In today's information age, we now have a panoramic view of the culinary landscape. Today the flavors of the world are at our fingertips, and that's what led to my first attempt at rugelach, a traditional Jewish pastry.
The first bite of the buttery, flaky rugelach reminded me of the scraps of pie dough sprinkled with cinnamon sugar that my mother would sometimes bake as an impromptu afternoon snack. By the second bite, I realized that rugelach might be the perfect companion for a little conversation and coffee.
The following recipe is from Carole Walter's outstanding book Great Coffee Cakes, Sticky Buns, Muffins, & More:
- 1/2 of this dough recipe.
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 cup apricot preserves
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest
- 1 cup mini-chocolate chips
- 3/4 cup medium chopped walnuts or pecans (optional. My rugelach are nutless because Little Miss Pickyeater doesn't like nuts, unless they're good cashews)
- Position the racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven, and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
- Combine the sugar, cocoa powder, and cinnamon in a small bowl. In another small bowl, combine the preserves with the zest. Set aside.
- Remove one piece of dough from the refrigerator, and divide it in half. Reshape each half into a small rectangle. Working with one piece at time, place the dough on a lightly floured pastry board or other flat surface and roll into an 8 x 10-inch rectangle. Arrange the dough so the 10-inch side is parallel to the edge of the board or countertop.
- Using a spatula, spread the rectangle with 2 tablespoons of preserves, leaving a 3/4-inch margin on the far side of the sough. Sprinkle with two tablespoons of the sugar/cocoa mixture, followed by 1/4 cup of chocolate chips and nuts, if using.
- Brush the far edge and the side of the dough with the egg wash, then roll into a log, gently stretching the dough on either end as you roll. When the log measure approximately 12- inches long, use a dough scraper or sharp knife to cut into twelve 1-inch pieces. Place on the prepared pan and chill while shaping the remaining dough.
- Dip the top of each piece into the egg wash, then into the reserved nuts. Return to the pan and press the nuts gently into the top to adhere, flattening the cookie slightly.
- Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the rugelach are golden brown. To ensure even baking, toward the end of baking time, rotate the pans from top to bottom and front to back. Remove from the oven and let cool on pans for about 10 minute. Loosen rugelach from cookie sheet and place on cooling racks. Dust with powdered sugar before serving.