Introduction

These crescent-shaped old world pastries are one of my favourite holiday treats. Made with a cream cheese dough that comes together beautifully, they’re fun to make and everyone seems to enjoy them.

In this recipe rugelach are filled with raspberry preserves and dried apricots but poppy seed paste, chocolate, marzipan and apricot preserves work too. Rugelach freezes well and keeps for up to four days at room temperature in an air-tight container.

Rugelach

Makes 36 Cookies

Dough

■ 1 package cream cheese, softened
■ 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
■ zest from 1 lemon
■ 2 Tbsp granulated sugar
■ 1/2 tsp salt
■ 1 tsp vanilla
■ 2 egg yolks
■ 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling the dough

Filling

■ 1 egg, lightly beaten
■ 2 Tbsp granulated or coarse sugar
■ 2 Tbsp powdered sugar, optional

Topping

■ 1 cup pecans or walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
■ 1/2 cup dried chopped apricots, cherries, cranberries or raisins
■ 2 Tbsp granulated sugar
■ 2 Tbsp packed brown sugar
■ 1 tsp cinnamon
■ 3/4 cup raspberry preserves

Special Equipment

■ 2 baking sheets lined with parchment or a non-stick baking mat

Dough

In a bowl of a stand-up mixer (fitted with a paddle attachment), or a medium bowl, beat the butter, cream cheese and lemon zest until fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Beat in the sugar, salt, vanilla and egg yolks until well combined.  Gradually add the flour and mix until combined.

Scrape the dough from the bowl, divide into thirds, and shape each portion into a disk. Working with one portion at a time, place the dough on a sheet of parchment lightly dusted with flour. Cover with another sheet of parchment (or plastic wrap) and using a rolling pin, flatten the disk into a 10” diameter circle, about 1/4” thick. I use a saucepan lid or plate as a template to cut the dough in a perfect circle.) Repeat with the remaining dough.

Cover and refrigerate until firm, at least two hours or up to 24.

Filling

In a small bowl, combine the nuts, dried fruit, sugars and cinnamon.In a separate bowl, stir the preserves. If it’s too thick to spread easily, thin with a bit of water until it reaches a spreadable consistency.

The Fun Part

Working with one shaped portion of dough at a time, spread a 1/4 cup of jam onto the circle, leaving a 1/2” border. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of the filling mixture over the jam.

Cut the dough into 12 pie-shaped wedges. Starting from the wide end, roll up each wedge, like a croissant.

Place about 2 inches apart on a prepared baking tray. Brush with the beaten egg and sprinkle with sugar. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling.

Bake in a preheated 375°F oven 20 - 25 minutes or until golden brown, turning the pastries once. Cool on a wire rack and dust with icing sugar, if desired.

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