Delicious to eat and fun to make, rugelach (pronounced rug-a-lah) are miniature crescent-rolled pastries posing as cookies. They’re made by rolling a triangle of dough around a sweet filling of fruit, nuts, chocolate or pretty much anything your heart desires. If you’ve never had them or made them from scratch, definitely roll up your sleeves and give this classic walnut-raisin version a try. They’re easier than they look and vastly better than store-bought. I’ll be honest: they do take some time to make as the dough needs to be refrigerated for a few hours and rolled out, but I promise you it’s worth it. Fresh out of the oven, they’re buttery, crisp and flaky, with a sweet cinnamon scent that will tempt you to eat the entire batch.
Since rugelach are hands-on, they are wonderful to make with kids. Mine love rolling out the dough (which, thankfully, is very forgiving!), creating their own fillings (scroll down to the recipe for chocolate chip and Nutella variations) and then rolling the cookies into little twists.
Begin by making the dough. Combine the flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade.
Pulse a few times to mix.
Add the cubed butter, cream cheese and egg yolk. The cream cheese is what makes the dough pliable, easy to work with, and reliably tender. The egg yolk adds a little extra richness and helps the dough turn golden in the oven.
Pulse until the mixture forms large curd-like pieces. Be careful not to over-mix; all those little chunks of fat will steam while the rugelach bake, making the dough tender and flaky.
Dump the crumbly dough onto a work surface. It will look like a mess but don’t worry, it will come together.
Knead the dough just until it comes together and shape it into a square or rectangle.
Divide the dough into 4 equal portions.
Flatten each portion into 1-inch thick disks, then wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
Wipe out the food processor and make the filling by combining the brown sugar, cinnamon, raisins and walnuts in the bowl.
Process until the nuts and raisins are finely chopped, then transfer the filling to a bowl and set aside until the dough is ready to roll.
Once the dough has chilled, remove it from the refrigerator and place it on a lightly floured work surface. Dust the top of the dough with flour as well so the rolling pin doesn’t stick.
Roll each disc into a rough 10-11″ circle (it should be just under 1/8″ thick). Turn the dough and dust with more flour as necessary so it doesn’t stick. Don’t worry if the edges are a little cracked or rough.
Sprinkle 1/2 cup of the filling evenly over the dough and press down with your hands to anchor it.
Using a pizza cutter or sharp knife, slice the dough into 12 wedges, just like you would cut a pizza or pie.
Roll each wedge up, beginning with the wide end and ending with the narrow end.
Place the rolls point-side down, about an inch apart, on parchment lined baking sheets.
Bake for 25-30 minutes, until lightly golden.
Transfer the rugelach to a rack to cool completely. They are best served warm out of the oven, but keep well for several days stored in an airtight container. Enjoy!
For the Dough
- 2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled-off with back edge of knife, plus more for rolling dough
- Heaping 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 3/4-inch chunks
- 8 oz (1 package) cold cream cheese, cut into 1-inch chunks
- 1 egg yolk
For the Filling
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 cup walnuts
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 4 teaspoons cinnamon
- Place the flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Pulse a few times to combine.
- Add the chunks of butter and cream cheese, as well as the egg yolk. Pulse until the dough is moistened and crumbly with curd-like pieces about the size of peas. Dump the dough out onto a work surface. Knead just until it comes together and shape into a square or rectangle. Divide the dough into 4 equal portions and flatten into 1-inch thick discs. Wrap each disc in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
- Wipe out the food processor. To make the filling, place the brown sugar, granulated sugar, walnuts, raisins and cinnamon in the bowl of the food processor and pulse until the walnuts and raisins are finely chopped. Transfer to a bowl and set aside until the dough is ready.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Remove one disc of dough from the refrigerator, unwrap it and place it on a lightly floured work surface. (If necessary, let it sit at room temperature for a few minutes until pliable enough to roll, but not too soft.) Dust the top of the dough lightly with flour, then use a rolling pin to roll it into a 10-11" circle, or just under an 1/8" thick. Sprinkle more flour and turn as necessary so the dough doesn't stick. Spread 1/2 cup of the filling over the dough and lightly press it into the dough with your hands.
- Using a pizza cutter or very sharp knife, cut the dough into twelve equal wedges (just like you would cut a pizza). Roll each wedge up, beginning with the wide end and ending with the point. Place the rolls point-side down, about an inch apart, on the prepared baking sheets. Repeat with the remaining dough. You should have 24 rugelach on each baking sheet.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the tops are lightly golden and the bottoms are golden and crisp (at first glance, it might look like the bottoms are burnt, but that's just the dark filling oozing out). Transfer the rugelach to a rack to cool.
- Delicious Ideas for Chocolate Fillings:
- Chocolate Chips: Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of light brown sugar and 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips over each portion of dough (you'll need 1/2 cup brown sugar and 1 cup mini chocolate chips total). Be sure to press the chocolate chips firmly into the dough before rolling the cookies.
- Nutella: Warm 1 cup of Nutella in the microwave until it is just spreadable (not too hot!) and smear 1/4 cup evenly over each portion of dough. It's a little messier to roll the cookies when the dough is covered with chocolate spread, so pull each triangle wedge away from the circle before rolling.
- Serving size: 2 cookies
- Calories: 181
- Fat: 12g
- Saturated fat: 7g
- Carbohydrates: 17g
- Sugar: 8g
- Fiber: 1g
- Protein: 2g
- Sodium: 58mg
- Cholesterol: 38mg
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