Both these cookies are made with the same cream cheese dough and are addictive whichever version you choose to try.
I haven’t made rugelach in ages. The recipe for the cream cheese pastry is very easy but the actual assembly is kind of fiddly. Don’t be intimidated as you can use the basic dough to make thumbprint cookies instead of the rugelach.
The picture (thumbprint cookies on the top row and various rugelach in the other 2 rows) below shows all of the cookies I made from 1/3 of the dough plus the trimming scraps. The yield varies but after making and eating the first batch, you’ll want to whip up another one immediately. :)
Rugelach with preserves or jam spread on pastry as a glue, ground nuts and sugar, and chocolate chips
Cutting the triangles
1 cup (8 oz.) butter, softened slightly
8 oz. cream cheese, softened slightly
2 tbsp (increase to 1/4 cup) granulated sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 cups sifted all purpose flour (plus extra for rolling)
1 egg, lightly beaten with 1 tsp cold water for egg wash
Walnut filling recipe follows
NOTE: This is a very soft dough and should be handled as little as possible while chilled, using lots of flour on the working surface and on top of the dough while rolling.
In a food processor, cream together the butter, cream cheese, sugar, salt, and vanilla until they are well combined. Add the flour and pulse just until a dough forms. (If you’ve left the butter and cream cheese at room temperature for a couple of hours it will seem overly soft, more like a batter than a dough, but will firm up during refrigeration. If you are using butter and cream cheese straight out of the fridge, it will be more dough like.)
Divide the dough in half; flatten into disks and wrap each disk in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours and up to 2 days, or freeze up to 3 months (thaw before baking).
Preheat oven to 350° F, with racks set in upper and lower thirds. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside. In a small bowl, combine egg with 1 teaspoon water to make an egg wash.
Working with one disk at a time, cut in half, place dough on lightly floured parchment paper and roll out into a 9-10 inch circle about 1/4″ thick, dusting with more flour if needed. If it cracks at the edges, bring it back together or patch if there are large tears. Using a large dinner plate as a guide, cut around the dough to make a perfect circle; trim off scraps. You can refrigerate this circle before filling if it seems to have gotten too soft.
(Combine all the scraps and form into balls for thumbprint cookies at the end of baking)
Brush the circle with egg wash, if your filling is a dry one, so as to have something for it to stick to. Divide the filling ingredients evenly among the circles made, and sprinkle on the walnut and brown sugar mixture. Using a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut each circle into 12 equal triangles. Starting from the wide end, roll up each triangle of dough. Place the crescents on the lined baking sheets, seam side down. Brush the top of the rolls again with egg wash. Bake until golden brown, 20-22 minutes. Transfer the rugelach to a wire rack to cool completely.
1 cup walnuts, finely chopped
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
Mix the filling ingredients together in a small bowl.
1 recipe of Rugelach pastry
1 cup of finely chopped or ground walnuts or almonds
Preserves of choice – apricot, plum
Take a piece of rugelach dough and roll into a small ball (1″ in diameter). Roll in chopped nuts. Place balls about 2″ apart onto a baking sheet which has been lined with parchment paper. Make a small depression in the ball with your thumb and fill with a scant 1/2 tsp jam. Bake for 12-15 min at 350 degrees F.