It’s said to have come from the Yiddish word “rugel,” meaning royal. Rolled out delicate dough filled with a variety of ingredients, rugelach (pronounced rug-a-lach) has grown in popularity from a Jewish specialty baked during the holidays to an American favorite enjoyed all year long.
It seems as though every country has its own version and name for rugelach and there are hundreds of recipe variations for this bite-sized goody. For the dough, sour cream or cream cheese is added to the flour which makes for flavorful dough that’s extremely easy to work with.
These one or two bite morsels are generally filled with ingredients like sugar, cinnamon, walnuts, raisins, chocolate, or preserves with a little cinnamon sugar sprinkled on top.
Again, there are a number of ways to roll and cut rugelach, but the classic shapes are crescents or squares. I know that rugelach is baked up en masse for Hanukkah celebrations and but there are plenty more chances in the days ahead to make, bake and deliver these delicious and delicate gifts from the kitchen for the holidays.
1 cup butter, softened
1 (8-oz.) package cream cheese, softened
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 ½ cup sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups walnuts, finely chopped
In a mixing bowl, blend together butter and cream cheese until well incorporated. Add flour, sugar and salt, blending well. Gather dough and divide into two balls. Refrigerate in plastic wrap for at least 1-2 hours. Meanwhile, make filling. In a bowl, mix together 1 cup sugar, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, 1/8 teaspoon salt and 1 ½ cups chopped walnuts. When dough is chilled, cut each ball into two pieces. You will have 4 dough balls to work with.
For crescent shape: On a lightly floured surface, roll dough ball into an approximate 9-inch circle 1/16 of an inch thick. Sprinkle ¼ of filling mixture over circle, leaving a ¼ inch border. Gently pat filling into dough. Cut circle into 12 wedges. Roll each wedge up starting at the wide end to form a crescent. Sprinkle top with filling mixture.
For square shape: On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into a 9-inch long rectangle. Sprinkle ¼ of filling mixture over dough, leaving a ¼ inch border. Gently pat filling into dough. Starting at the bottom, roll dough up tightly into tube shape. Gently flatten tube with your hands.
Cut into 1-inch squares. Sprinkle tops with filling mixture. Place pieces onto parchment lined (or lightly greased) baking sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for about 15-18 minutes or until deep golden brown. Makes about 36 pieces. Dough can be made ahead and stored in plastic wrap for up to one week. Baked rugelach can be frozen.