One of our recent guests, Alice, asked for this recipe. I’m glad that she liked it. It’s one of my favorites.
I think that rugalach are one of high points of Eastern European Jewish cuisine (along with Challah and Blintzes). The less said about my grandmother’s cooking in general, the better. Rugalach are little jam and nut filled pastries with the dough made with both butter and cream cheese. The great thing about rugalach is that they can be anything that you want. You could use almond pastry filling instead of fruit preserves. You could use anything spreadable and anything sprinkle-able. (Think hazelnut butter and bittersweet chocolate for Nutella-like rugalach)
We have a friend in New York who makes what she calls Shiksa Rugalach (she’s Irish). They are made by leaving out the sugar in the dough and filling them with ham and sliced brie. Delicious, but definitely not Jewish.
Water and Vanilla extract.
Mix the flour and sugar and salt together in a bowl. Chip the sticks of butter into the flour mixture. Flake the cream cheese into the flour with your fingertips, squeezing the flour into the cream cheese to make flakes. Either cut the mixture together or rub it into flakes with your fingertips. Toss a little bit of cold water mixed with Vanilla extract onto the flour and butter mixture and bring it together with your hands or a rubber spatula to make a dough. Wrap the dough in [plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour. To use the dough, cut the dough into at least four pieces and push the dough out into a long narrow rectangle on your counter or pastry board.
1 cup of preserves
1 cup of golden raisins
1 cup of nuts
brown sugar optional
1 beaten egg for glazing
sugar or brown sugar for sprinkling.
Spread preserves, raisins, and nuts on the narrow rectangle of dough. Using a pastry blade or spatula to help you, roll the rectangle away from you, starting on the long side nearest you. You should end up with a spiral rolled log about a foot long. Use your pastry blade or a big knife to cut the log into little pastries, transferring each one onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Brush each one with beaten egg and sprinkle with brown or white sugar. Bake in a preheated 350 F. oven for about 45 minutes. Check often after 30 minutes to make sure that they don’t burn.
Rugalach can be made with any preserves, or with cinnamon sugar, or with brown sugar and an egg, beaten together. You could use dried cranberries, or minced dried apricots, or dark raisins, or currants, or any other dried fruit that you like. You can leave out nuts, or use pignoli