Baklava Rugelach

Paula Shoyer Recipe By
  • Cooking and Prep: 8 h
  • Serves: 30
  • Contains:

Jewish dessert history is often divided between Ashkenazi and Sephardi traditions. The Ashkenazi sweets are drier and cake-like and the Sephardic desserts are often sticky.  After generations of geographic separation between the two groups, today, for the most part, our communities include families with both Eastern European and North African or Middle Eastern members. 

 

This intermarriage has often resulted in meals with blended traditions. As for desserts, however, I have found that they typically fall within one camp or another. Today I present the marriage between Ashkenazi and Sephardi dessert traditions. 

 

Baklava, a dessert of layered filo dough and nuts, originated in Turkey and was spread throughout the Middle East by the Ottoman Empire. It was originally considered the dessert of only the rich, as nuts and honey were pricey. The first documented recipe of a similar dessert was in the year 1330. Today it is part of the cuisine of the Arab world, the Balkans, as well as Iran, Greece, Afghanistan, Georgia, Bulgaria, Albania, and beyond.

 

Rugelach originated from eastern European Ashkenazi Jews and was likely brought to America from Hungarian or Polish immigrants. Crescent-shaped pastries are said to have been created to celebrate the defeat of the Turks in Vienna, but most historians believe that the dessert dates back earlier. The Yiddish name means twists. Rugelach are made with yeast or cream cheese and are shaped either into crescents or small squares. They have become a mainstream cookie in a large part of America, and you can find them in most delis and bakeries, whether Jewish or not.

 

There are two ways to make rugelach. The time-consuming way is to roll out circles of dough, fill, and then cut triangles and roll them up one at a time, shaping them into a crescent. The easier option is to roll out rectangles of dough, fill as desired and then roll up into a long roll, bake, and then slice them after baking. Some bakeries slice them into squares before baking. The filling more easily stays inside the rolls of dough and it is so much faster to prepare a large amount than to shape each cookie individually. 

 

Some rugelach get dry; avoid that by serving them with the syrupy glaze. If it is your minhag not to eat the nuts listed below on Rosh Hashanah, see the variations for more ideas. 


Makes 60 to 70 pieces           

 

Ingredients (14)

Dough

Filling

Glaze

Start Cooking

Make the Dough

  1. Place margarine, cream cheese, flour, confectioners’ sugar, and orange blossom water into the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle or a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Mix just until dough comes together.

  2. Divide dough in half and wrap each piece in plastic wrap and flatten. Freeze overnight. Let thaw until you can press it in a little.  

Make the Filling

  1. Place the almonds, cashews, pistachios, and sugar into the bowl of a food processor and chop into small pieces, no larger than one-third inch. May be made two days in advance.

Assemble and Bake

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

  2. To roll out the dough, place a 10- by 15-inch or larger sheet of Gefen Easy Baking Parchment Paper on the counter. Sprinkle with flour and place one dough disc on the parchment. Sprinkle with more flour and then top with a second sheet of parchment. Roll on top of the parchment to roll out the dough until it is 10 by 15 inches. Peel back the top parchment often while rolling and sprinkle some more flour on the dough. Remove the top parchment but reserve to cover the second disc of dough.

  3. Spread half the jam evenly on the dough all the way to the edges. Sprinkle half of the nut and sugar mixture over the jam. 

  4. Fold the short sides of the dough one-half to three-fourths of an inch in toward the center to keep the filling inside. Using the parchment to help you, roll up the long side, working slowly and rolling as tightly as you can. The seam should be on the bottom. Slide the roll and parchment onto a baking sheet. Repeat with the second piece of dough and place on the parchment a few inches away from the first roll.

  5. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the top is golden brown. 

Tip:

If the dough gets too soft while rolling, place the whole packet of dough and parchment back in the freezer to firm up for 10–15 minutes.

To Serve

  1. While the rolls are baking, make the glaze. Bring sugar, lemon juice, and water to boil in a small saucepan over high heat. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook uncovered for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the orange blossom water and stir. Pour into a bowl to cool and set aside.

  2. When the rolls are baked, pour some glaze over the top, reserving the rest.

  3. Let rolls cool and then slice into one-inch pieces. Serve warm or at room temperature with the remaining glaze alongside.

Note:

You can freeze the slices or the complete rolls (easiest) and then thaw and slice them when ready to serve. Store covered with plastic or in an airtight container at room temperature for up to five days or freeze for up to three months.

Variation:

The beauty of rugelach is the infinite ways in which you can change the dough and filling. I like to make each roll using different color jam so I can alternate colors on a platter.

 

• Dough: Omit the orange blossom water in the recipe below and use vanilla for a more neutral-flavored dough. You can also use any other extract such as almond, coffee, or mint, or any liquor to flavor the dough.

 

• Filling: Any kind of jam may be spread on the dough. Today you can find jam made out of every fruit and flower. Any type of chopped nut made be added, as well as chocolate, caramel, peanut butter, or other-flavored chip or chunk. Coconut and dried fruit of any kind may be chopped and added as well. You can sprinkle cinnamon, nutmeg, brown sugar, or other flavored sugar on top. Be careful not to overstuff the dough, which makes it harder to roll and takes longer to bake. For each disc of dough (half the recipe), add about half a cup of jam and then no more than one and a half cups of nuts, dried fruit, or chips.

 

• Dairy version: Substitute butter and dairy cream cheese (not the whipped kind). If making a dairy version, omit the extra two tablespoons flour in the dough.

 

•Size: You can make mini rugelach if you divide the dough into four pieces and roll and fill as directed. 

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