I gotta be honest with you, this dough almost broke me. It was so soft, so sticky (even after proper chilling), so unwilling to do what I wanted it to do, that I almost gave up. My kitchen looked like a bag of flour exploded all over it and soft, sticky bits of dough snuck into every little crevice. I was so frustrated, I almost tossed dough, flour and all into the trash. Hoo boy, am I glad that I didn't!
Because, as it turns out, the best things in life are worth the effort, and these little rugelach definitely fall into that category. It's something of an epiphany when you first bite into this pastry that puffs up and is soft and delicate and crunchy at the same time, the sweetness of the filling perfectly balancing the tang of the cream cheese in the dough. It's addictive. If you can eat less than five, I take my hat off to you, because no one with whom I shared these could hold themselves back.
If you decide to make these, arm yourself with a lot of patience, a lot of flour and a good bench scraper. Flour the heck out of your surface, flour the heck out of your dough and flour the heck out of your rolling pin. Keep the dough cold and the cursing to a minimum. And trust me, it's all going to be worth it. This - this is what bliss tastes like with a cup of coffee.
Walnut and Cinnamon Rugelach
slightly adapted from Desserts from Chanterelle
(I added some chocolate to these, and though it tasted fantastic, the chocolate melted out of the filling and created a dark brown crust on the bottom of the cookies, making them look like they burned a little. In other words, I do not recommend this addition.)
8 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup flour, plus more for rolling dough
1/4 tsp salt
1 teaspoon sugar (I increased to 2 tablespoons)
1 cup (4 ounces) finely chopped walnuts
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup (2 ounces) currants (I omitted)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/8-1/4 cup turbinado sugar, for topping
1 egg, for egg wash
Yields 32-36 cookies
Make the dough - using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and cream cheese on medium speed until light and fluffy (5-8 min). Decrease speed to slow and add the dry ingredients, beating until thoroughly combined. Rev up the mixer to medium for 15 seconds. Divide the dough in half and wrap each half in plastic, pressing to shape it into a disc about 1 inch thick and refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.
Make the filling - in a bowl, toss the sugar, chopped walnuts, currants if using and 1/4 cup of sugar.
Roll the dough - a.k.a. the tricky part:
Flour the heck out of your rolling surface and your rolling pin. Working with one batch of dough at a time (leave the second in the refrigerator while rolling the first), roll the dough into a 6 1/2 x 16 inch rectangle. Roll quickly, lifting the dough with a bench scraper as you are rolling and re-flouring underneath. Use a bench scraper or a pizza cutter to trim the dough into the desired dimensions.
Brush off excess flour and then brush the dough with some egg wash and spread half the walnut-cinnamon filling on top, leaving a 1-inch wide strip of dough clean on the long side (the 16" side). Starting with the edge opposite the clean one (the other 16" side), tightly roll the dough into one 16" long roll. When you reach the strip of dough without topping, apply a little pressure to seal the seam and roll it so the seam is on the bottom.
At this point, I would recommend to cut the dough in half (yielding two 8" rolls), wrap each roll in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 min-1hr. Repeat with the other half of the dough. [The logs can be stored in the refrigerator for 24 hrs or in the freezer for 1 week].
Baking - preheat the oven to 350F. Glaze each log with the remaining egg wash and sprinkle the top generously with turbinado sugar. Slice into 1 inch cross-sections and place on a cookie sheet, 1 inch apart. Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until golden on top. Rotate the cookie sheet half-ways through the baking time to ensure even baking.
Continued after the jump...