Thursday, April 1, 2010

Rugelach Virgin

I don't know where you stand on jelly-filled doughnuts, but I'm firmly on the "not down with it" side. Jelly-filled danish? Don't get it. I mean, wouldn't you just rather have a croissant? In fact the only place I think jelly should really be found is on toast. Or I used to. Until I discovered rugelach. I know that sounds so random (as if the opening declaration didn't already).

I'm definitely not a seasoned rugelach eater. Actually, I think I was a rugelach virgin until I made some for a recent Oscar party. I needed something "Jewish" and matzo ball soup wasn't calling my name so I found a recipe for rugelach. Even though I don't like jelly-filled stuff, I've ben known to make dishes I won't eat for parties, especially if it's in keeping with a theme. That's right, I'd rather go hungry than stray from a theme. It's a ridiculous affliction, I know. Anywho. . . I went through the motions of making the cream-cheese pastry for the rugelach and shook my head thinking, "What's wrong with people that makes them want to eat pastry stuffed with jelly?!"

I believe there are many variations on rugelach filling, but I decided to go with the straightforward apricot jelly, golden raisins and chopped walnuts, mainly because I had all of those ingredients on hand. I found a very handy tip on Food Network for cutting and rolling the dough, which smacked of cutting pizza, my very favorite food, which made the process quite fun. And since I don't possess the patience or confidence to attack a complicated dessert, anything fast and simple gets high marks in my book. OK, it does require you to chill your dough in advance but even the making of the dough was very elementary. It's like pastry for dummies. No measuring grams of ingredients or use of a kitchen scale. And did I mention you douse the jelly-filled rugelach in cinnamon sugar before baking? I figured it's like soy sauce and sushi. Use enough of it and it'll mask anything undesirable you're trying to ingest.

But now I have to eat crow because those darn jelly-filled rugelach were delicious! I found the fluffy little sweet and crunchy packets just delightful. I must have thrown back at least half a dozen as I attempted to get them onto a serving platter. I think they'd be a wonderful addition to an Easter brunch menu if you're hosting or attending one this weekend.

So for the record I must agree that jelly belongs on more places than toast. Although I wouldn't hold your breath to see me eat a danish anytime soon. I still have my jelly limits!

By Gourmet

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup plus 4 tsp sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup apricot preserves
1 cup loosely packed golden raisins, chopped
1 1/4 cup walnuts, finely chopped
Milk for brushing cookies

Whisk together flour and salt in a small bowl. Beat together butter and cream cheese in a large bowl in an electric mixer until combined well. Add flour mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until a soft dough forms. Gather dough into a ball and cut into four disks, each approximately 4 - 5 inches, and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill until firm, 8 - 24 hours.
Put over rack in middle position and preheat over to 350 degrees. Line bottom of a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Take one ball of dough at a time and roll out into a 10 - 12 inch circle, like a pizza crust. [Note: I had to let the dough soften slightly before I could really start to handle it but it can get soft quickly so beware.] Spread 1/4 of the jam onto the dough with an off-set spatula, then sprinkle with nuts and raisins. Finish with a good sprinkle of cinnamon sugar (at least 2 Tbsp for each batch).
Using a pizza cutter, cut the dough like spokes of a wheel into 12 portions. Starting from the outside, roll each wedge or "slice" inward like a crescent. Curve slightly and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet . Brush tops with milk and sprinkle with more cinnamon sugar. Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes, depending of the size of each piece. Remove pieces to cooling rack. Yields: 45 - 60 pieces, but I halved recipe as written with no problem.

No comments:

Post a Comment