Rugelach to the Rescue!

Politics got you down? Dispirited by a landscape of straw, grey brown, dull green and dirty snow? Feeling slightly guilty because you didn’t happen to make your sweetie a chocolate cream pie for Valentine’s  Day?

Time for a batch of rugelach, one of the world’s more wonderful cookies – being as they are right next door to pie while being a great deal easier to make ( and a great deal more durable since they never get soggy).

plum, chocolate and apricot rugelach

plum, chocolate and apricot rugelach

The most common recipe comes from cookie genius Maida Heatter, whose formula for the rich crisp flaky crust is so widely disseminated it’s part of our pastry DNA. But plenty of bakers go with Jewish food authority Joan Nathan, whose version is drier and sweeter. In the spirit of bipartisanship, this one splits the difference.

For from 32 large to 84 mini cookies ( no harm in making an assortment of sizes):

Dough: 2 c. all purpose flour

½ tsp. salt

¼ c. confectioners sugar

1 cup butter, firm but not hard

8 ounces cream cheese

1 tsp. lemon juice

Topping: 1 beaten egg

Sugar or pearl sugar ( available from specialty suppliers like King Arthur Flour)

Filling(s): any flavor of jam or fruit puree, chopped bittersweet chocolate,  spiced sugar and chopped nuts… as long as it’s firm enough not to run it’s fine.

fillings, clockwise: apricot, plum, pecan and maple sugar, bittersweet chocolate from Michel Cluizel

fillings, clockwise: apricot, plum, pecan and maple sugar, 70% chocolate chips from Michel Cluizel

1. Put one cup of the flour, the salt and the confectioners sugar in a processor fitted with the steel blade and pulse a few times to blend. Cut the butter and cream cheese into chunks about an inch square and drop them onto the flour mixture.

2. Sprinkle on the lemon juice, then the remaining cup of flour. Pulse repeatedly until you have a soft , clumpy, more or less homogenous, slightly sticky dough. A few small bits of butter and/or cream cheese may remain visible, but there shouldn’t be many.

3. Dump the dough out on a sheet of plastic wrap and shape it into a roll about 2 ½ ” in diameter and 8” long. Fold the wrap around it tightly and refrigerate at least 8 hours, up to 3 days. ( Or form it into 4 disks and wrap individually.)

4. At baking time, heat the oven to 350. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or foil. Cut off ¼  of the roll , place that disk between 2 pieces of waxed paper and return the rest to the fridge.

5. Roll the dough into a roughly 10 inch circle. For once having the edges a little thinner than the center is fine. Refrigerate or freeze just long enough to re-firm the dough.

6. Peel off one sheet of paper, then replace it lightly. Turn dough over and remove the second sheet of paper. If using only one filling, spread it over the circle before cutting into 8 or more triangles. Otherwise, cut the dough first and then apply fillings. Roll each triangle wide end to point and place on baking sheets, point side down, well apart. They don’t spread but keeping them separated helps them brown evenly. 

This is pearl sugar - available from specialty shops like King Arthur Flour

This is pearl sugar, which stays crunchy and looks spiffy. But granulated is fine.

7. Repeat rugelach formation with remaining dough. Brush tops with beaten egg and sprinkle with sugar. Bake until dark gold, 18 to 25 minutes depending on size and oven. The egg drips and bottoms always get much darker than the tops. Don’t worry about it; they don’t taste burned unless you really incinerate them. 

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  • Thank you for mentioning us as a source for pearl sugar. I like how you demonstrate how to have all these different flavors from one recipe.

  • PJ Hamel Said,

    Yeah, what Joan said… Leslie – how goes it? I just bought The New England Epicure on – great memories (great recipes). Are you well? Yours in Wednesday deadlines with Doug Hall and the linotype… PJH

  • leslie Said,


    How nice to hear from you. Been seeing you in the King Arthur catalog for lo these many years; thinking it must be suiting you well and I certainly hope that’s true.

    Happy to say I’m fine – in fact even finer than before now that I’m out of newspapers and into writing about food again without having to give up the garden part of the equation.

    Just by coincidence our long ago days at the Camden Herald have been close to the front of my mind lately because of having to rummage through old clippings. All I can say is never mind the linotype; it feels like we were inscribing the thing on clay tablets.

    A pleasure to hear the New England Epicure has joined your library… Hope now that you’ve found the blog you’ll visit again soon.

  • Bramble Said,

    Thanks for the recipe and reminder of just how good these are!
    It’s nice to see you too combine the best of what you like in recipes and make them your own. I do that too but not always with the most stellar results! Thanks for the test run!
    Hope all finds you well and dreaming of greener days to come!
    I can’t wait to plant my peas next month! Hope you have sunny days!

  • leslie Said,

    Hi Bramble

    Stellar results never guaranteed, in my experience… but in this case the original Heatter recipe (no sugar or lemon, different mixing technique) is so close to ironclad it’s almost impossible to go wrong.

    Green dreams all around. Thanks for the reminder that pea planting is on the horizon and may the sun shine on you too.

  • Hi Leslie-
    I tasted my first rugelach when I met my husband Larry, (I nice Jewish boy) at his mom’s house during a holiday get together. They remind me of empanadas in a way, (a filled pastry). Let’s just say, I’ve enjoyed a few too many in my day!

    Apricot rules!

  • Hussain Ali Al-Saber Said,


    How are you I visited your website and I hope the cooperation of business it is possible to send all recipes to my email

    Yours faithfully

    Al-Qassim Corner for Sweets
    Dirab Road, Al-Shiffa, Al-Marwa
    P.O. Box 37106, Riyadh 11439
    Saudi Arabia
    Tel. # +966 1 4202869 / 4201721
    Fax # +966 1 4201697 / 4202830
    Email: alqassimsweets@yahoo

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