It’s probably not very savvy of a foodie to admit this, but I’ve never tried rugelach before. Never had it, nor baked it. And quite possibly have never seen it except in pictures.
So, I think there’s some irony in here somewhere that the first time I bake it uses a recipe with more steps than my Mother’s magnificent Sunday dinners of my childhood.
This was two-day affair that used more pots, bowls and pans than I had room on my counters to hold.
G’uhness, it was, in fact, an event, people, the likes of which I haven’t experienced since I last made homemade lasagna completely from scratch (with homemade pasta and ricotta and sausage and tomato sauce).
At times, I felt like I was being karmically punished for baking so few celebratory cookies over the holidays. I’m sorry, Universe, I promise to do better this year! Just please let me get these things in the oven before April, okay?
But, if a girl is going to make rugelach for the first time, she could do far worse than doing so under the guidance of Julia Child and friends, via Baking with Julia, the cookbook Julia authored with the lovely Dorie Greenspan.
In all honesty, the process is easy. There’s just a lot of process. A lot. Here we go!
The cream cheese dough was just beautiful and came together quickly using a food processor.
Likewise, the fig compote I used as the filling — laced liberally with chocolate — was super easy, ready in 10 minutes.
It’s also amazing spooned over ice cream. Yessiree. Ice cream, figs and chocolate.
Wait, where was I? Right! Rugelach!
Just to make sure there was enough chocolate in the works, I sprinkled additional chips on top of the compote.
It was a chocolate kind of day.
I mean, days. Plural.
Tip: I’ve learned over the years that the secret to rolling up food — anything, whether desserts or burritos or wraps — is leave a good section of the final edge empty, as you see above. The filling is going squish forward as you roll (in this photo, you would be rolling right to left), and will fill in the empty area without oozing out of the seam. Word.
Tip, the Sequel: once rolled, I highly recommend chilling the filled dough, as clearly stated in the recipe’s instructions. The rolls will cut very cleanly after chilling and form perfect little rugelachs. I was too impatient, natch, and skipped the chill. Things were a little crooked and tilty.
See? Crooked and tilty. No matter — it all works out in the end.
BTW, it’s amusing to note that autocorrect on the iPad changes “rugelach” to “rug roach”. Glad I caught that before ya’ll did.
They’re not picture perfect, but the peeps didn’t care — they’re really good!
(Reality check: Not sure if they’re two-days’-effort good without some kind of driving force (like a holiday celebration), but, once I got a solid night’s sleep, I had a less jaded appreciation of them.)
The rugelach recipe we baked from calls for apricot or prune levkar for the filling, but, not being a particular fan of either, I went for figs and chocolate, and I include that recipe below. If you’re making it for the rugelach, just sub it straight up for the levkar.
If you’re spooning it over vanilla ice cream, don’t bother cooling it. Chocolate fig compote + melty vanilla ice cream = A. maz. ing.
Chocolate Fig Compote
fig compote inspired by “Good to the Grain” by Kim Boyce
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
1/2 pound dried figs
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
3 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate, chopped or in chip form
1. Reconstitute the figs by simmering them in water for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove to a plate and allow to cool. Remove the stems and chop coarsely.
2. Heat the remaining ingredients in a medium, oven-proof pan (such as a cast iron skillet) over medium-high until bubbly, stirring frequently.
3. Preheat the broiler.
4. Add the figs to the butter mixture and stir well to coat.
5. Place the pan under broiler and cook for about 5 minutes. Stir once or twice during that time to keep the figs from burning. Remove the compote to a bowl and stir in the chocolate until melted. Allow the mixture to cool to room temp before using in the rugelach.