A rugelach recipe for the Jewish crescent-shaped pastry cookie that's completely customizable.
If you imagine a croissant in cookie form, you have yourself rugelach. These small Eastern European cookies originated from the Jewish communities of Poland. Today they’re found worldwide yet remain especially popular in Israel, especially the old-fashioned variety filled with chocolate.
Ok, so maybe they aren’t much like croissants aside from their crescent appearance. But, to be fair, they aren’t entirely like a cookie, either. I’d say they lean more into the world of pastry.
a quicker rugelach recipe
The quicker approach in the recipe I’m sharing is made with a pastry dough that contains equal parts of butter and cream cheese. It creates a tender cookie crust with a hint of tanginess that I find appealing. Unlike most cookies, they’re not painfully sweet, and during a season built on sugarplums and candy canes, I appreciate that, too.
That old fashioned approach involves a yeasted dough and a consequent rising process. That version is dairy-free, made sense for those following kosher guidelines, such as the folks who created the cookie. Although dairy is more commonly eaten at Hanukkah. I think for most home bakers, myself included, a cookie that needs a rising period is a tough sell. The cream cheese won me over anyway.
let the cookie dough rest
That said, when making these cookies, you need to allow the dough to firm up in the fridge for at least an hour. It makes this a longer process than a typical cookie. But that’s actually a good reason to prepare the dough a day or two in advance so that when you’re ready to bake, you can focus on filling and forming the cookies.
Now, when it comes to filling rugelach, you have options. Fillings can include cinnamon, sugar, nuts, dried fruit, chocolate, and jam. You can use a combination of these ingredients or pick what you like. Cinnamon and nuts are almost always involved.
make them your own
There is room to customize your rugelach cookies completely because you can use the kind of nuts, fruit, and jam you prefer. Although I say pecans in the recipe, walnuts and almonds sound good, too. Dried currants are an excellent choice, yet chopped raisins would be fine as well. Or how about apricots? Maybe figs? Whatever you use, make sure to keep the pieces small. You can chop things up in a food processor to make it easier. Aim for a total of two cups of solid fillings, plus jam.
I was excited to open up a couple of jars of my homemade jams to fill the cookies, especially jams with fruits we picked at the height of summer. A ginger peach jam went in half and a mixed berry in the others. I like chocolate, so I added dark chocolate chips to some. My wife, as crazy as it sounds, doesn’t appreciate chocolate. So others had dried currants instead. Try to go easy when spreading the fillings out on the dough. Fill them too much, like me, and things will ooze out as they bake.
The only difficulty you’ll have with these rugelach cookies is eating just one or two. Luckily, it makes a big batch.
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