This is for all my Jewish friends and in-law family. Let me start by wishing you a Happy Chanukah! I know this is a Christmas cookie blog, but I came across this recipe for Rugelach and thought it would be a good addition to jointly celebrate Christmas and Chanukah. My first attempt at making Rugelach so if you have any tips to share after reading this, please do so. If you have made Rugelach all your life, this is my rendition, if you haven’t – you must try this.

For the filling, there is the sugared walnut base and for the topping, the recipe suggested currants or chocolate or a combination – I did all three. When the dough was ready, I divided it into three discs and refrigerated. Each disc got it’s own topping. I was lucky that my daughter was home so I could share the experiment with her  – she is my other official sweet-thing taster, so she should also learn how to make them.  Of course I had to try making one disc on my own just to make sure I got the technique before getting her involved. These little crescent shaped pastries are packed with flavor, they are small – but you could make them larger (but you know I like small cookies at this festive time, more sampling of my baked goods). From a 11 – 12″ circle of dough, you get 16 crescents, so this batch made about 50 pieces. The last disc of dough, the combined currant and chocolate, I took the liberty of making jelly roll style, slicing and baking. I didn’t mind that they weren’t round, I think they look nicer a little squished (from cutting). They baked well, but the timing was much shorter than the recipe suggested. About 15 minutes in the lower third of the oven at 350F in a convection oven. Again, the recipe suggested 20 – 25 minutes, however, seeing the softness of the dough and the size of each pastry, I set my timer for 13 minutes and checked – almost done, but perfectly done at 15 minutes.

The dough, oh my goodness, is an absolute delight to work with. It has cream cheese and butter – what a combination. Soft, pliable and most of all really tasty. It was easy to roll out and maintain the circular shape as well. The trick is to lightly flour the work surface and keep turning the dough and flipping over as you roll. Keep your thickness of dough to an even 1/8″. This is important for as you add the currants or pieces of chocolate – I used Lindt Dark Chocolate and pulsed it a few times in the processor to get a small pebble size, the dough doesn’t tear or pierce when rolling them up. Keep unused dough refrigerated, reroll scraps, refrigerate and roll out again.

I used the lid of a 12″ pan to make sure I had a perfect circle. Cut the circle in 4, cut each quarter in half, then each half into two pieces – 16 in total. A little patience with rolling into crescents – really it’s instinctive and becomes second nature about your 3rd piece in. It doesn’t expand during cooking so you can place them about 1″ apart on the parchment lined baking sheet. I also used coarse sugar as I had some at home – I didn’t have sanding sugar. I tried a few with regular sugar and it didn’t do it for me so did all the remaining pieces with the coarse sugar. One last thing, microwave or heat up the jam/jelly slightly using short 15 second bursts in the microwave or in a small pan. Please use a soft brush when brushing it onto the pastry, same with the egg wash. Do not use the hard plastic kind, you will shred the pastry (if you have one of those white plastic brushes, throw them out please and get a soft silicon or bristle brush instead). As always – enjoy!

For the Dough
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
3 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Pinch of coarse salt
2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling out dough

For the Filling
4 ounces walnuts
1/2 cup sugar
Pinch of cinnamon
Pinch of salt
12 ounces apricot jelly, melted
2 cups mini semisweet chocolate chips, or currants or a combination

For the Finishing
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup fine sanding sugar

Make the dough:
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together butter and cream cheese at medium speed
Add sugar, and beat until fluffy
Beat in egg yolks, one at a time, beating to combine after each addition
Add vanilla and salt, and beat to combine
Reduce speed to low, and beat in flour
Remove from bowl, and divide into 3 pieces on a lightly floured surface
Pat into disks, and wrap in plastic wrap – refrigerate for at least 1 hour, and up to overnight.

Make the filling:
In a food processor, combine walnuts, sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Pulse until fine.

Preheat the oven to 350F degrees
Line baking sheets with parchment paper (original recipe said silpat, I prefer parchment)
On a lightly floured surface, roll one piece of dough into a 12-inch round, less than 1/8 inch thick
Brush evenly with jelly – sprinkle with one-third of the walnut mixture and one-third of the chocolate chips
Using the rolling pin, gently roll over filling to press ingredients into dough.

Cut the round into 16 equal-sized wedges
Beginning at the broad part of the wedge, roll to the narrow part – please ensure the roll is balanced i.e. the narrow part is centered in the middle of the roll, and curve to form a crescent shape
Place on prepared baking sheets
Repeat with remaining dough and filling ingredients
Brush tops lightly with beaten egg, and sprinkle with the sugar.

Bake until golden brown, remember there is butter and cream cheese in this pastry so it shouldn’t take that long. As well, the egg wash will brown even if the pastry isn’t done, just loosely cover with foil and keep in the oven until done – check by the minute. Please note, the original recipe said 20 – 25 minutes. It took me 13 – 15 minutes in a convection oven, so please watch the first batch, note the timing and adjust your recipe accordingly. Remember you take it out of the oven and it isn’t fully baked, you can immediately put it back in for longer. If you over bake, you will have dry or burned pastry. So timing is critical!

Rugelach 2F

Lightly rolling the filling into the dough.

Rugelach 5F

Currant and Chocolate – jelly roll style

Rugelach 6F

Waiting to go into the oven.

Rugelach 4f

Just out of the oven – this is the first batch. Currant flavor

Rugelach 1F

This is how I roll!

Rugelach 7