It's a bite sized cookie, with flavors of a pie, shape of a croissant and a pretty, pretty name. It's Rugelach. I first heard of this cookie when it became the baking pick for Tuesdays with Dorrie a couple of months back. The looks, the concept - everything was fascinating. And I've dreamed of making this cookie ever since. I ditched hundreds of recipes floating around and went straight to the master. It's Dorie Greenspan's recipe that I used, and ain't I glad I got it so perfect the very first time.
So what's rugelach? It's cream-cheese pastry dough, rolled then cut into wedges, spread with jam and sugar and fillings of choice, rolled into crescents and baked. First the dough. Dorie did it in her processor, but I just went and did it by hand. Put 100 gms cream cheese and 100 gms butter out of the fridge until they were soft but still cold. Added both to a cup of plain flour (I omitted the salt because I use salted butter). Rubbed the flour and butter/cheese until the dough came together. This is not a dough you knead a lot. Dorie now says to chill the dough overnight, but I figured it might get too hard to roll then. So I covered and chilled the dough for half an hour, then divided it into four balls and rolled each one to as perfect a circle as I could. I carefully put these circles between sheets of waxed paper and let them chill overnight.
This morning, I chopped a handful of walnuts and raisins into really small bits. Mixed a tsbp of castor sugar with a hearty pinch of cinammon. Heated 2 tbsp strawberry jam in microwave until it melted. Now bring out your first circle of dough, spread melted jam on it, sprinkle cinammon sugar, walnuts and raisins. Cut the circle into 8 or 16 wedges depending on how large you make it. Now starting from the base of each wedge, roll it so it forms a crescent by the time you reach the tip. Place this on a non-stick baking sheet and roll out the rest similarly.
This was Dorie's way. But was it messy! For the next circle of dough, I did it my way. I first cut the dough into wedges. Then I added the jam and filling separately in the centre of each wedge, leaving out the tip entirely. Made it so much easier to roll. I'd add another helpful hint here - don't take the dough out until the last minute. Specially in Mumbai heat, it will soon get too soft to roll.
Once all your cookies are rolled, heat the oven to 190C. Brush the top of cookies with a little water, then sprinkle some cinammon sugar on each. Bake for 20 minutes, until they turn golden.
That's the basic cookie - sweet but not overly so. It's so flaky you could be eating a very well-made pie.
And can you see possibilities here. Think chocolate sauce and chocolate chips. Plus, the dough doesn't even have any sugar so rugelach's not even got to be sweet. I can already dream of tomato sauce and corn rugelach. Or pesto and goat cheese. Come back here in a few weeks, and you can bet this beauty's going to surface again. Soon.