SMiLes by Meg

Rugelach

Last week, I baked my first recipe out of Sweet, but did so down in DC with Cate and Jonathan. This week, I baked my first recipe out of my own copy of Sweet, and did so here in Cambridge, during a much-needed weekend without travel. I had originally planned on making Torrone, but decided to wait on that. Then, I thought I’d make Ottolenghi’s peanut butter s’more cookies, but again decided it seemed a little too involved. Finally, I settled on Rugelach: impressive looking, but not overly time-consuming.

And, as luck would have it, they got one of my best receptions of all time, with at least four people telling me they were the best thing I’ve ever made. I don’t think that’s true, but the validation of my baking skills is nice.

I got to use a bunch of fun stuff on these, mostly because Whole Foods was having a strangely good day as far as low prices for ingredients that are usually expensive. Thanks, Amazon!

Basically, this means I used real vanilla bean (for the first time ever!) and quince paste (rather than apricot jam). Since I believe that high quality ingredients really are what separate a good dessert from a great one, I’ll attribute all of the praise I received to these changes.

First, in a food processor, pulse together the flour, salt, baking powder, lemon zest, and vanilla seeds. Then, add the butter, and pulse for about 15 seconds until dough becomes sandy in texture. Next, add the cream cheese, and process until dough just begins to come together. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface, knead a few times, and divide dough into two balls. Flatten into disks and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for one hour.  When ready to assemble, toast the walnuts for 5 minutes at 350°F. Allow to cool slightly, then chop and mix with cinnamon and brown sugar. In a second bowl, mix together the quince and lemon juice. Roll out one piece of the pastry dough into a roughly 9 inch circle.Spread with half of the quince, and sprinkle with half of the walnut mixture. Cut circle into 12 equal wedges, as if you’re cutting a pizza. To do this, first cut into quarters, then cut each quarter into thirds. Roll each wedge from the long end to the point and place on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Repeat with other half of dough.

Refrigerate assembled cookies for 30 minutes.

When ready to bake, brush each cookie with egg wash and sprinkle with turbinado (or other coarse grain) sugar.

Bake at 400°F for about 20 minutes, until tops brown. Allow to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. As you peel them off the parchment paper, I highly encourage eating the melty caramel from the edges – in the interest of keeping the cookies neat, of course. Store these in an airtight container, and they should keep for awhile. Although mine literally disappeared in less than an hour when put out at a party.

Enjoy!

Rugelach

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cups (160g) flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • zest of one lemon
  • scraped seeds of 1/4 vanilla bean pod
  • 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon butter, chilled
  • 4 1/2 ounces cream cheese, chilled
  • 1/3 cup walnut halves
  • 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon (100g) light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 5 1/4 ounces quince paste
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • turbinado sugar

Directions:

  1. In a food processor, pulse together flour, salt, baking powder, lemon zest, and vanilla seeds.
  2. Add the butter, cut into 1 inch cubes, and pulse for about 15 seconds until mixture resembles sand.
  3. Add cream cheese and process just until dough comes together.
  4. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead a couple of times. Divide dough into 2 balls and flatten each into disks. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  5. To assemble the filling, toast walnuts at 350°F for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly before chopping finely.
  6. Toss together walnuts, brown sugar, and cinnamon in a small bowl.
  7. In a separate small bowl, mix together quince paste and lemon juice.
  8. To assemble cookies, roll one piece of dough out into a 9 inch circle. Spread with half of the quince paste and sprinkle with half of the walnut mixture. Cut circle into 12 equal wedges. Roll each wedge from the long end to the point in the middle. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Repeat with other piece of dough.
  9. Refrigerate unbaked cookies for 30 minutes.
  10. Brush each cookie with egg wash and sprinkle with turbinado sugar.
  11. Bake at 400°F for 20 minutes or until brown. Cool 5 minutes on pan before transferring to wire rack to cool completely.

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