Rugalach (other spellings: rugulach, ruggalach, rogelach, rugalah, rugala) is a Jewish pastry and the name is a Yiddish diminutive form of the Hebrew meaning “creeping vine” perhaps because of the rolled-up shape of the cookie. It can be made with a cream cheese dough, though the dough is more typically pareve (no dairy ingredients), so that it can be eaten with or after a meat meal and still be kosher. The different fillings can include raisins, walnuts, cinnamon, chocolate, marzipan, poppy seed or apricot preserves which are rolled up inside. Rugelach is a traditional Jewish food that is eaten any time of year, including, but not limited to Shabbat. It is not traditional on Hanukkah because it is not fried in oil. Serve these warm for maximum enjoyment.
2 cups flour
1/2 cup icing sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup cold butter
250g cream cheese, chilled
3/4 cup apricot jam
1/3 cup chopped almonds (optional)
Place flour, salt and icing sugar in a food processor and whirl until mixed. Cut butter and cream cheese into small cubes. Add to flour and pulse just until dough starts to come together. Form dough into 3 balls then flatten into discs. Wrap separately with cling film and refrigerate 30 minutes or up to 5 days (freeze up to 1 month). Remove dough from fridge and let stand until soft enough to roll. Preheat oven to 180c (350f). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place apricot jam in a bowl and microwave until its easy to spread (30 seconds or less).
On a lightly floured surface, using a rolling pin, roll 1 disc into 30cm (12 inch) circle. Spread 1/4 cup of jam evenly over the rolled out dough. Cut into 16 wedges. Beginning at wide end, tightly roll dough wedge up toward the point. Places crescents on baking sheet 2 inches apart. In a small bowl whisk egg and lightly brush over cookie. Then sprinkle with almonds (optional). Bake until golden 15 to 20 minutes. Cool and store in an airtight container in a cool place for up to 1 week or freeze up to 1 month.
The Culinary Chase’s Note: This was my first time making these and I have to say these little beauties are a definite repeater! Experiment with different flavorings and enjoy the outcome. Instead of using almonds, I sprinkled sugar on top of the egg wash before baking. I had some jam left over so I lightly brushed some the tops of the cookies with the jam followed by a sprinkling of sugar before baking. Use a pizza cutter to cut the wedges (it’s much easier than a knife). I used the cling film the pastry was wrapped in to help roll it out and I found that if the pastry got too warm it was more difficult to roll so leave the other discs in the fridge until ready to use. Happy Hanukkah!