I've only ever tried rugelach* once, from Solly's Bagels in Vancouver, but I was instantly smitten. It's all T.'s fault.
She and I met in Grade 2. I don't recall the circumstances, but the important part is that we're still friends 22 years later. We parted ways after high school and haven't lived in the same city—and sometimes not even the same country or continent—since. Now that I'm in Vancouver and she's in Seattle, we're the closest we've been in awhile (despite the border).
T. introduced me to Solly's after discovering the Broadway location on her bus ride home from university. Because it's a fun area to shop and because we love bagels and, more importantly, the cream cheese that goes on top, Solly's quickly became a regular lunch stop after a morning of shopping. Often we'd share a slice of chocolate babka** to finish. Always she'd buy a little bag of rugelach to take home to her mom.
The first time I opened Bonnie Stern's Essentials of Home Cooking about 5 years ago, this recipe for rugelach jumped out at me right away. You'd think, then, that it would have been one of the first things I tried. Wrong. Flipping through my newly unpacked cookbooks the other day for inspiration, there it was. Still looking up at me, still begging to be made.
With a trip south to visit T., her R., and their new twins in the works, it seemed like a sign. Simple yet deliciously flaky pastry crusted in all sorts of spiced sugary goodness. These rugelach are undoubtedly at their crunchiest on day 1, but their flavour only improves over time.
If I had to do it over, I wouldn't wait 5 years. Consider this your sign.
* If they spell it rugoleh, does it even count?
** I've really got to give Smitten Kitchen's chocolate babka a go.
Apricot Nut Rugelach
2 cups flour
1 cup butter, cut in cubes and chilled
1 cup cream cheese, cut in cubes and chilled
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup toasted walnuts, finely chopped
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup apricot jam
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup coarse sugar
In a food processor, pulse the butter into the flour until crumbly. Add the cream cheese and pulse until the mixture forms a dough. Be careful not to overprocess! Divide the dough into 4 balls and wrap each tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for a few hours or overnight.
In the meantime, combine the brown sugar, pecans and cinnamon in a small bowl. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
When the dough is thoroughly chilled, roll the first ball into a 10-inch circle. Spread the circle with 2 tablespoons of jam and then sprinkle 1/4 of the brown sugar mixture on top.
Cut the circle into 12 equal wedges. Roll up each wedge from the wide end.
Place the finished cookies on the prepared baking sheet.
Brush with the beaten egg and sprinkle the coarse sugar on top.
Bake for 20-25 minutes or until browned and crusty.
Yields 48 cookies.
Notes: The recipe calls for pecans and raspberry jam, but I substituted walnuts and an apricot/peach/pineapple concoction from W. that I had on hand. The result was so tasty, I can't imagine ever using anything but!
Source: Bonnie Stern's Essentials of Home Cooking.