If you're looking to make the perfect rugelach, former Test Kitchen director Donna Deane came up with an excellent recipe several years ago. And we haven't been able to forget them.
The basic recipe makes the most wonderfully flaky pastry dough, which you can wrap around your choice of fillings, whether chocolate-hazelnut, cherry-almond or apricot.
Total time: 1 hour, 50 minutes plus 2 hours or overnight chilling | Makes 4 dozen cookies
Note: From Times Test Kitchen Director Donna Deane. You can choose two fillings for one recipe of dough.
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, each stick cut into 8 pieces
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, cut into quarters
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups flour
2 tablespoons melted butter
3 tablespoons sugar, plus 1 1/2 teaspoons additional if making chocolate-hazelnut rugelach
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 batches of filling, any combination of chocolate-hazelnut, cherry-almond or apricot (see related recipes)
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon chopped hazelnuts, if making chocolate-hazelnut rugelach (reserved from making filling)
1 tablespoon chopped toasted almonds, if making cherry-almond rugelach (reserved from making filling)
1. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the butter and cream cheese on low speed until blended, about 2 minutes. Mix in the vanilla until incorporated.
2. In a medium bowl, stir together the powdered sugar, salt and flour. With the mixer at low speed, slowly incorporate half of the flour mixture into the butter mixture until blended; repeat with the remaining flour mixture. Mix just until dough forms, about 1 minute.
3. Turn the dough out of the mixing bowl onto a lightly floured surface. Knead once or twice, then divide the dough in half. Shape each part into a half-inch-thick rectangle and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill 2 hours or overnight. While the dough is chilling, make your choice of fillings.
4. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
5. Roll one rectangle of chilled dough out on a lightly floured surface so that it is a one-eighth-inch-thick rectangle. Trim the dough to a 13 1/2 -by-10-inch rectangle, then cut it into thirds crosswise. Brush each with melted butter.
6. In a small bowl, combine 3 tablespoons sugar with the cinnamon. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of the cinnamon-sugar mixture evenly over each rectangle of dough. (For cookies with apricot or cherry filling, reserve the remaining cinnamon-sugar mixture to sprinkle over the top.)
7. Spoon one-third cup filling along the edge of each rectangle closest to you. Roll each rectangle of dough into a log. Place the logs, seam side down, on baking sheets covered with parchment paper.
8. Repeat steps 5 to 7 with the remaining chilled dough. You will have 6 logs, 3 on each baking sheet.
9. In a small bowl, lightly beat the egg yolk with one-half teaspoon water. Brush the top and sides of the logs with the egg yolk mixture. Lightly score the top of each log so that it will be easier to cut into eight equal pieces after it is baked.
10. For cookies with chocolate-hazelnut filling, sprinkle one-half teaspoon sugar over the top of each log, then sprinkle 1 teaspoon chopped hazelnuts (reserved from making the filling) over the top. For cherry-almond-filled cookies, sprinkle the top of each log with about one-fourth teaspoon cinnamon-sugar mixture, then 1 teaspoon chopped toasted almonds (reserved from making the filling). For apricot cookies, sprinkle about one-half teaspoon of the cinnamon-sugar mixture over the top of each log.
11. Bake 30 to 35 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove to a wire rack to cool. When cool, cut each log into 8 pieces with a sharp or serrated knife.
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon blanched hazelnuts
1/3 cup chopped top-quality bittersweet chocolate, such as Valrhona
1/2 cup chopped dried figs
3 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1. Toast the hazelnuts in a 350-degree oven until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Remove the nuts from the oven; cool to room temperature.
2. Chop the hazelnuts. Set aside 1 tablespoon of the chopped hazelnuts to sprinkle on top of the finished rugelach. In a bowl, combine the remaining chopped hazelnuts with the chocolate, figs, brown sugar and cinnamon.
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon slivered almonds
3/4 cup dried cherries, chopped
2 tablespoons dried unsweetened coconut
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons brown sugar, packed
1. Toast the almonds in a 350-degree oven until lightly browned, about 8 minutes. Remove the nuts from the oven and let cool to room temperature. When the almonds have cooled, chop them. Set aside 1 tablespoon for sprinkling on top of the cookies.
2. In a small bowl, combine the remaining chopped almonds, the cherries, coconut, lemon zest and brown sugar.
1/4 cup walnuts
1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped
1/2 cup golden raisins, chopped
1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest
2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
1. Toast the walnuts on a baking sheet in a 350-degree oven 6 to 7 minutes or until lightly browned and fragrant. Let cool, then chop.
2. Combine the chopped walnuts, the apricots, raisins, orange zest and brown sugar.
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