Hello everyone! It’s been a little while, hasn’t it? Every time I take a two-week blogging break I use the same excuses: school, crazy schedules, and more school. What can I say? Life is waay too busy right now and I am doing my very best to keep up. That being said, I’ve got a ton of things on deck for this post!
Before we get to the main event, I just wanted to share that I got the chance to visit the Food52 Holiday Market in Union Square last weekend and had the absolute pleasure of meeting one of my inspirations Amanda Hesser. Of course I was completely tongue-tied, but thanks so much for taking a picture with me and attempting to decipher my incoherent sentences Amanda!
And now for…
I made these cookies for a very special cookie swap that I’ve been wanting to participate in since I found out about it last year. Organized by the lovely people at Love and Olive Oil and The Little Kitchen, this swap brings food bloggers from across the world together in support of Cookies for Kids Cancer. The premise is simple: Sign up and donate $4 (or more, if you choose to), receive the names and addresses of 3 other food bloggers, ship each of them a dozen cookies, and wait to get cookies from the 3 people who had you! This year’s swap had 476 participants in 6 countries and raised over $7,000. Crazy, right? If you have a food blog and want to get in on the fun next year, head on over to The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap website.
When I was trying to figure out what kind of cookies to make for the swap, I knew I wanted to use an old, classic recipe and turn it into something new and exciting. What better vehicle than my grandmother’s rugelach? Rugelach are a Jewish cookie, traditionally filled with cinnamon sugar and raisins. I decided to mix things up (and further complicate my life, you know, just because) by making 3 varieties: matcha with a black sesame filling (which I made by riffing off of a poppy seed filling recipe), “almond joy” with toasted coconut, almond paste filling and a chocolate drizzle, and last but not least a classic version. I’ll give you the latter recipe here, with notes on how to jazz it up and make the other flavors.
The recipe starts, as any good cookie recipe should, with buttah. Oh, and some cream cheese for good measure. Cream them until fluffy, then add in some sugar, salt and vanilla (almond extract is a nice addition if you’re making the almond joy version). Turn the mixer to low, then add in the flour along with any dry flavorings you might want, like toasted coconut or matcha.
That’s all there is to the dough! Now just gather it into a ball or disk, divide into quarters and wrap each with plastic wrap. Chill this for an hour.
When you’re ready to assemble your cookies, roll one of the quarters of dough out on a floured board until you get a 9-inch circle.
Now, you can use a plate or something to achieve a perfect circle or just leave it and call it a day. I won’t judge, I promise.
For the traditional rugelach, you’ll start by spreading on a layer of apricot preserves and then add a generous amount of cinnamon sugar and raisins. If you’re making the matcha version, use black sesame filling (recipe is below), and for the almond joy cookies, roll a chunk of almond paste into a very thin circle and place it on top of your dough round.
It’s rolling time! Now, the original recipe says to divide the dough into quarters initially and roll each to a 9-inch circle, cutting 12 equal wedges. But because I wanted to make 3 kinds of rugelach, I got out my kitchen scale and divided the batch into 3 and rolled my dough to slightly larger circles (which was much more trouble than I had anticipated considering the fact that aside from the butter and cream cheese creaming, I had to do each step separately for each dough. Don’t ask me why I do this to myself.) To make up for my larger rounds of dough, I cut 16 wedges.
So, long story short, you can cut the wedges as thin or thick as you want! I’d recommend cutting 12 of them if you’re making this the normal, sane way.
Once they’re all cut, roll your cookies from the edge of the wedge to the point and place them on a parchment or Silpat-lined baking sheet. Chill for 30 minutes, then brush the tops with egg wash. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar (if you’re making the raisin version), and pop ’em in a 350 F oven for 15-20 minutes…
Until they’re golden and gorgeous, like this!
Or green and gorgeous, I guess.
What a happy cookie family.
I finished the almond ones off with a drizzle of chocolate and some more toasted coconut, because why not?
Next it was time to pack everything up and ship these guys to the wonderful ladies at 30AEats, Be a Real Beauty, and Leah’s Life. I somehow managed to get these out about a week before the deadline, a pretty rare feat considering my extreme prowess as a procrastinator.
The treats I received were nothing short of amazing. Clockwise from top left, there were the buttery coconut pecan cookies from Susan at 30AEats, “Ambrosia Cookies” from Rebecca at It’s Not Easy Eating Green, chocolate chip orange peel from Sarah at Cooking Onions and kaffir lime macaroons from Camilla at Culinary Adventures with Camilla. Thanks everyone!
Classic Rugelach (see notes for variations)
from crumbsandnibbles.com, adapted from Ina Garten
Makes 4 dozen
For the dough:
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
For almond joy cookies:
6 tablespoons toasted unsweetened shredded coconut
Use only 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract and add in 1/2 teaspoon almond extract.
For matcha cookies:
4 1/2 teaspoons matcha powder
For the fillings:
For traditional cookies:
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3/4 cup raisins
1 cup walnuts, finely chopped
1/2 cup apricot preserves, puréed in a food processor
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon milk, for egg wash
For almond joy cookies:
1 7 oz. tube almond paste (not marzipan)
For matcha cookies:
1 batch black sesame filling (recipe below)
For the toppings:
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon of milk
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
For almond joy:
Melted chocolate, for drizzling
Extra toasted coconut, for sprinkling
Black sesame seeds, for sprinkling
- Cream butter and cream cheese until fluffy, then add in 1/4 cup sugar, salt and vanilla (substitute half for almond extract if making the almond joy version). Turn the mixer to low, then add in the flour along with any dry flavorings (toasted coconut or matcha).
- Gather the dough into a ball and divide into four equal pieces. Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
- If making the traditional cookies, combine the filling ingredients in a small bowl.
- Preheat the oven to 350 F. When you’re ready to assemble your cookies, roll one of the quarters of dough out on a floured board until you get a 9-inch circle.
- For the traditional rugelach, spread on a 2 tablespoons of apricot preserves and then add a generous amount of cinnamon sugar and raisin mixture. If you’re making the matcha version, spread on a good amount of black sesame filling (recipe is below), and for the almond joy cookies, roll a chunk of almond paste into a very thin circle and place it on top of your dough round.
- Cut the circle into 12 wedges and roll your cookies from the edge of the wedge to the point. Place them on a parchment or Silpat-lined baking sheet. Chill for 30 minutes, then brush the tops with egg wash. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar (if you’re making the raisin version) or sesame seeds (if making the matcha), and bake for 15-20 minutes.
- Cool on a wire rack. If you’re making the almond joy version, drizzle cooled cookies with chocolate and garnish with coconut. Enjoy!
Black Sesame Filling
Makes enough for 1 batch of cookies
1/2 cup whole milk
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 cup black sesame seeds, ground in a coffee grinder
Squeeze of lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 tablespoon butter
In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine milk, sugar and lemon zest. When the mixture is warm, add in the sesame seeds and cook until the mixture is thick, about 10-15 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice, vanilla and butter, then cook another 2 minutes. Remove from heat and cool completely before using.