Sunday, December 27, 2009

Cinnamon Walnut Rugelach


Have you ever worked with cream cheese dough? If not, count yourself lucky, and if yes, you will understand when I say that cream cheese dough is a huge pain to work with and should only be attempted when you're home alone (so at least no one can hear you swearing like a sailor and throwing floured utensils at the wall).


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.


♥peachkins♥ said...

Happy Holidays!

cedar chest said...

I am planning to make some of this to give as presents in our New Year's party. I hope they will all like this. Thanks.

Heather said...

Great job! I just love rugelach - pity I can't get a nice little gift package from your kitchen. (I've worked with dough with sour cream in - it was very tricky indeed.)

megan said...

you have completely convinced me that this is something I need to try. I'm sure the dough will frustrate me, but as long as the end product is worth it I'll be happy. Thanks for the recipe!

Rambling Tart said...

You brave girl! Sounds frustrating beyond belief and absolutely worth it :-)

El said...

Cream cheese dough is a headache but your results seem like it's worth the frustration. These look marvelous! I love the packaging too - beautiful! Happy New Year to you!

Claire said...

I just came across your blog and wow, those look delicious! I'm tempted to try and make them....although I should probably get more flour before I do!

veron said...

They look fantastic and your packaging is adorable! Happy new year!

brandin + kari said...

beyond yum. beyond. happy new year.

Jane said...

Hi Irene,
I'm glad you didn't decide to pitch the dough in the trash and call it quits, because your rugelach look quite divine. I made rugelach before Christmas, too, and the dough is kind of temperamental.
Hope you had a great holiday!

:) Jane

The Caked Crusader said...

OK, I'm drooling now - the cinnamon and nuts are just too inviting!

Caroline said...

That looks delicious.

I also love how you wrapped it. Where did you get those boxes?

Happy new year :)

Irene said...

Thanks! I got the boxes at Nashville Wraps - they are the kraft 1 lb boxes.

Ingrid_3Bs said...

I bet those were melt in your mouth good.

Katie said...

Ha, I totally feel your pain. My mom and I make rugelach every year, and it's an epic struggle EVERY TIME...but so, so worth it.

Erica said...

I love your gift box design and recipe. Cannot wait to try! I am thinking of handmade gifts for my coworkers this year and wonder where you purchased/printed the labels? Thanks, Erica

Anonymous said...

Just reading through your wonderful recipes! I have made rugelach the last several years for the holidays. My recipe calls for rolling the floured dough between two sheets of wax paper. It is a little sticky, but works really well. Thanks so much for sharing all these wonderful foods!