Raspberry Rugelach

These crescent shaped pastries are one of my favourite holiday treats. The dough comes together beautifully, they’re fun to make and absolutely addictive. With a ratio of one part butter, one part cream cheese, it’s no wonder Rugelach are habit-forming.

The trick to working with buttery dough is to keep it well chilled. Once it comes comes together (super-easy in an electric mixer), it’s rolled into a flattened circle and refrigerated. Many recipes suggest chilling the dough before shaping it, but I find this technique much more manageable.

I’ve filled these Rugelach with raspberry preserves but poppy seed paste, chocolate, dried fruit or raspberry preserves are delicious fillings too. Rugelach will keep up to four days in an air-tight container but in our home, they don’t last that long.

Recipe adapted from The Professional Pastry Chef by Bo Freiberg

Makes 36 cookies

1 package (250 g) cream cheese, softened
1 cup (250 ml) unsalted butter, softened
zest from 1 lemon
2 Tbsp (25 ml) granulated sugar
1/2 tsp (2 ml) salt
1 tsp vanilla (5 ml)
2 egg yolks
2 1/4 cups (550 ml) all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling the dough

1 cup (250 ml) pecans or walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup (125 ml) dried cherries, cranberries or raisins
2 Tbsp (25 ml) granulated sugar
2 Tbsp (25 ml) packed brown sugar
1 tsp (5 ml) cinnamon
3/4 cup (175 ml) raspberry preserves

1 egg, lightly beaten
2 Tbsp (25 ml) granulated or coarse sugar
2 Tbsp (25 ml) powdered sugar, optional

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

Cutting the dough into a perfect circle

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. Use a saucepan lid or plate as a template to cut the dough in a perfect circle.  If the dough is too sticky to work with, place it in the fridge to firm it before trying again. Cover and refrigerate until firm, at least two hours or up to 24. Repeat with the remaining dough.

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.

Rolling the filling in the pastry.

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

Cut the dough into 12 pie-shaped wedges.  If the dough is too warm to cut, place it in the fridge to firm. 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 350 F oven for  20 – 25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack and dust with icing sugar, if desired.

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