For a long time, rugelach has been on that list. Rugelach is a crescent-style pastry with some sort of filling. I actually haven't eaten rugelach for years, but I have still wanted to try it.
Last week, I finally had the occasion that called for something special, so decided to tackle this pastry. What was that occasion? I'd reached the final class on a Groupon I had for a local, awesome Zumba studio. And I wanted to thank both the amazing instructor and the awesome, friendly woman at the front desk. What better way to thank someone than with a tasty treat?
There are many recipes out there for the actual pastry dough for rugelach, ranging from very simple to very complicated. But most that I saw were of the simple variety, with only a few ingredients. Flour, a touch of salt, maybe some sugar (I used brown sugar) and lots of butter and cream cheese.
These were mixed together in the food processor until they almost form a cohesive dough...
...and then I did a quick, final knead to really bring it together. The dough is enough for two sets of pastries, so I divided it up and popped it into the fridge.
Now... there was just one problem.
All that butter and cream cheese. While I was making these treats to share with the lovely folks at the studio, I still wanted to save a few for my family. But with all that butter and cream cheese, there was no way that little man could eat these.
So I made a quick half-batch just for him. Dough came together exactly the same...
...but with two slight ingredient substitutions.
Okay, so that's not so slight. In place of butter, I used coconut oil, and in place of cream cheese, I used a vegan cream cheese alternative.
It was actually really easy.
The vegan dough went into the fridge right next to the other one, and there they all rested overnight.
The next day, it was time to get rolling.
Each disc is rolled out into a circle about 1/8 of an inch thick, then spread with any filling you choose.
My first filling was one that is relatively traditional for rugelach - chocolate and cinnamon sugar.
Once the topping is spread over the dough, simply cut the circle into wedges (I used a pizza cutter - super easy!) and roll each wedge up crescent-roll style.
A quick egg-wash and a sprinkle of cinnamon sugar...
...and these were ready for the oven to turn into flaky deliciousness.
As the first batch baked, I started on the second flavor. I re-mixed some of the brown sugar-chai masala filling that I'd used for the chai-spiced cinnamon rolls and used that.
And these baked up just as beautifully.
And finally, it was time to roll the vegan dough. The coconut oil made this dough a little tougher to roll, and it cracked a lot more while I was rolling it, but I was finally able to work it into a thin circle, which I spread with blackberry preserves.
To keep these vegan, I skipped the egg-wash and, instead, brushed these with a bit of coconut milk. The preserves leaked out more than the other fillings, but other than that, they didn't look too bad.
Now, seeing that this was the first time I'd ever made these, I had to taste them before packaging them up! And I was super happy with the results. Even the vegan version were crisp and flaky. The chocolate and cinnamon sugar ones were my favorite, but all three had a really nice flavor and were really fun to eat.
So I was super happy to share these to thank the wonderful folks at the Zumba studio. And luckily, they told me that they liked them - so I'd say it worked out pretty well.
(based on allrecipes.com)
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons brown sugar
a pinch of salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into chunks (vegan alternative: coconut oil)
8 ounces cream cheese, cut into chunks (vegan alternative: vegan cream cheese, such as Tofutti brand)
any filling of your choice (about 1/4 cup filling per portion of dough, more or less to your preference)
Combine flour, sugar and salt in your food processor, pulsing a few times just to combine.
Add chunks of butter and cream cheese slowly, pulsing to combine as you add. Once all of the butter and cream cheese has been added, run the food processor until the dough forms large curds.
Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface and knead it lightly just a few times to bring it together.
Divide the dough into two equal pieces, form each into a disc and wrap each in plastic wrap. Refrigerate dough at least two hours or overnight.
When you are ready to prepare and bake the rugelach, preheat the oven to 375 degrees and remove the dough from the refrigerator.
Roll each section of dough into a circle approximately 1/8 of an inch thick. Spread the dough with the filling of your choice (chopped chocolate, cinnamon sugar, jams - the choices are limitless!). Cut the dough into wedges (a pizza cutter makes this simple). Each circle can make 12-16 wedges.
Roll each wedge, from the wide end toward the tip. Place each rolled piece onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet.
If desired, brush each piece with egg wash (or, for the vegan pastries, coconut milk) and sprinkle them with a touch of cinnamon sugar.
Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes (mine took about 22 minutes).
Transfer pastries to a wire cooling rack and allow to cool a bit before tasting. They will crisp up a bit more as they set.