December 31, 2009

Good Rugelach, Bad Pictures...

I'm from New York so I'm pretty familiar with rugelach.  Here in St. Louis, however, people seem to be a bit confused about this particular confection.  I don't think I've come across rugelach once since I've lived here-- I also haven't come across many delis, but that's a whole other (sad, sad) story.

I made these for my roommate's work Christmas party to introduce some native St. Louisans to delicious buttery, cream cheesey rugelach.  And yes, I said my roommate's work Christmas party-- any excuse to bake, right?

They turned out perfectly (as in very reminiscent of the ones I used to get at bakeries in New York) and definitely weren't as fussy as all the blogs said they'd be-- trust me, I'm not a patient person.  They were actually relatively painless.  I even rolled out the dough with my trusty water bottle rolling pin (I think it's about time to invest in a real one).

The filling is endlessly adaptable but because I'm a chocolate kind of girl, I had to throw some in.

makes 32 small cookies
From Dorie Greenspan via NPR

4 ounces cold cream cheese, cut into 4 pieces
1 stick (8 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt

1 large egg (lots of the egg goes to waste...)
1 teaspoon water
2 tablespoons sugar in the raw

1/3 cup blackberry jam
4 oz dark chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup chopped pecans
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Let the cream cheese and butter rest on the counter for 10 minutes – you want them to be slightly softened but still cool. Put the flour and salt in a food processor, scatter over the chunks of cream cheese and butter and pulse the machine 6 to 10 times. Then process, scraping down the sides of the bowl often, just until the dough forms large curds-- don’t work it so long that it forms a ball on the blade.

Turn the dough out, gather it into a ball and divide it in half. Shape each half into a disk, wrap the disks in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or up to 1 day. (Wrapped airtight, the dough can be frozen for up to 2 months.)

Heat the jam in a saucepan over low heat, or do this in a microwave, until it liquefies. Mix the sugar and cinnamon together in a separate bowl.  Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.

Pull one packet of dough from the refrigerator. If it is too firm to roll easily, either leave it on the counter for about 10 minutes.  On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into an 11- to 12-inch circle. Spoon (or brush) a thin gloss of jam over the dough, and sprinkle over half of the cinnamon sugar. Scatter over half of the nuts and half of the chopped chocolate. Cover the filling with a piece of wax paper and gently press the filling into the dough, then remove the paper and save it for the next batch.

Using a pizza wheel or a sharp knife, cut the dough into 16 wedges, or triangles. (The easiest way to do this is to cut the dough into quarters, then to cut each quarter into 4 triangles.) Starting at the base of each triangle, roll the dough up so that each cookie becomes a little crescent. Arrange the roll-ups on one baking sheet, making sure the points are tucked under the cookies, and refrigerate. Repeat with the second packet of dough, and refrigerate the cookies for at least 30 minutes before baking. (The cookies can be covered and refrigerated overnight or frozen for up to 2 months; don’t defrost before baking, just add a couple of minutes to the baking time.)

Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Stir the egg and water together, and brush a bit of this glaze over each rugelach. Sprinkle the cookies with the sugar.  Bake the cookies for 20 to 25 minutes, rotating the sheets from top to bottom and front to back at the midway point, until they are puffed and golden. Transfer the cookies to racks to cool to just warm or to room temperature.

The cookies can be kept covered at room temperature for up to 3 days or wrapped airtight and frozen for up to 2 months.

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