After a bit of research, I discovered that most rugelach recipes are pretty much the same: a cream cheese (or, in some cases, a sour cream) dough, and a tasty filling. I turned, yet again, to Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa, for her rugelach recipe because her instructions allowed me to make small batches at a time, for personal consumption and gift-giving.
I must say, these little gems were a hit. Master Chow and I couldn't stop popping them into our mouths. Some of the other recipes that I found excluded the jam to prevent "oozing," but I love that, so I left it in. The pastry was flavorful and rich, but complemented rather than competed with the filling.
I have enough dough in the freezer for two more batches, and I'm trying to drum up an excuse to bake them, in between all my other baking projects. Isn't there a national rugelach day that I can celebrate?
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2-pound (two sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar, plus 9 tablespoons
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3/4 cup raisins, chopped
1 cup walnuts, finely chopped
1/2 cup of your favorite preserves, pureed in a food processor ( I used a peach-apricot preserve)
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon milk, for egg wash
If your butter and cream cheese are not at room temperature, don't even attempt this - they will not combine properly to form the pastry. If they are, you can make this either in your food processor or stand mixer. For the mixer: Cream the cheese and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until light. Add 1/4 cup granulated sugar, the salt, and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour and mix until just combined. For the food processor: Pulse the cream cheese and butter until light. Add the 1/4 cup granulated sugar, the salt, and vanilla, and pulse a few times . Add the flour and pulse until just combined.
Dump the dough out onto a well-floured board and roll it into a ball. Cut the ball in quarters, flatten them, wrap each piece in plastic, and refrigerate for 1 hour. At this point, you can also freeze the dough for future use.
To make the filling, combine 6 tablespoons of granulated sugar, the brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, the raisins, and walnuts.
On a well-floured board, roll each ball of dough into a 9-inch circle. For each dough ball: Leave a one inch to two inch circle bare in the middle of the dough, and spread the rest of the dough with 2 tablespoons apricot preserves and sprinkle with the 1/2 cup of the filling. The reason for that bare spot in the middle is because when you roll up the rugelach, the filling will ooze toward the middle, and you don't really need to put anything in there. You can always set the lid from a bottle in the middle of your dough and work around that, using the lid as a guide.
Press the filling lightly into the dough. Cut the circle into 12 equal wedges—cutting the whole circle in quarters, then each quarter into thirds. You can also use a pastry cutter to do this, which will give the pastries a decorative border (see photos above).
Starting with the wide edge, roll up each wedge. Place the cookies, points tucked under, on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Chill for 30 minutes, or put in the freezer for about 10-12 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Brush each cookie with the egg wash. Combine 3 tablespoons granulated sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon and sprinkle on the cookies. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove to a wire rack and let cool. Devour.