One of my favorite bites in the city are the dates at Dune, an Eastern Mediterranean restaurant with locations in Atwater Village and downtown. They are marinated in rosewater, drizzled with grassy olive oil and sprinkled with large flakes of sea salt — and the inspiration for these vibrant pink rugelach. (If you love rosewater as much as I do, these cookies are for you.)
Instead of finely chopping dates for the inside of the cookie — a job that gets exponentially stickier as you go — I marinate pitted quartered dates in rosewater and olive oil then bake them wrapped in a classic rugelach dough. Afterward they get a dip in pink rosewater glaze and a sprinkle of pink sugar and flaky salt.
In a small bowl, combine the dates and rosewater and toss constantly until the dates absorb almost all of the rosewater. Add the olive oil and toss to combine. Let the dates marinate, stirring every few minutes, while you make the dough, at least 10 minutes.
In a large bowl, combine the cream cheese, butter, sugar, vanilla and salt and beat on medium speed of a mixer until creamy, about 2 minutes (see Baker’s note). Add the flour and beat on low speed until just combined. Transfer the dough to a work surface and form into a ball. Cut the dough ball into quarters and shape each into a disk. Set three disks aside at room temperature and cover with plastic wrap to keep from drying out.
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
Transfer one dough disk to a lightly floured work surface and roll into an 8-inch circle. Using an offset spatula, spread 2 tablespoons jam over the surface and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts. Use a knife or pizza cutter to cut the round into 12 wedges. Place 1 marinated date quarter at the wide end of each wedge and roll up to form crescent rolls.
Arrange the rolls, tip sides down, 1 inch apart on one of the prepared baking sheets. Repeat making cookies with the remaining 3 dough disks, jam, walnuts and dates and arrange them all on the prepared baking sheets. Brush each cookie lightly with the egg wash.
Bake, rotating the baking sheets from front to back and top to bottom halfway through, until golden brown, 22 to 24 minutes. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 1 minute before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
Make the glaze: In a small shallow bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, rosewater and 1 tablespoon water to form a thick, pourable glaze; add more water to thin, if necessary. Add the pink food coloring and stir until evenly colored.
Lay the top two-thirds of each rugelach in the glaze, letting the excess drip off, then transfer to a clean sheet of parchment. Sprinkle the glaze with both nonpareils and sparkling sugar and a pinch of flaky salt while it is still wet. Let stand until the glaze sets, at least 15 minutes.
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