Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Chocolate Raspberry Rugelach

Happy New Year!  Bring it on, 2014!

You know how much I love desserts with wow factor, and I have found that few cookies have it.  Cookies are great and bite-sized and delicious and fun to make, but rarely do people look at them in awe - except, of course, for these chocolate raspberry rugelach (and actually another recipe I will be sharing later this month!).  They are rolled up cookies, with raspberry jam and finely chopped chocolate and pecans peeking out, and are shiny and sparkly with coarse sugar sprinkled on top.  They are pretty but also delicious; the dough is a cream cheese-based dough, and the raspberry and chocolate seem to please all the dessert types, those who like fruity and those who like chocolate.  Add the pecans in there and there is something for everyone!

I made the dough the day before; it has to chill for 2 hours and I made them too late at night to do much of anything after that.  The next day, I rolled thirds of it out into a circle (okay, fine, into a sort-of-circle) and coated it with jam, then cinnamon-sugar, then chocolate, then nuts.  Then I used a pizza cutter to separate it into 16 slices, and rolled each one up from the bottom.  A quick egg wash and a sprinkling of sugar, and just under a half hour in the oven, and you have rugelach!  A little extra work, sure, but a great cookie to make at the holidays.  Just looking at them makes you feel festive.


chocolate raspberry rugelach  
from Deb Perelman's The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook

16 tablespoons (2 sticks) of unsalted butter, at room temperature
8 ounces (1 brick) cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon table salt
2 cups all-purpose flour

2/3 cup seedless raspberry jam
2/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons pecans, toasted and finely chopped (walnuts and almonds work as well)
1/2 cup finely chopped bittersweet chocolate or miniature chocolate chips

1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon water
coarse or sanding sugar, for sprinkling, or additional cinnamon-sugar


1) Make the dough: in the bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter and cream cheese together until they are light and fluffy.  In a medium bowl, combine the salt and flour, then pour flour mixture into the mixer.  Beat on a lower speed until the flour just disappears.  Scrape dough onto a large piece of plastic wrap and shape as best as you can into a flat packet.  Wrap well in plastic and chill in fridge for two hours or up to three days.  The dough can also be frozen for up to 2 months.

2) Prepare the baking sheets: line 3 large baking sheets with parchment paper.

3) Prepare the fillings: heat your jam in a small saucepan until it simmers.  This will loosen it, so it will be easier to spread thinly.  If your jam has seeds, you can push the warm jam through a fine-mesh strainer to remove them.  Set warm jam aside.

4) Grab 4 small dishes.  Stir together your cinnamon and sugar in one and set it aside.  In your second dish, put the pecans.  In your third bowl, put the chocolate.  In the last one, whisk together the egg yolk and water until it is smooth.  While you're getting organized, you'll also want to take out a rolling pin, flour for the counter, a small offset spatula or butter knife for spreading the jam, a knife or pastry wheel for cutting the dough, a spoon for the dry toppings, a large pier of waxed paper to help set the fillings, and a brush for the egg wash.

5) Assemble the rugelach: divide your chilled dough into thirds.  On a well-floured counter, roll the first third (the remaining two can go back into the fridge until needed) into a large, thin circle about 12 inches in diameter - but please, no need to trim the edges or fuss if it is slightly larger or smaller.

6) Spread two to three tablespoons of jam thinly onto the dough.  Sprinkle with 3 tablespoons cinnamon-sugar, 2 tablespoons chopped chocolate, and 1 tablespoon chopped nuts.  Use your piece of waxed paper to gently press the toppings into the dough so that they don't spill out once rolled.  You can set the paper aside for the remaining batches.  Use your knife to divide the dough into 16 wedges.  Roll each wedge tightly from the outside to the center.  Transfer the rugelach to the prepared baking sheet - keeping the pointed end of each rugelach tucked underneath - and space them 1 inch apart.  Pop the tray in the freezer for 15 minutes before baking.

7) Bake the rugelach: before baking, brush the rugelach with the egg yolk wash.  Sprinkle with coarse or sanding sugar or extra cinnamon-sugar.  Bake the rugelach for 20 to 25 minutes, until they are puffed and golden brown.  Transfer the rugelach to cooling racks while they are still hot - this is important because the jam that spills out will harden as it cools, making the cookies harder to remove from the paper.  Serve cooled or lukewarm.

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