Friday, December 5, 2014

Rugelach with Raspberries and Walnuts

I don't think there's a cookie that I enjoy more than a well-made rugelach. Its only competition would probably be a freshly baked, still warm from the oven chocolate chip cookie, but aside from that, I can't think of a cookie I enjoy more.  They're more than just cookies; they're delectable little pastries filled with all kinds of delicious things.  My favorite rugelach are filled with apricot preserves and pistachios, but rugelach filled with raspberry jam and walnuts are also perfection.  So, when the Baddish Group reached out to me and asked if I wanted to try out Dorie Greenspan's famous rugelach recipe from her newest book, Baking Chez Moi, I couldn't say no. 

The challenge wasn't just to make Dorie's rugelach recipe- I also got the chance to work with Driscoll's raspberries to prepare a delicious filling for my rugelach, a perfect match! I normally use ready-made jams and preserves when making rugelach, so I was excited to try out this new approach.  I first started by preparing the raspberry filling.  I took beautiful ruby-red raspberries and cooked them with a little sugar and freshly squeezed lemon juice. As the fruit cooked down and broke apart, it thickened just slightly.  After cooling and chilling in the fridge, the fruity mixture transformed into a thick spreadable filling. Once the filling was done, it was time to tackle the rugelach dough. 

Dorie Greenspan is undoubtedly the master of rugelach- her recipe is famous, and for good reason.  It's simple to make and results in perfectly flakey cookies.  I've made rugelach many times before, but the first time I ever made Dorie's recipe, I realized that I had been missing out on something delicious.  None of the rugelach recipes I had made previously matched up to Dorie's, and it's now my go-to recipe.  This recipe is different because it combines cold cream cheese, butter, flour and salt in a food processor in order to ensure that the ingredients are handled as little as possible and the cream cheese and butter are evenly coated in flour.  The key to getting the rugelach dough right is to make sure that the dough is only processed a few times- you don't want to overwork the dough.  Once the dough has come together, divide it in half and shape each half into a disc.  I let the discs of dough chill overnight in the fridge, but at least two hours in the fridge will do.

The dough is a breeze to roll out once it's ready.  As long as your work surface and rolling pin are well-floured, you'll have no trouble rolling out the dough. Dorie recommends shaping the dough into a rectangle, but I've always shaped the dough into a circle and sliced it into wedges...some habits just won't change.  Regardless of whether you shape the dough into a circle or rectangle, the raspberry filling is spread on and the walnuts are sprinkled on top.  The dough is sliced into wedges, and then the cookies are shaped.  A triangle of dough is rolled up, starting from the long outside edge and going in towards the point.  I find it easiest if the outside corners are folded in just slightly and then the wedge is rolled up- it's that simple. 

These rugelach were something special.  The pastries were rich and flaky, and the perfect two-bite cookie.  They're small and delicate, but so full of flavor.  I loved the way the cookies turned out with my homemade raspberry filling, because the cookies were barely sweetened, which was perfect for me.  A little dusting of powered sugar finished off the cookies, and they had the perfect level of sweetness, while still allowing a hint of the raspberries natural tartness to come through. It's a lovely balanced cookie, and surprisingly simple to make.  Dorie Greenspan's recipe is foolproof, and the perfect holiday cookie- it's refind and special, yet comforting and classic.  Baking Chez Moi is full of delicious recipes and tips that I can't wait to try.  My only problem is deciding which new recipe to start with!

Rugelach with Raspberries and Walnuts
rugelach recipe from Baking Chez Moi


For the Dough

4 ounces cold cream cheese, cut into 4 pieces

1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt

For the Raspberry Filling

6 ounces fresh raspberries

1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts

powdered sugar, for dusting


To make the dough, begin by letting the cream cheese and butter rest on the counter for about ten minutes while you prepare the remaining ingredients.  They should be just barely softened and still cool.  Add the flour and salt to a food processor, and toss in the cream cheese and butter chunks.  Pulse the food processor about 6-10 times, just to incorporate everything, then process until the dough begins to form large curds.  Don't over-process the dough, the dough shouldn't form a ball on the food processor blade. 

Turn the dough out and divide it in half.  Shape each half into a disk and wrap tightly in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate the dough for at least 2 hours, or up to one day.

To prepare the raspberry filling, combine the raspberries, sugar, and lemon juice in a small saucepan and set over medium heat, bringing the mixture to a boil.  Lower the heat to medium and simmer until the raspberries have broken down and begun to thicken slightly, about 15-18 minutes.  Stir the raspberries occasionally and mash with a rubber spatula.  Remove the saucepan from the heat and allow the mixture to cool completely.  The raspberry mixture will thicken as it cools. 

When it's time to shape the cookies, pull one disk from the refrigerator and leave it on the counter for a few minutes so it can lose its chill.  Unwrap the disk and place it on a lightly floured work surface.  Roll the dough out to a 12-inch circle, and spread a thin, even layer of the raspberry spread over the dough, followed by half of the chopped walnuts.  Using a pizza wheel or sharp knife, cut the dough into 16 wedges.  The easiest way to do this is to cut the dough into quarters, and then cut each quarter into 4 wedges. Separate one wedge from the circle roll the dough up, and tuck in the corners at the wide end.  Then, roll the dough up onto itself, starting at the wide end to create a crescent shape.  Gently bend the cookies slightly at the center to give them a curved shape.  Repeat with the remaining wedges. Arrange the cookies on a baking sheet that's been lined with parchment paper or a silicone liner and place in the refrigerator.  Repeat with the second disk of dough. 

Refrigerate the shaped cookies for 30 minutes.  In the meantime, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and position the oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven.  Beat the egg with a tablespoon of water to create an egg wash, and brush it over the cookies and bake until the tops are golden brown, about 23-25 minutes.  Allow the cookies to cool slightly on the baking sheets before transferring them to wire racks to cool completely.  Dust with powdered sugar and enjoy! 

Makes 32 rugelach


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