Cream Cheese Rugelach with Cinnamon and Brown Sugar

  

Ruegelach display

As Hanukkah and Christmas overlap this year, it’s a fine time to share my beloved recipe for rugelach. Before I became Jewish, I had always loved the Christmas cookie baking traditions—from the aromas that filled the house to all the flavors and textures of the different cookies. And all the sampling, of course. Celebrating my first Hanukkah made me yearn for a sweet little bite to bake for the holiday. Hanukkah-themed sugar cookies fell way short, as did a few other strategies. Then I came upon rugelach (the name for which likely comes from the Yiddish word for “royal”). These American-Jewish delicacies that are part cookie and part pastry captured my baking heart, and I’ve made this recipe every year since. It beautifully combines a delicate texture with the comforting flavors of cinnamon, pecans and a kiss of apricot. Rugelach would go well on any cookie tray and a tin full of these makes a wonderful gift.

Cream Cheese Rugelach with Cinnamon and Brown Sugar

Reprinted with permission from “Meatballs and Matzah Balls: Recipes and Reflections from a Jewish and Italian Life” by Marcia Friedman

Ingredients:

  • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
  • ½ pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • ¼ cup plus 6 Tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1½ tsp. vanilla
  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup pecans, finely chopped
  • ½ cup apricot preserves at room temperature
  • 1 egg lightly beaten with 1 Tbsp. milk

 

Topping:

  • 1½ Tbsp. sugar
  • ½ tsp. ground cinnamon

 

Directions:

1. Cream the cheese and butter in a large bowl until smooth and light. Add ¼ cup granulated sugar, salt and vanilla. Stir in the flour until just combined. The dough will be very sticky. Add a little additional flour if needed to make it cohesive.

2. Divide it into four equal pieces and roll each piece into a ball. Place one ball on a large piece of plastic wrap, gently press into a disk shape, and then enclose in the plastic. Repeat with the other three balls. Refrigerate for 1 hour or freeze for 20 minutes.

3. Make the filling by combining 6 Tbsp. of granulated sugar, the brown sugar, ¾ tsp. cinnamon and the pecans. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Rugelach prep

4. Remove one disk from the refrigerator; unwrap and place dough on a floured surface. Gently roll into an approximate 9-inch circle. Spread a generous ½ Tbsp. of the apricot preserves over the dough to about ¼ inch from the edge. Sprinkle evenly with a scant ½ cup of brown-sugar filling and gently press. Cut the circle into 12 wedges. Starting at the wide edge, roll up each triangle. Place the formed pastries seam-side down on the prepared baking sheet. Refrigerate for about 20 minutes or freeze for about 10 minutes. Repeat with remaining dough.

5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

6. Make the topping by combining the 1½ Tbsp. granulated sugar and the ½ tsp. cinnamon.

7. Brush each pastry with the egg and milk mixture, and sprinkle lightly with sugar-cinnamon topping. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, until well browned. Remove from oven, and let rest on the cookie sheet for 2 to 3 minutes before transferring rugelach to a wire rack. Cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

Rugelach bake

Yield: 48 rugelach

Note: Assembled pastries can be frozen and baked at a later time. Defrost partially before placing in oven, and allow extra time for baking.

Burmolikos: Bulgarian Matzah Puffs

  

Burmolikos for Passover

Missing morning carb treats like doughnuts? No need to stress if you are following the culinary traditions for Passover. Burmolikos are light, soft puffs of egg and matzah that are fried in oil (and bear no resemblance to heavy matzah fritters). They are a wonderful treat eaten by Bulgarian Jews during Passover and year-round because they are so delicious! Be sure to roll them with cinnamon and sugar while they’re still warm, or eat them with jam or honey.

Burmolikos (Bulgarian Matzah Puffs)
Makes 10-12 puffs

Ingredients:

  • 2 sheets plain matzah
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • Canola or cottonseed oil
  • ½ cup sugar mixed with ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • Jam or honey (optional)

 

Directions:

Burmolikos in oil1. Break the matzah into large pieces and soak in a bowl of warm water until soft, about 15 minutes.

2. Drain the matzah and squeeze handfuls until almost all of the water is removed. Place in a 2-quart bowl.

3. Add the eggs, egg yolk and salt to the clumps of matzah and combine well with a fork.

4. Heat the oil in a small saucepan or deep fryer to a depth of 2 inches—if you use a 1-quart saucepan you will use only about 1 cup oil and will only be able to make 2 puffs at a time. However, they cook quickly so it is up to you.

5. When the oil is hot, drop the mixture by oval soup spoon or ice cream scoop into the oil and fry on one side until golden, about 1-2 minutes. Turn over puff and fry on the other side until golden—another minute. Drain on crumpled paper towels (you use fewer towels and have more surface area to absorb the oil).

cooked burmolikos

 

Burmolikos in cinnamon

Coat with the sugar/cinnamon mixture. Burmolikos can also be served with jam or honey.

Some “Tina’s Tidbits”

  • This recipe is classically European since there is no sugar in the batter. Before you add some sugar, you might try adding 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract or a pinch of nutmeg to the batter to create a taste similar to a cake doughnut.
  • The puffs don’t need to be fried in a deep fryer. I used a 1-quart saucepan. This allows me to use less oil while still keeping the depth I need to make the Burmolikos initially submerge. I can only make 2 or 3 at a time, but they cook in less than 2 minutes and stay warm for at least 10-15 minutes.
  • Try using an ice cream scoop with a release wire for your batter. This will give you more rounded puffs.
  • This mixture puffs so well because the water in the soaked matzos turns to steam when it cooks in the hot oil.
  • If you use gluten-free matzos, this recipe is then gluten-free and dairy-free!

Burmolikos for Passover

Check out more delicious Passover recipes here!