I am not Jewish.
But I make a killer latke. At least that’s what a bunch of 5 year olds told me.
I ran a cooking class for a group of kids just before Hanukah a few years back. We made dreidels out of marshmallows and chocolate chips and we grated what seemed like hundreds of pounds of potatoes and onions. Then we fried them up into glorious latkes.
They were really good – if I don’t say so myself – but what would I know about “traditional” latkes? Probably the same thing I know about an “over-the-top” rugelach.
No, but wait a sec…I’ve had some pretty amazing rugelach in my life. I’ve graced some of the best Jewish bakeries in town that have served up some mighty fine biscuits. I know exactly what a really great rugelach should taste like, but I had never made them …that is, until about 10 years ago.
I was on a plane coming home from a trip and I sat next to the cutest bubbie (Jewish for grandma, in case you didn’t know). We chatted about all things baking and then got on the topic of rugelach. She said, “I’m going to tell you a little secret about the best rugelach”. My eyes opened wide and I was ready…lay it on me bubbie!!
“Cottage cheese”, she said…”just add a few scoops of cottage cheese”.
Who knew something so easy would make a world of difference. Since then, I’ve made them the traditional way (with only cream cheese) and I’ve made them with all cottage cheese…then I hit the rugelach jackpot…half cream cheese and half cottage cheese…bingo!
So, now our little secret is not such a secret anymore…but that’s okay. I wish I would have gotten her name. I’m sure she would have told me a thing or two about my latkes!!
Make sure the butter is REALLY cold…that step is so important to getting that flakey pastry!!
Don’t worry about the dough …it’s pretty “wet” but it will be beautiful once it’s chilled!
So, I give you 3 kinds of filling but they each have a lazy man’s substitute…this picture above is the substitute for the prune filling (my secret “healthy” ingredient – date paste!!)
Isn’t it just so pretty??
I love how they look even before the are cooked…and if you’re making a bunch of different fillings, you can differentiate them in your own creative way (I put chocolate chips on the top of the chocolate ones!!)
Oh, and do you want the no-brainer substitution for chocolate rugelach? Spread Nutella over the dough circle and sprinkle with chopped almonds or hazelnuts before you roll them up!
And if you’re lazy (like me), just roll the dough out in a rectangle, cut into squares and make them into rugelach “pockets”…and the uber easy approach is to fill them with a really good quality jam like Bonne Maman Cherry jam
Pockets of perfection!!
Even good enough to give away!!
- 2 cup all purpose flour (plus more for dusting)
- pinch salt
- 1 cup cold butter, cubed
- 1/2 pkg cold cream cheese, cubed (can even be frozen)
- 1/2 cup cottage cheese
- 1 egg yolk
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 cup walnuts, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup dried cherries, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup prunes, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup brandy
- 1 1/2 cups fresh breadcrumbs (or crushed plain cookies)
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup chopped chocolate
- 3/4 cup pecans, chopped
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 egg, beaten (optional)
- 1/2 cup coarse sugar (optional)
- Get two cookie sheets ready with silat or parchment; set aside
- In a food processor, pulse flour and salt.
- Add cold butter and cream cheese and pulse until crumbly; add cottage cheese and egg yolk and pulse until the dough comes together.
- Scrape the dough onto a floured wooden board and divide into 4 pieces.
- Wrap the 4 pieces in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 30 minutes (you can freeze it for 10-15 minutes if you are short on time)
- While the dough is chilling, mix up your fillings (you don’t have to make all of them – if you do, you will have leftovers that you can freeze for another time if you like – 2 will be plenty).
- In a bowl, make the first filling by mixing 1/4 c sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon, walnuts and cherries; set aside.
- You can make the second filling by mixing prunes, brandy, breadcrumbs and 1/2 c sugar in a another bowl; set aside
- You can make the third filling by mixing chocolate, pecans, cinnamon, 1/4 c granulated sugar and 1/4 c brown sugar in a bowl: set aside
- Roll one of the pieces of dough into a circle (about 1/8″ thick) and spread with your choice of filling (see pictures above for how much of each filling…go to the edges but don’t put so much that it spills out!).
- Cut into 16 triangles and roll inward (starting at the edge of the circle); tuck the pointy corner under the cookie and lay on a cookie sheet; continue wth all the other dough pieces.
- Cool in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.
- Heat the oven to 375 while the uncooked cookies are cooling in the fridge.
- Remove them from the fridge and brush the tops with the beaten egg and sprinkle with the course sugar (this is an optional step but makes the cookie soooo crispy!!)
- Bake for 20 minutes (or until they are golden.
- Now, I will tell you to cool them before you try one but, good luck with that!