This rugelach recipe comes to us from Carla Snyder, author of Sweet and Tart: 70 Irresistible Recipes with Citrus. We love the fact that Grandma’s Rugelach recipe represents not just one but two grandmas. These special little cookies marry Carla’s husband’s grandmother’s cream cheese cookie dough with Snyder’s grandmother’s magical nut filling.
Some history of rugelach cookies
Though I don’t speak Yiddish, I’m told rugelach literally translates as “little twists.” It is an apt name for these rolled-up cookies that are part of many Jewish celebrations. The dessert is originally Polish although today great rugelach are made around the world. The cookie is typically rolled into a crescent, like a croissant. However, some rugelach recipes are formed more like a strudel then sliced before cooking to make rolled parcels.
They’re typically made with a filling of nuts, cinnamon, raisins, chocolate or fruit preserves. However, some chefs experiment with savory rugelach filling. (You might even find a smoked salmon and cream cheese rugelach!)
Why this is the best rugelach recipe
Rugelach pastry is usually made with dairy in the dough, sometimes sour cream, for moisture and texture. But some is dairy-free rugelach. But we think the best version is made with a cream cheese pastry dough. This recipe’s cream cheese dough has great texture and is easy to work with.
A rugelach for romance?
Although we think of these cookies as part of a homey, family tradition, it’s worth pointing out that two of the main flavorings, both walnuts (or pecans) and vanilla are considered potent aphrodisiacs. So if you’re baking a batch for a family potluck, you might want to save a few to share with your one and only.
The perfect marriage of buttery dough and sweet nuttiness, the rugelach recipe can be made in advance and stored in the freezer–if you can resist!
Grandma's Rugelach Recipe
For the nut filling:
- 3/4 cup/175 ml milk
- 1/4 cup/50 ml unsalted butter
- 1 cup/250 ml granulated sugar
- 1-1/2 lb/750 g ground walnuts or pecans
- 1/2 tsp/2 ml vanilla
For the dough
- 1 lb/500 g cream cheese softened
- 1 lb/500 g unsalted butter softened
- 4-3/4 cups/1175 ml unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1/4 tsp/1 ml salt
- confectioner’s sugar sifted for rolling, icing
- To make the nut filling, add the milk, butter and sugar to a medium saucepan.
- Bring the pan to a boil over medium heat and add the ground nuts.
- Stir the nut mixture constantly and cook until it is thick, about 5 minutes.
- Remove the pan from the heat and add the vanilla. Cool the nut filling and use it to fill cookies, pastries and breads.
- While the nut filling is cooling, make the dough: Add the cream cheese and butter to the mixer bowl and beat with the flat beater on Speed 4 until smooth. Turn the machine to Stir and gradually add in the flour and salt, mixing until a dough forms.
- Divide the dough into 8 disks and refrigerate them wrapped in plastic wrap for 1 hour. If the dough rests in the refrigerator overnight it can rest on the counter for 30 minutes before rolling to soften it up a bit.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Using a fine mesh strainer, sprinkle 1 tbsp (15 mL) or more of the confectioner’s (icing) sugar over the work surface.
- Lay one of the disks of dough on the work surface and sprinkle the top with the confectioner’s sugar.
- Roll the disk into a 10-inch (25 cm) round.
- Spread 1/2-cup of the cooled nut filling thinly over the round.
- Using a pastry wheel or a sharp knife, cut the round into 8 wedges. Beginning at the large end of each wedge, roll the cookie towards the small pointed end.
- Lay the cookies as they are shaped 2-inches (5 cm) apart onto parchment lined sheet pans.
- Bake the cookies in the preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until they are golden brown.
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