Wednesday, February 11, 2009
RUGELACH PRONOUNCED 'RUG-A-LAH'
I first saw rugelach when Anna Olson made it on Sugar. It looked rather fiddly and although fiddly is sometimes my middle name it was a year before I resigned myself to making some. Apricot jam or jams of any kind wasn't something that anyone ate at home, the combination of jam and chocolate did not sound too good to me and currants or raisins I find too sweet. I know that I can devise my own fillings but I always prefer to make the originals of anything before I reinvent them.That way I'll know what they are supposed to taste like and whether the reinvented ones are better or worse.
But they looked so very rustic and appealing and since rustic is also my middle name I finally got down to business and made the dough last night and rolled them out and up today. I was envisioning a relaxed, laid back afternoon of rugelach rolling, fiddling and baking in the purity of solitary confinement where nobody would be hovering, vulturing and gawking at this strange-name cookie but, alas, solitary confinement is not my middle name and coupled with the mouth-watering, tempting and irresistable looking rug-a-lah, (doesn't that sound suspiciously Malaysian? :) ) that I had slid out from the oven, I had a hard time pacifying them while I did some photo shoots.
Finally when the inevitable question arose I had good answers. Yes they were good, very good. The pastry was light and crisp outside, soft inside and the fillings surprised me by getting along so well together. The sweetness was something that can be controlled easily without affecting the texture of the cookie and pleasantly the jam and chocolate married well. The walnuts though could have been more finely chopped and I loved the sugary, amber glaze of the crescents. But the crescents were what made me happy. At last I could make croissants without making croissants. Odd as it may seem it gave me quite a kick rolling them up and curling them inwards. I have never made cookies like these before, they were different and totally cool.
I googled for the rugelach recipe and I always ended up getting almost the same basic recipe. It had to be good so I went with it. Smitten Kitchen's and Dorie Greenspan's recipes were what I followed.
4 oz cold cream cheese, cut into 4
4 oz cold butter, cut into 4
1/8 cup castor sugar
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 to 2/3 cup apricot jam, warm up with little water to liquify it for brushing
2 Tbsp castor sugar mixed with
1/2 - 1 tsp cinnamon powder
1/4 cup chopped nuts (I used walnuts)
1/4 cup raisins or currants ( I soaked them in water for 10 minutes to reduce its sweetness, drained, squeezed out the water and dried on a paper towel before chopping it up) You need not do this if you like it as is.
2/3 cup mini semi sweet choc chips
1 egg ( I used only the white), lightly beaten
2 Tbsp coarse sugar mixed with
1 tsp cinnamon powder (my own addition)
Make the dough the night before for convenience :
In a food processor pulse flour, cheese and butter 6 to 10 times or less just until the dough forms large curds (not forming a ball). Put the dough into a large bowl and gather it up with your fingers until it comes together into a ball. Because I wanted to make very dainty rugelach I divided the dough into 4 equal parts and shaped them into discs. Wrap in cling film or foil and refrigerate overnight or for 2 hours.
Prepare fillings :
Place each of the different fillings in small bowls, ready chopped. It is advisable to chop the nuts finely. I did not and had a problem with them being too chunky when I rolled the dough up. Make sure the jam is of a spreadable consistency.
Roll out one disc to the size of a dessert plate, about 6-7 inches diameter. If the dough is just out of the refrigerator and is too hard bash it with a rolling pin then roll. Cut the circle into 4, then into 8 wedges.
Brush them with the jam well, reaching the edges and sprinkle with cinnamon/sugar mixture, 1/4 of the nuts, 1/4 of the raisins/currants and1/4 of the choc chips.
Starting from the broad edge roll up so that the point finishes off outside, then bend it so that it forms a crescent shape. Do this to all the wedges. Brush the tops with the egg white and sprinkle with coarse sugar-cinnamon mixture. Bake in a 170 C oven for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.
Do the same for the other 3 discs. Bake them all and these are what you get. Beautiful rug-a-lahs!
Note : You may as per original recipe divide the dough into 2 and make only 2 discs. Roll each disc into 10-11 inch circles and cut into 16 wedges each and carry on from there, brushing with jam, scattering fillings etc. These make bigger rugelachs.