My gang of food bloggers was planning a cookie (and all manner of holiday treats) swap. Bring in lots of cookies, donate to a good cause, take home lots of other cookies. Sounds good.
I’d already come up with an idea for Cranberry Pistachio Blondies (check out a previous post) and I wanted to contribute another something special. What to do, what to do? Rugelach! Yes! And with a special cream cheese dough that is just too sinful to eat and to tempt loved ones with more often than once a year. I know of several versions but for this batch, I turned to Ina Garten who can be trusted in these matters. Though it’s not exactly a family recipe, it is to me because Ina is, in my mind, kind of like family.
The dough is a butter-cream cheese dough. The only way I can hold my head up is to use low-fat cream cheese. Neufchatel is a cream cheese that has a third less fat. That’s not a brand name; it’s a type of cream cheese. It’s excellent for baking and you won’t miss that extra 33 1/3% fat. Not one iota.
Rationalization #7,018: (spoken to self) Yes, that’s a lot of butter but it makes 4 dozen! And I’m only eating …. fmfum (inaudible mumble).
Pulse the fruit preserves a bit in the food processor to make them more spreadable. Some of the rugelach will be apricot; others will be sour cherry.
I like my bench knife. Way more fun than a bench press.
Looks like we’re making dessert pizza!
But we’re not.
Almost-crescent moons… too much of a hurry to get them in the oven…
thanks to Ina Garten’s, Barefoot Contessa Parties! (with a little tweaking)
Ingredients:8 oz. package low-fat cream cheese, at room temperature – I like to use Neufchatel cream cheese 8 oz. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature 1/4 c. sugar, plus 6 T. more sugar 1/4 t. kosher salt 2 t. pure vanilla 2 c. flour 1/4 c. light brown sugar 1 1/2 t. ground cinnamon 3/4 c. raisins 1 c. walnuts, finely chopped 1/2 c. apricot (or sour cherry or fig) preserves, pureed in mini food processor 1 egg beaten with 1 T. milk, for egg wash
Cream the cheese and butter, using a stand mixer, until light and fluffy.
Add 1/4 cup sugar, salt and vanilla.
With the mixer set on low speed, add flour and incorporate until just combined.
Plop the dough out onto a well-floured board or surface and roll into a ball.
Cut ball into quarters, wrap each piece in plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour.
To make the filling, combine 4 T. sugar, the brown sugar, 1/2 t. cinnamon, the raisins and walnuts.
On a well-floured board, roll each ball of dough into a 9-inch circle. Do this one at a time, leaving the others in the fridge until using them. You can use your hands to pat the dough out, if you prefer.
Spread the dough with 2 tablespoons of fruit preserves and sprinkle with 1/2-cup of filling.
Cut the circle into 12 equal wedges – by cutting the whole circle into quarters, then each quarter into thirds.
Starting with the wide edge, roll up each wedge and gently shape into a crescent moon.
Place rugelach, points tucked under, onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Chill for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350°.
Brush each rugele with the egg wash.
Combine 2 T. sugar and a scant teaspoon cinnamon and sprinkle over the tops.
Bake for 15-20 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove to a wire rack and let cool.
Makes 4 dozen.
NOTE: Rugelach freeze very well. Freeze a batch that are unbaked. Defrost completely before baking as described above.