Now here’s the deal. I’m Jewish. I had a bat-mitzvah. But my mother, the main chef of the family (no offense, Papa B), was raised Italian Catholic. Technically this means I’m not Jewish as Judaism is passed down through the mother, but I’m reform, and reform Jews are less picky.
Here and there, we’d have some Jew Food for dinner, but I don’t think I really know much about Jewish cuisine.
Oh sure, I know latkes, hamantashen, challah, and of course, rugelach, but I honestly can’t name too many other Jewish foods for you.
This is why I must make a culinary trip to Jerusalem.
Having learned Hebrew as a youngster, and currently learning French as a slightly older youngster, I relish any opportunity to hack and gag a word out. The “ch” in Hebrew is similar to the “r” in French. Both are guttural sounds that you make at the back of your throat. My French teacher tells us it should feel like we are about to spit, although we shouldn’t spit, because that would be rude.
So when I make these rugelach, I pronounce that ch up a storm, and I get as Jewish as I can. And then I eat them all. Cause they are really really good.
I made them last Saturday for a Purim Party I was having. Sadly, even though about half the number of people showed up that said they would, the rugelach still disappeared while I was being a good hostess. When I returned to the kitchen to snag myself a drink, all that remained were a few sad looking currants and a couple of chopped up walnut bits. This also explains the lack of pictures of rugelach. But I’ve put cat photos in to break up the text.
Take my advice, serve these at a smaller party. Something with less than 15 people. Cause then you get to eat as many as you want without being a bad hostess. Just a greedy hostess.
The dough for these cookies is not very sweet, but it is buttery and delicious. Just don’t eat it raw, its not good that way. I put rum in the filling because I like rum in food, but feel free to leave it out if you don’t.
These cookies are great, because you can freeze little logs of them and cut em up and eat em whenever you’re feeling Jewish. Or hungry.
That’s my mom’s cat, Darwin. He looks hungry.
And of course, the butter and the cream cheese must be at room temperature. I cut them up into little cubes and leave them on my kitchen table for at least a couple hours before even checking to see if they are ready. Never microwave to get to room temperature, it’ll mess up your butter and then everything will be ruined.
Adapted from The Sweet Life: Desserts from Chanterelle
For the dough:
4 ounces (115 grams, 1/2 cup) butter, at room temperature
4 ounces (115 grams, 1/2 cup) cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup (140 grams) flour
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
Beat the cream cheese and butter together with the paddle attachment of a stand mixer or a hand mixer on medium until light, fluffy, and increased in size, about 5-8 minutes, scraping down the sides every few minutes. Add in the dry ingredients all at once and beat on slow speed until combined. Then scrape down the sides and beat on medium speed for 15 seconds. Pat the dough into a rectangle, cover with plastic wrap, and chill in the refrigerator at least two hours.
2 tablespoons rum (optional)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (or cardamom or ginger)
1/4 cup sugar + 1/4 cup sugar
2 ounces (65 grams) currants
1 inch strip lemon zest (optional)
4 ounces (115 grams) chopped walnuts
1 egg, beaten (for egg wash)
If using the rum, heat the rum, currants, and lemon zest over the stove in a small saucepan and let simmer for a couple minutes. Remove from the heat and let steep for a few hours or overnight. The currants will plump up a bit and take on the flavors.
Drain the rum from the saucepan (if using), and mix the currants, walnuts, 1/4 cup of the sugar, and your spice of choice.
Preheat the oven to 350˚ F
Roll out the dough into a 13 by 16 inch rectangle. Cut the dough in half so you are left with 2 rectangles measuring 6 1/2 by 16 inches. Brush the egg wash over the entirety of the two rectangles. Evenly distribute the currant/nut mixture, leaving one inch of the dough furthest away from you bare. Then begin to roll up the rugelach. Taking the end nearest to you, roll a tight spiral of dough that will end up being 16 inches long.
If you have time, freeze the logs for 15 minutes before baking. If not, no biggie. Brush the logs evenly with egg wash and sprinkle on the reserved 1/4 cup sugar. Cover two baking sheets with parchment paper. Cut out one inch cookies and place them evenly on the baking sheets, with dough facing up, not the nutty spiral. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool on racks and then enjoy.
Keep for 3 days in an airtight container.
If freezing, wrap the logs well and freeze for up to one month.