Rugelach are a traditional Jewish pastry snack. They’re part cookie, part pastry, and often seasoned with a sweep of apricot preserves and cinnamon sugar and laced with raisins and walnuts (but fillings can vary from fruit to chocolate). Our “wish list” for memorable rugelach includes a bounteous filling encased in a meltingly tender, delicate dough that bakes to a stable—but not rigid—pastry.
And to keep it all together, we found a few tips and a rolling technique that keeps the filling on the inside the cookies instead of on the baking sheet. First, if using fruit preserves or nuts, make sure to pulse them in the food processor or chop them finely, respectively. A bit of the filling will still gather around the baked rugelach, lending them a rustic appearance—while they last.
1. Cover the dough with filling: On a lightly floured counter roll each piece of chilled dough into an 11-inch circle about 1⁄4 inch thick. Over each piece of dough, spread a thin layer of filling. If you try to pack too much filling into the cookie (and many recipes do), the cookies turn out oddly shaped and burnt because the filling leaks during baking.
2. Roll crescent shapes: Using a knife or pizza cutter, cut each circle into 8 equal wedges. Starting at the wide end, roll up each wedge into a crescent-shaped cookie. There are several traditional methods for shaping rugelach; however, we like this method because it’s the easiest and makes the prettiest cookies.
3. Put the point underneath: With the pointed end on the bottom, lay the cookies on the parchment-lined baking sheet, about 2 inches apart, then freeze for 15 minutes. Pinning the point underneath each cookie will prevent them from unraveling as they bake.
4. Don’t let them sit: Immediately after baking, transfer the hot cookies to a wire rack to cool. A bit of the sticky filling inevitably leaks out of these cookies during baking, and it will glue the cookies permanently to the parchment paper if the cookies are allowed to cool.
Want to try it for yourself? Check out our Crescent-Shaped Rugelach with Raisin-Walnut Filling recipe for free through December 13, 2012.