For this years gathering of Christmas cookie club I started preparing two years ago. It went like this: my family ate all of the cookies I received from girls even before Christmas, so I ahd to make new ones, and there they were – so perfect that I decided to bring them to the one of the following gatherings.
The perfect „cookie“ was rugelach, meaning „little wrap“ in Yiddish. I do not know much about Jewish cuisine.I first enjoyed it in the streets of New York in spring 2010. The whole day we spent walking down the Low-East Side, where, between growing Chinese, you can still find romantic Jewish corners with good food. We ate pastrami at Katz’s Deli, then knish few stores away, and then the yummiest thing ever, the rugelach at Russ&daughters. Rugelach!
They were tiny, crispy on the outside, juicy and flaky in the inside, they reminded me a bit of our apple strudel, but only slightly, maybe because of the taste of cinnamon and walnuts, but I saw no apples in it (later I figured the apples were pureed). I have not heard for the rugelach ever before but I loved it immediately. I was reading books and surfing the internet, searching for a recipe, then I found out that rugelach is pretty common and beloved.
First and only recipe I used was the one from Lottie+Doof. It was good, so I still follow it, but on the way, I made some of my adaptions.I put less sugar, I replace white flour with wholewheat or oat flour, I play with the puree Besides that, I use a different baking technique which I saw in some other recipes. OK, enough talking, here is my version of rugelach with cranberries and walnuts.
DRIED CRANBERRIES AND WALNUTS RUGELACH
1 1/2 cup (200g) all purpose flour
1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon (50g) whole wheat flour
7 oz (200g) cream cheese
8 oz (220g) butter (at room temperature)
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup + 1 tablespoon (200 ml) apple puree/butter (or a combination of apple and quince which I used this time; you can replace it with apricot jam, but in that case, reduce the amount of sugar)
1/2 cup (100g) brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 cup (150g) roughly chopped walnuts
7 oz (200g) dried cranberries
1 egg+a teaspoon water
1. Take a larger mixing bowl. Put the cream cheese in it, add butter, cut in smaller pieces. Add sugar and salt. Mix until combined creamy, for about 5-6 minutes. Replace to dough (spiral) hooks and slowly start adding the flour while mixing, until it starts becoming a ball.
2. Take the dough out of the bowl than shape it nicely into a bowl, wrap firmly in a foil and put in the fridge to sit for at least an hour.
3. If you do not have apple puree, make it now.
Use 3-4 apples. Peel them, cut into quarters and cook in some water until they soften (it depends which apples you are using, so time can vary between 5 and 15 minutes). Add some sugar or honey, to taste, and some cinnamon (1/2 teaspoon), then mash it together (or puree it with a hand mixer).
4. Take the dough out of the fridge and cut it in 4 approximately equal pieces. While you are working with the first one, put the rest back in the fridge.
5. Take a big baking tray and cover it with parchment paper.
6. On the working surface, using two pieces of foil (or two parchment papers), roll out the dough in a rectangular shape (approx. 30×15 cm), longer side facing you. Take of upper foil than spread the puree on the entire surface of the dough, leaving out 2 cm from the edges. Sprinkle it with walnuts and cranberries. lastly, sprinkle the sugar and cinnamon mixture over it.
7. Start rolling the dough into a „sausage“ and when you reach the end, put the side ends under it. Place it in the. tray. Repeat with the remaining 3 pieces of dough.
8. Preheat the oven to 375 Fahrenheit.
9. Take a sharp knife than make a xxx on every 2-2,5 cm (around 1 inch), but not cutting it all the way through.
10. Beat an egg with a teaspoon of water. Wash the štruce with it, then sprinkle rest of the sugar-cinnamon mixture over it. Bake it for 30 min until rugelach becomes golden brown on top.
11. Take rugelachs out of the oven and let them cool slightly, then transfer them with the parchment paper to a wire rack to cool completely. Before serving, cut the rugelach pieces all the way through.
My girls were very excited about rugelachs and they said they were the best cookies on a this year’s gathering!
On the next few pictures you will see me, packing rugelachs for my girls in old paper bags. Why? Because our host gave us assignment to make each package with the cost of 4 HRK (70 cents!). Although our first reaction to that was that it is impossible to do that, we managed, and felt great about it! I think we should add this rule for the coming years! 😉