I was looking through my Christmas posts from previous years and was happy to note that I’ve managed to make at least one recipe each holiday season that wowed in some way. In the year 2011, I made these delicious and pretty Stained Glass Cookies that I need to repeat some time soon. Then 2012 had two memorable recipes for me: my first ever Panettone and the fabulous Chocolate Peppermint Cupcakes with my first ever Swiss Meringue Buttercream. In 2013, it was a stunner of a Buche de Noel cake that was much easier than I expected. And last year, it was the sky-high and very clever Christmas Tree Cupcakes.
I get a kick out of planning my holiday baking because I feel so energized around this season to make something extra special. Initially I was thinking about attempting a gingerbread house, but then I became so swamped with work that I had to scrap that idea for next year. I wanted to go with something easier but still interesting to me at the same time. Suddenly I remembered that there was that flaky treat that I’ve always been curious about, and with Christmas coming round it simply felt appropriate.
The rugelach (read as roo-ge-lahkh) is a Jewish pastry that’s made with either a sour cream or cream cheese dough. It’s typically rolled into a crescent shape with some sort of filling inside, and also traditionally served during Hannukah. Since I’m not Jewish I though I’d serve it for Christmas instead. It’s definitely a good change from the usual Christmas cookies I make every year, and considering I’ve never made anything like this, I was so excited I decided to film myself!
Funny story about this recipe video: I was supposed to do my usual voiceover style for this, but then I couldn’t pronounce the word ‘rugelach‘ quite right… So at the risk of butchering a perfectly good name, I just decided to just use text on the video, which you shall see when you press that play button down there.
I know I’ve said this a gazillion times before, but I really ought to make more recipe videos. I should turn that into my mission next year. I tried out a new location in my house for this one because I wanted a naturally brighter video, and I thought it doesn’t look too bad at all! What do you guys think?
Full instructions for this yummy flaky Cherry, Chocolate, Almond Rugelach recipe after the jump!
You know what I like most about the rugelach? The flaky and rich dough. The abundance of filling makes it even more rich no doubt, so this is not a cookie for the faint-hearted for sure. It’s packed with jam, chocolate, and nuts– all good things in my book; not to mention the dough itself is so flavourful thanks to all that butter and cream cheese. All those elements help to elevate this cookie into an almost indulgent treat, but not quite too indulgent for Christmas!
The way I made the rugelach in the video is definitely not the only way. Honestly I’m not even sure if it’s the right way, but it’s simply how I decided to make it. I was too lazy to take out my food processor and mixer, opting instead to use my trusty pastry cutter. But then I couldn’t find it either– you guys my pastry cutter is missing!!!– so I ended up with the traditional two knives method. It took me nearly forever to form the dough, which in hindsight more than made up for my laziness. I could’ve used up less energy washing my food processor, and I wouldn’t have needed to get my hands dirty. Guess the universe is fair after all! 😛
In any case, I didn’t think about any of that anymore once I reached the part where I was rolling out the dough and adding the filling. I chose cherry jam because I wanted to have a different kind of sweet tang this time around. I’ve used strawberry and raspberry jam way too much already! And then I finished it up with some bittersweet chocolate and toasted chopped up almonds.
It’s a pretty straightforward recipe, methinks. You can switch up the filling to your liking, and even use Nutella or chocolate spread instead of jam. The only thing that I personally would do next time is to use a food processor. Note to self: There’s a reason why that thing was invented!
Cherry, Chocolate, and Almond Rugelach
For the dough
- 8 ounces cream cheese
- 1 cup 2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
- ¾ cup confectioners’ sugar
- ½ teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
For the filling
- ½ to 1 cup cherry jam, divided use
- ¾ cup finely chopped bittersweet chocolate, divided
- ½ cup finely chopped toasted almonds, divided
- Heavy cream
- ¼ cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Make the dough
- 1. This dough is easier to make using a food processor or a stand mixer, but it can also be made by hand using a pastry cutter or two knives. It will just take a lot longer. Combine the cream cheese, butter, and confectioners’ sugar then mix together.
- 2. Add in the lemon zest, then the almond and vanilla extracts. Mix until incorporated.
- 3. Slowly mix in the flour until the dough comes together in a soft ball.
- 4. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate until well chilled and firm, at least 2 hours.
Make the rugelach
- 5. When you are ready to make the cookies, preheat the oven to 350˚F (180˚C). Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- 6. Working with half of the dough at a time, transfer to a floured work surface and flatten into a disc. Use a floured rolling pin to roll the dough out into a thin round about 12 to 13 inches in diameter.
- 7. Spread half of the cherry jam in an even layer over the first portion of dough. Using a pizza cutter, slice the dough into 16 equal triangles. Sprinkle half of the chopped chocolate evenly over the jam, followed by the chopped nuts.
- 8. Working with one triangle at a time, roll up each piece of dough into a crescent shape, starting from the wide end so that the tip is on the outside.
- 9. Place the shaped cookies on the prepared baking sheets, seam side down. Repeat with the remaining disc of dough and the remaining filling.
- 10. Once all the cookies have been shaped and are on the baking sheets, lightly brush the cookies with a bit of heavy cream. Combine the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and whisk together to make cinnamon-sugar. Sprinkle lightly over the cookies.
- 11. Bake the rugelach until golden, about 22 to 24 minutes. Let cool on the baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
And well, I realize I said this is supposed to be for Santa, but I snuck a couple of pieces for myself. I’m not one to say no to anything that has berry jam on it. 😀 I hope you guys are all ready for Christmas, because I sure am!