.  

The most unique thing about rugelach is the pastry, which features cream cheese and butter. It adds a sightly savory, richer texture that is just a terrific match with the nutty filling.

For the pastry, take a room-temperature 8 oz package of cream cheese, ½ pound of butter, and whip (for a standing mixer, use the paddle) until light. Add ¼ cup of granulated sugar and 1 teaspoon of vanilla, and whip until just mixed. Add 2 cups flour, and again, whip until just mixed. (Previous readers of my posts on baking know my feelings about salt in baking; if you must, add some here.) Collect all the dough with a rubber spatula, and form on a floured surface into a ball. Split the ball in 4 even parts, shape those lightly into balls, cover with plastic wrap, and chill for an hour.

My “secret” to rugelach is LOTS of filling. My suggestion here is 2-4 times the amount you’ll find in other recipes. Trust me: while the dough is tasty, rugelach without lots of filling can be kind of bland. Place 2 ½ cups of whole walnuts and 2 cups of raisins onto a cutting board, and chop together until medium fine. (Chopping these together helps blend the flavors and textures.) Then, add ¼ cup of dark brown sugar, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, and mix until evenly blended.  

On a well-floured surface (cold stone or stainless-steel counters are great!), flatten one of the discs of dough, sprinkle flour on top, and roll out to about a 10” circle. DO NOT worry about having a perfect circle. Mine are always shaggy and lopsided, but once you cut and roll, it all gets nicely hidden. Brush the surface of the dough with ¼ cup of whisked preserves of your choice—we love apricot and raspberry. Then spread with your hands or a large spoon ¼ of the nut mixture evenly on top. With a long sharp knife, cut the circle in quarters, and then each quarter into thirds for 12 pie shaped sections total. Starting with the thick end, roll up the dough, pinching a titch as you go along, and then place on a parchment lined baking sheet with the tip of the dough on the bottom. As with all pastry doughs, you want to err on the side of underworking and not sweat perfect mixing. When assembling the cookies, the dough will be a bit elastic. Put in the refrigerator and cool.  

With a form make a wash with 1 egg and 1 tablespoon of milk and brush each cookie. Sprinkle each generously with cinnamon sugar (3 tablespoons white sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon), and bake in a pre-heated 350-degree oven for 15 or so minutes, until golden on top, with the dough still chewy.

Cool on a rack, keep the everyone at bay so they don’t burn their mouths, and enjoy this path to your true love’s inner soul.