Friday, January 4, 2013

Rugalach Cookies

Another of my family's Christmas traditions is Rugalach cookies.  If you know anything about Rugalach, this probably sounds bizarre to you, as Rugalach are a Jewish cookies.  My dad was raised Jewish, and our Rugalach recipe comes from his mother.  We have made them every Christmas for as long as I can remember, and so have my cousins (my dad's brother's children) so I guess we have practiced religious syncretism with regards to this cookie (special thanks to my father-in-law for the correct term here).  For those like me, who had never heard that term before, religious syncretism is the reconciliation or fusion of differing systems of belief.

I made another recipe of rugalach back in May, for one of my Tuesday's with Dorie challenges.  I discussed more of the history of the rugalach in that post, if you are interested.  These rugalach have the traditional shape, which is like a crescent roll.  The recipe makes 5 dozen cookies, which seems like it might be a lot but take it from me, these cookies disappear VERY quickly and you'll wish you had more.  Every year my sister makes the Christmas rugalach, but this year we were unable to celebrate Christmas together so I undertook the challenge.  We simply cannot have Christmas without rugalach!

The dough is made first.  This seems pretty self-explanatory but the dough actually chills overnight so you have to plan ahead a little bit.  Blend butter and cream cheese together until smooth.

Gradually add sour cream and sifted flour and mix until well combined.

Cover and refrigerate overnight.  The dough is really thick at this point.  Did you note that at no point did I say to add sugar to the dough?  Yes indeed, there is no sugar in the dough.  This is what makes these so great, to me.  You have this delicious pastry outside and then the sweet flavor from the filling!  I am getting ahead of myself, so let's continue.

At some point, either the night you make the dough or the day you are going to make the cookies, make the filling.  Combine sugar, brown sugar, pecans, raisins, chocolate chips and cinnamon together in a food processor until finely ground.  Set aside until you are ready to make the cookies.

Divide the dough into 6 pieces and form into balls.  Place one ball on a lightly floured surface and keep the remaining balls in the refrigerator.  Roll the dough ball into a 9-inch circle, and cut each circle into 10 wedges. 

Place a heaping teaspoon of the filling on the fat end of each wedge and roll tightly like a crescent roll.  Try to get as much filling in the dough without allowing it to spill out.  It is a bit tricky but you will find a rhythm.

Place the cookies with the point down on a parchment covered baking sheet.  You might notice that there are many cookies on this pan for which the point is not on the bottom.  When they baked, the point raised up sort of like a falcon beak.  My husband was very distressed and insisted I call my sister and find out her secret.  He was very insistent!  I am not sure how this happened, but he became the rugalach police that night!  Anyway, my sister, the rugalach expert, said she put the point DOWN.  Problem solved.    Bake at 375F for 15-20 minutes or until delicately browned.  Repeat this process until all of the dough is rolled into these nice cookies.  You will likely end up with some filling left over.  No problem.  Just put it aside and use it as a delicious ice cream topping.  Mmmm.

Yum.  These are my favorite Christmas cookies.  I have serious troubles walking anywhere near the kitchen and not eating one (or two).  They have that yummy pastry outside and the sweet mixture inside..  Heaven...

adapted from my grandmother
1 cup butter, unsalted
1 8oz. package of cream cheese, soft
4 cups sifted flour
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
3/4 cup pecans (or another nut of your choice)
3/4 cup raisins (this year, I used 1/2 raisins, 1/2 currants, just because I had them on hand)
3/4 cup chocolate chips
2 heaping teaspoons cinnamon

Blend the butter and cream cheese until smooth.  Gradually add flour and sour cream, and beat until well mixed.  Cover and chill overnight.  Grind filling of sugars, nuts, raisins, chocolate chips and cinnamon in a food processor until fine.  Set aside.  Divide dough into 6 pieces, form each into a ball.  On a floured board or pastry cloth, roll each ball into a 9-inch circle. Cut each circle into 10 wedges.  Place a heaping teaspoon of the filling mixture on the fat end of each wedge and roll tightly, starting at the wide edge.  Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet, with the point down.  Bake at 375F for 15-20 minutes or until delicately browned.  Makes 5 dozen cookies.
Printable recipe

What are some of your favorite Christmas traditions?

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