How to Make Rugelach Cookies
Welcome to day 2 in Sally’s cookie palooza!
Today I’m partnering with King Arthur Flour. You know I am a total fangirl for KAF, so imagine my excitement when we began working together on their Holiday Table. The other week, we discussed what we’re grateful for. Working with such a well respected company who consistently puts forth quality products is now added to my list. (All opinions are my own, I really am a crazy nut for KAF!)
Have you ever made rugelach before? I know it looks ultra fancy and maybe a little intimidating. Like, how could I ever make something like that? Truth is, it’s just a matter of mixing up a dough, chilling it, and rolling it up with filling inside. Like cinnamon rolls, but without any yeast. Rugelach tastes like buttery, light, and flaky croissants, but aren’t nearly as fussy.
Did you read that?!
Easy homemade croissant-like delights!
Rugelach happily accommodates any sort of fillings from jam and chocolate to dried fruit and nuts. You can roll the dough up into different shapes, slicing pinwheels or spirals, there’s pull-apart or logs, wreaths, twists, you name it. But it all begins with just 1 dough and 1 filling. Here’s how to make rugelach cookies in 1 million photos.
Today we’ll make a traditional rugelach dough in the food processor and fill it with a sweet brown sugar cinnamon filling that will melt inside the dough as it bakes. The contrast between the salted dough and warm, sweet filling is just about as mouthwatering as cookies get.
The food processor lends a giant helping hand. It’s preferred because it helps create the light and tender pastry; a mixer creates a tougher pastry. The food processor will cut the various fats into the flour and salt mixture. We’ll be using cream cheese, butter, and sour cream in the dough. Health food? These are not.
You can use a pastry cutter if you prefer– and what I always prefer when making pie crust– but rugelach requires the teeniest, uniformly sized pieces of fat and flour. There’s wiggle room in pie dough, but not so much here. A food processor makes the job 150% easier and cuts time down to… maybe… 1 minute? Yup, about 1 minute to make this dough.
Flatten the dough into discs and chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours. Or you can pop into the freezer to enjoy homemade rugelach another day. That’s another beautiful thing about rugelach besides being crazy versatile. It’s patient; bake it later if you want!
But if today’s the day for rugelach (um and it should be), roll out the doughs after they’ve chilled, spread the filling on top, and cut into triangles like you would a pizza. And use a pizza cutter… like you would a pizza. The filling should be prepared in the food processor as well because we’re pulsing brown sugar, cinnamon, walnuts, and raisins together to make a moist dried fruit/nut paste of sorts. Heavy on that cinnamon because… holidays.
Press it down onto the dough so it has staying power.
The filling gets all melty and warm, the pastry is buttery, uniquely crisp, light, and flaky. Some filling may spill out and a little butter may drip out of the dough as the rugelach bakes. But this is all OK! That butter dripping out will “fry” the bottoms into a crispy phenomenon. And there’s still plenty of good stuff hiding inside, too.
A blizzard of confectioners’ sugar adds a finishing touch.
PS: Let’s talk about savory versions, maybe for any appetizers you need this holiday season? I’m thinking pesto and parmesan or a sweet/salty rendition with jam and fine goat cheese crumbles. With rugelach, the options are deliciously endless.
- 2 cups (241g) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (16 tablespoons; 230g) unsalted butter, cold and cubed
- 3/4 cup (6 ounces; 170g) cream cheese, cold and cubed
- 1/3 cup (75g) sour cream, cold
- 1/2 cup (100g) packed light or dark brown sugar
- 1 cup (115g) chopped walnuts (chopped pecans work too)
- 1/2 cup (85g) raisins (or dried cranberries for some color!)
- 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
- water for brushing dough
- optional for topping: confectioners' sugar
- For the crust: Place the flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a couple times to blend.
- Add the butter, cream cheese, and sour cream. Pulse until crumbly; this will take 30 seconds or so. Pulse until there are pea-sized crumbs throughout. See photo above for a visual.
- Divide the dough into three equal portions and gently flatten into a disc shape. Wrap in plastic wrap, then chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or up to 1 day. Or freeze for up to 3 months and thaw overnight in the refrigerator before using.
- For the filling: Pulse the brown sugar, walnuts, raisins, and cinnamon in the food processor until very finely chopped and well combined. The filling will feel a little moist. You'll have a little over 2 cups total.
- Line 3 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Set aside.
- Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Working with one disc of dough at a time and on a lightly floured work surface, roll into a 10-inch circle (roughly 1/4 inch thick, give or take) and brush it lightly with water. Spread about 1/3 of the filling on top. Gently press the filling down into the dough so it's compact.
- Using a pizza cutter or sharp knife, cut the dough into 8 equal wedges. If you’re cutting on a silicone mat, be careful not to cut the mat. Roll each wedge up, beginning with the wide end and ending with the narrow end. Place the rolls point-side down onto the baking sheets, 8 on each. Repeat with the remaining two discs of dough.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C).
- Bake the rugelach for 25 - 30 minutes, or until golden brown. As the rugelach bake, the butter will lightly fry their bottoms, giving them a super crunchy crust.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Dust with confectioners' sugar and serve warm or at room temperature. Cover leftovers and store tightly at room temperature for up to 5 days.
Make ahead tip: You can prepare the dough up to 1 day ahead of time as noted in step 3 or freeze for up to 3 months, also noted in step 3. You can prepare the filling 1 day in advance. Cover tightly and keep at room temperature until ready to use. Rugelach freezes well for up to 2 months; simply place in freezer bags. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before serving.
I've gotten some questions about this, but if you do not have a food processor, use a pastry cutter for the crust. Do not use a mixer. For the filling, simply chop it up very fine and use a pastry cutter again to combine it all.
In partnership with King Arthur Flour
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A giant hug to King Arthur Flour for sponsoring this cookie palooza post. To see more of my favorite recipes for the holidays, as well as three of my cookie baking tips, visit King Arthur Flour’s Holiday Table. And as always, happy baking. ♥
Did you miss yesterday’s cookie palooza recipe? Red velvet whoopie pies.
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