Rugelach

Rugelach

Prep: 30 mins

Cook: 25 mins

Chilling Time: 5 hrs

Total: 5 hrs 55 mins

Servings: 8 servings

Yield: 16 cookies

In Yiddish, rugelach means “little twist”, referencing the crescent-shaped cookie made with tender dough coiled around a nutty filling.

Rugelach are believed to be closely related to an 18th century Austrian pastry, and similar crescent-shaped pastries can be found in many bakeries across the world. Originally made with a yeasted dough, this cream cheese version became ubiquitous in the last century.

Filled with nuts, spices, and dried fruit, the flaky pastry is well caramelized on the bottom and bronzed on the top. Crispy, sweet, small, and rich, they’re perfect with a cup of coffee or tea. Rugelach will stay fresh for weeks in a cookie tin and make a lovely addition to cookie gift boxes.

“Making rugelach is really nostalgic for me, and this recipe was no different. I highly recommend adding this to your holiday cookie queue, you won’t be disappointed!” —Tracy Wilk 

Rugelach

A Note From Our Recipe Tester

Ingredients

For the Dough:

  • 4 ounces (113 grams) cold cream cheese, cubed

  • 4 ounces (1/2 cup/113 grams) cold unsalted butter, cubed

  • 1 cup (125 grams) all-purpose flour, more for the work surface

  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt

For the Filling:

  • 1/4 cup (40 grams) finely chopped toasted walnuts

  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 1 teaspoon honey

  • 1/4 cup (35 grams) dried currants

For the Egg Wash:

  • 1 large egg, beaten with 1 teaspoon water and a pinch of salt

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Rugelach

  2. Add the cream cheese, butter, flour, and salt to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until combined and pebbly, then run the machine continuously until the dough forms a ball, about 1 minute. Alternatively, cut the cream cheese and butter into the flour with a pastry cutter or two knives until crumbly. Use your hands to gather the mixture into a cohesive dough.

    Rugelach

  3. Form a 6-inch disk, then wrap the dough. Use a rolling pin across the wrap’s surface to flatten and smooth the top. Tap the edges around the disk to form a 1-inch edge. This will keep the dough from crumbling at the edges when rolled out. Refrigerate the dough disk for at least 4 hours or overnight.

    Rugelach

  4. Stir together the walnuts, sugar, and cinnamon in a small bowl.

    Rugelach

  5. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and allow it to warm slightly until a fingertip can be slightly pressed into the surface without cracking, about 5 minutes.

    Rugelach

  6. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

    Rugelach

  7. Lightly flour the work surface. Roll the dough into a circle about 10-inches in diameter, and about 1/4-inch thick. For the tidiest, prettiest cookies, trim to size using a fluted pastry cutter or a pizza wheel.

    Rugelach

  8. Use a pastry brush to lightly brush the honey over the surface of the dough leaving a 1/2-inch border.

    Rugelach

  9. Spread the nut mixture across the surface of the dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border.

    Rugelach

  10. Scatter the currants evenly over the nut mixture and press down gently into the dough.

    Rugelach

  11. Use the fluted wheel or pizza cutter to divide the circle into 16 even triangular wedges. It's OK if the sugary mixture moves around.

    Rugelach

  12. Use an offset spatula, as needed, to loosen one section at a time from the work surface. Working from the wide end of each triangle, roll the crescent up to the pointed end, pressing to seal. It's OK if some of the filling falls out and ends up on the outside of the cookie.

    Rugelach

  13. Place the cookie, seam side down, on the baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining pieces. Freeze for at least 1 hour.

    Rugelach

  14. Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat to 375 F. Stack another baking sheet under the one holding the cookies. Brush the egg wash lightly on the top of each cookie. Bake for 22 to 25 minutes until the cookies are deeply bronzed and the filling is bubbling.

    Rugelach

  15. Remove the baking sheet to a rack to cool the cookies completely before storing.

    Rugelach

Recipe Tips

  • The recipe may be doubled. Make 2 disks, 16 cookies each.
  • Finely chopping the nuts makes it easier to roll the crescent tightly. 
  • Use full fat, block cream cheese (not whipped) and the very best butter. 
  • Currants can be hard to find. Substitute any dried fruit and chop very finely. 
  • Avoid the temptation to increase the filling. It will be messy, contribute to burning, and will not benefit the cookie.
  • The cookies keep their shape best when frozen before baking. 
  • Double the baking sheets to avoid burning. Caramelized is lovely. Burned is not.

Make Ahead

The dough may be made up to 3 days in advance or frozen up to 3 months in advance. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator.

Recipe Variations

  • Crescent shape got you down? Roll the dough into a 9 by 12 inch rectangle. Spread the filling across the dough and tightly roll into a tidy cylinder from the 12 inch edge. Cut the dough into 1 inch segments and freeze the unbaked cookies, as above. Proceed with the recipe.
  • Swap out the dried fruit and use 2 tablespoons of any jam instead (if it’s chunky, finely chop the fruit). Spread the jam thinly across the dough, in place of the honey, and proceed. Try raspberry jam and chopped pecans. Plum jam and almonds. Cherry jam and pistachios. Nutella and chopped peanuts.
  • Go savory. Brush olive oil lightly across the dough. Sprinkle with za’atar, dried barberries, salted pistachios, a pinch of smoked paprika, and 2 tablespoons crumbled feta. Or try onion jam and grated parmesan cheese.

How to Store or Freeze

  • Rugelach store beautifully. Keep the cooled cookies between layers of wax paper in a tightly covered container where they will be delicious for up to 3 weeks. 
  • Freeze the baked cookies for up to 3 months. 
  • Freeze the unbaked cookies for up to 3 months and bake them straight from the freezer for the same amount of time.
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 8
Amount per serving
Calories 283
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 20g 26%
Saturated Fat 11g 53%
Cholesterol 68mg 23%
Sodium 122mg 5%
Total Carbohydrate 22g 8%
Dietary Fiber 1g 4%
Total Sugars 9g
Protein 4g
Vitamin C 0mg 1%
Calcium 35mg 3%
Iron 1mg 7%
Potassium 110mg 2%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.

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