Last month, my Sisterhood was asked to provide eight dozen rugelach for the opening at the Montevallo Parnell Memorial Library of the ‘Darkness Into Life: Alabama Holocaust Survivors Through Photography and Art‘ exhibit (it’s open through December 4th).
It’s a traveling exhibit so it’s been several places and is booked for a while now, but it’s available to be borrowed by schools, community centers, and museums across the US for the future. And if you’re wanting to bring the exhibit to your institution inside the state of Alabama, it’s free. Nice.
So anyway, of course I said I would bake those rugelach! It’s a nice exhibit, and I know several of the Survivors (many of them go to my synagogue) – two of them are sisters whom I just love, and if you’re interested, you can read their story here. One of the sisters, Ilse, is a fantastic cook and baker, and I’m making her matzo kleis tomorrow as part of our Thanksgiving supper. I’m in the middle of making around 20 pies right now for a church that feeds the hungry Thanksgiving lunch tomorrow. Pumpkin, pecan, fudge, buttermilk coconut pies, and maybe even some pralines if I really get going tonight. Doesn’t it all sound so good? Smells good.
Well, back to the rugelach. Rugelach are one of the most popular Jewish cookies. One of the great things about these little cookies is the way you can ‘personalize’ them. A traditional filling is walnuts and apricot preserves, but I live in Alabama, so I’m using local products: pecans and muscadine jelly. Of course, white and brown sugar always make things taste good too. And golden raisins are nice…
Recipe – this makes four dozen rugelach:
2-1/2 cups flour – all-purpose, White Lily is great
1-1/2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 sticks butter (16 tbsp), cut into pieces
8 oz cream cheese, also cut up a bit, to make mixing easier
2 tbsp sour cream
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup pecans, chopped into small pieces
1/2 cup muscadine jelly (or whatever you like best)
1/2 cup golden raisins
1 egg, beaten
quick splash of milk
1. In the Kitchenaid (you could do this in the Cuisinart also), mix together the dry dough ingredients and then add the butter, cream cheese, and sour cream. Don’t over mix, but get it all well-incorporated.
2. On a well-floured board, make it into a round shape (the dough will be really sticky)
3. Cut into four equal portions
4. Press each portion into a disk shape, wrap in Saran, and refrigerate for at least one hour
5. Preheat the oven to 375*. Roll out one portion at a time onto a well-floured board. Now, rolling things out is one of my least favorite things to do. If you roll out the dough and it’s cracking (won’t roll smoothly), it’s too cold. Knead it in your hands just a bit to warm it up enough to make it roll out nicely into an approximately 8″ circle. The circle doesn’t have to be perfect but just allows things to be a little more uniform and easy to figure out. Don’t let the dough get warm, but allow it to get to that perfect temperature that’s easy to work with).
Pic 5 & 6. Cut the dough into twelve triangular-shaped pieces (cut it as you would a pizza to get 12 slices). Apply 1/4 of the jelly all over the top, then 1/4 of the filling.
Roll up the rugelach by starting with the wide edge and roll toward the tip. It will make a nice little crescent shape. Put each of these onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. To help keep these from ‘unraveling’ on the sheet, press the tip of the dough ever so slightly in, and make sure that the bottom of the tip (the tippy-tip!) is flat on the baking sheet.
This is important: if you feel as though the dough is no longer a nice cool temperature, put the baking sheet in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. This will minimize the cookie spreading when it’s cooked. If you’ve worked quickly, this step can be bypassed easily.
Whisk the egg and milk to make the egg wash, and brush over each rugelach.
Bake for 15-22 minutes (check at 15, mine were usually perfect at 18).
Do you like chocolate? Consider dipping them in chocolate. Or drizzle with chocolate… You can also make a chocolate filling by taking 8 oz chocolate chips (make them into little bits by whirring them in the Cuisinart) and add 1/4 cup white sugar and use that instead of anything else. That’s Av’s favorite.
These turned out so great, and Ilse, who was at the exhibit opening, said they disappeared in no time! I hope if you get a chance, you enjoy them too:
I’ve got to get back to those pies – I hope you and your family have the best Thanksgiving ever!