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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Iannelli-Rubin

Michy's Rugelach

Rugelach, like an eventful and unpredictable story, are full of little twists. In fact, the term “rugelach” is a Yiddish word that literally means “little twists.” I have been making these rustic Rugelach cookies for over a decade. Inspired to bring a cultural holiday tradition to my husband's Eastern European and Jewish roots, my recipe and method uses a modern roll and slice, creating golden morsels of goodness.

Rugelach history dates back to Hungarian kifli, Austrian kipfel and Polish rogal. Known as the "Jewish croissant" rugelach can sometimes take on a crescent-shape. The dough is made with cream-cheese, butter and flour that is filled with a variety of ingredients including raisins, nuts and jams. According to "Jewish Cooking From Around the World" by Josephine Levy Bacon, rugelach originated in Poland.


In 2009, I started an annual holiday tradition and began hosting a cookie exchange rooted in meeting new people in my community, while sharing holiday traditions. It was typically on the first Sunday of December. It was a unique cookie exchange, but I won't get into those details here. Kicking off the holidays with friends & family with the annual exchange gave me the opportunity to make friends in the community that is my home. Fast forward to 2020, and this year, my annual event, was not possible. Faced with this challenge, I really wanted to stay connected, and with a little creativity and organization, I hosted a virual Cookies & Coffee for a Cause to bake with our local community, friends and family alike.



My son Luca offered to help and share in the fun. He assemble the apricot rugelach while I assembled the raspberry.



The event was intimate, the baking a success and I was able to raise money and awareness in the Bake Against Poverty Movement for the holidays. My heart is smiling. It was what it's all about and brought so much joy.


 

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened

  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened

  • 1/2 cup plus 4 teaspoons sugar

  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

  • 1 cup apricot preserves or raspberry jam

  • 1 cup loosely packed golden raisins, chopped

  • 1 1/4 cups walnuts (1/4 lb), finely chopped

  • Milk for brushing cookies

(Special equipment: parchment paper; a small offset spatula; stand mixer)

Directions

  1. Whisk together flour and salt in a bowl. Set aside.

  2. Beat together butter and cream cheese in a large bowl with an electric mixer until combined well.

  3. Add flour mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until a soft dough forms.

  4. Gather dough into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap, then flatten (in wrap) into a roughly 7- by 5-inch rectangle. Chill until firm, 8 to 24 hours.

After dough has chilled:

  1. Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Line bottom of a 1- to 1 1/2-inch-deep large shallow baking pan with parchment paper.

  2. Cut dough into 4 pieces.

  3. Chill 3 pieces, wrapped in plastic wrap, and roll out remaining piece into a 12- by 8-inch rectangle on a well-floured surface with a floured rolling pin.

  4. Transfer dough to a sheet of parchment, and then transfer to a tray and chill while rolling out remaining dough in same manner, transferring each to another sheet of parchment and stacking on tray.

Preparing Cookies

  1. Whisk 1/2 cup sugar with cinnamon.

  2. Arrange 1 dough rectangle on work surface with a long side nearest you.

  3. Spread 1/4 cup preserves evenly over dough with offset spatula.

  4. Sprinkle dough with 1/4 cup raisins

  5. Sprinkle dough with a rounded 1/4 cup walnuts

  6. Sprinkle dough with 2 tablespoons cinnamon sugar.

  7. Using parchment as an aid, roll up dough tightly into a log. Place, seam side down, in lined baking pan, then pinch ends closed and tuck underneath. (Make 3 more logs in same manner and arrange 1 inch apart in pan.)

  8. Brush logs with milk and sprinkle each with 1 teaspoon of remaining granulated sugar.

  9. With a sharp large knife, make 3/4-inch-deep cuts crosswise in dough (not all the way through) at 1-inch intervals. (If dough is too soft to cut, chill until firmer, 20 to 30 minutes.)

Bake until golden, 45 to 50 minutes. Cool to warm in pan on a rack, about 30 minutes, then transfer logs to a cutting board and slice cookies all the way through.

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