Monday, September 6, 2010

Sweet Talk for the Holidays- Rugelach

 The Jewish New Year begins later this week, and tradition reigns- at least my tradition.  There are two things I like to bake every year,  Teddie's Apple Cake (previously on this blog) and rugelach.  Rugelach are wonderful, flaky and bite-size pastries- a little labor intensive, but you can make a great deal at once and freeze them if you do not want to serve them all at once.  I have tired various recipes over the years, cream cheese doughs and this sour cream dough, but this is my favorite.  This dough is really easy to work with and rolls out smoothly.  I like this cinnamon, nut, raisin filling the best, but some people make rugelach with apricot jam in addition to the cinnamon nut mixture.  Happy New Year!

Walnut Horns (a.k.a. Rugelach)
from Maida Heatter's Brand-New Book of Great Cookies

Pastry Dough
8 ounces unsalted butter
1 egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sour cream
finely grated rind of 2 cold and firm lemons
2 cups sifted unbleached flour

8 ounces (2 1/4 cups walnuts) cut into small, even pieces
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 cup currants or raisins (optional)

1 egg white
crystal sugar

Pastry Dough: Place butter in a small saucepan over moderate heat to melt it, and then set aside.  In the large bowl of an electric mixer beat the egg yolk, salt, sour cream, and grated lemon rind to mix.  Add the melted butter (which may still be warm or even hot) and the flour and beat to mix, scraping the bowl as necessary with a rubber spatula.  The mixture will appear uneven (and look curdled). Just place the bowl in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes and stir to mix once or twice. It will become smooth.  Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces, form each piece into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap, and then flatten slightly.  Refrigerate overnight- or you can place in the freezer for 1/2 hour and then in the refrigerator for an hour.

Filling: In a small bowl mix the sugar, cinnamon, cocoa, nutmeg and ginger.  Set aside. Mix nuts and currants or raisins in separate bowl and set aside.

     When you are ready to shape and bake the rugelach, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil, shiny side up.  Flour a pastry cloth and rolling pin.  Place one ball of dough on the cloth and with the rolling pin, pound it firmly to soften a bit.  Roll out the dough to a 12 inch circle.  Sprinkle with one-fourth (about 3 tablespoons) of the sugar mixture.  Then sprinkle with one-fourth of the nut mixture (about 1/2 cup), keeping the nuts away from the center of the circle.  With the rolling pin, roll over the filling to press the ingredients slightly into the dough.  Cut the circle into 16 wedges using a knife or pastry wheel.  Roll each wedge, jelly roll fashion, rolling from the outside to the point.  Place the little rolls, points down, 1 inch apart on the cookie sheet.
      In a small bowl beat the egg white just until foamy.  With a pastry brush, brush over the top of the rugelach.  Sprinkle with the crystal sugar.  Bake one sheet at a time for about 25 minutes, until lightly browned, reversing the sheet from front to back once during baking.  Remove from oven and transfer to a rack to cool.  ((post by Susan))

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