Rugelach are Jewish pastries that usually have a cream cheese–based dough and can be filled with anything from raspberry jam to cinnamon sugar to chocolate and nuts.
The word literally means “little twists” in Yiddish. However, after making and trying the rugelach recipe from The Old Farmer’s Almanac Everyday Baking cookbook, the translation seems to have changed a little to mean “heaven in cookie form” to us!
It’s fun to make rugelach and very satisfying!
To see instructions and pictures of us making this festive treat, read our cooking blog on rugelach.
Using an electric mixer, preferably a large stand model, cream the butter and cream cheese until soft and smooth. Beat in the salt and sugar. Blend in the flour, on low speed or with a wooden spoon, about ½ cup at a time, incorporating each measure before the next one is added. Scrape the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into thirds. Shape each portion into a rectangle about ½-inch thick. Wrap separately in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1-½ to 2 hours, or until firm.
While the dough chills, put the walnuts, raisins, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt into a food processor. Pulse the mixture repeatedly, until everything is coarsely chopped. Add the butter and continue to pulse until the mixture is finely chopped and still separate (not clumpy). Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate.
Working with one piece of dough at a time, roll the dough into the best 12x7-inch rectangle you can manage on a sheet of lightly floured waxed paper or parchment paper. (If the dough gets too soft and delicate at any point, slide it onto a small baking sheet and refrigerate for 10 to 20 minutes, until it firms up and becomes easier to handle and roll.) Trim all of the edges with a pastry cutter or paring knife, removing as little dough as possible. Stir the preserves briskly, to smooth. Spread one third of the preserves evenly over the dough, leaving a ½-inch border on all sides. Sprinkle one-third of the nut filling onto the dough evenly. Press the nuts gently, to embed.
Starting along one of the long sides and using the paper to help you, roll up the dough like a carpet. Keep it snug, but not too tight or you’ll force the filling out at the seam. Pinch the ends to seal. Wrap the filled dough in the paper and refrigerate. Repeat for the remaining two pieces of dough. Refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line one or two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Unwrap one log at a time and brush lightly with the egg wash. Using a sharp serrated knife, slice the log into ¾-inch-thick pieces. Roll the pieces in the cinnamon sugar and place them on the baking sheet, spiral side up, leaving 2 inches in between. Bake one sheet at a time on the center oven rack for 25 minutes. Cool the cookies on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a rack to finish cooling.