Rugelach perfection

February 28th, 2011  |  19 Comments


This recipe comes from the stunning Sarabeth’s Bakery: From My Hands to Yours by Sarabeth Levine (written with Rick Rodgers. Don’t miss the great interview with Rick here). You know something is really good when you wish you could have written it yourself.

The recipes are from Sarabeth Levine’s famed bakery on the Upper West Side and they are first rate. With photos so lush and tempting, it’s easy to get lost in the pages. I sat for a while, carefully flipping this coffee-table worthy volume, eating with my eyes. Ooo, just look at this Raspberries and Cream Charlotte.


Oooh, ooh, and these Black Beauty Cupcakes.

And the graphic designer in me couldn’t help but notice how elegantly it was all laid out. I have to say, this book deserves some shelf space in any cookbook collection.

Settling on the first recipe was dizzying, but in the end, my love of cream cheese dough won out. Rugelach it was. And this rendition was exactly what I hoped for — perfectly light and tender, with just a whisper of sweetness.


adapted from Sarabeth’s Bakery: From My Hands to Yours
makes 36 cookies

These keep for about 5 days when stored in an airtight container at room temperature.

For the dough:

2 sticks (226 g) unsalted butter
8 oz (227 g) cream cheese
2 tablespoons (25 g) superfine sugar  (I couldn’t find superfine, so I used regular ol’ sugar)
1/2 teaspoon (a few drops) pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon (pinch) of salt
2 1/4 cups (320 g) all-purpose flour
about 1/2 cup of apricot or raspberry preserves (I used apricot)
powdered sugar, for dusting the rugelach

For the filling:
1/4 cup (28 g) walnuts
1 tablespoon (12 g) superfine sugar (I couldn’t find superfine, so I used regular ol’ sugar)
1 tablespoon (12 g) light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon (3 g) dutch-processed cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon (3 g) ground cinnamon


First, the dough. Here’s the stuff.


Make sure that cream cheese and butter have been sitting on your counter for an hour before creaming, because they need to be at room temperature. Otherwise, getting them smooth will be a devil of a time.


Paddle on medium speed until smooth. I’m not trying to whip them or beat air in, only cream them, hence the medium speed.


You know I’m a stickler for scraping down the bowl, for even mixing.


Now that it’s smooth, I add in the vanilla extract…


…and sugar…

and give that a quick stir with the paddle.

Next, I drop in half the flour…


Give that a slow stir, until mostly incorporated.


Then throw in the rest of the flour.


And another slow stir. I’m so paranoid about overmixing, and ending up with a gluey dough, I stop the machine before the dough’s fully together. The rest I do by hand.


I scrape the contents onto a lightly floured surface. Still crumbly, but…


…after 5 or 6 smooshes, it comes together very easily. (My cutting board is beginning to look like Harry Potter’s forehead.)


Here’s the finished dough, all in one lump.


Divvy it up into 3 pieces. I just eyeballed it. Wrap well in plastic and refrigerate at least 2 hours. Or overnight. This allows the butter to firm up, the flour absorbs all the moisture, and the glutens relax for easier rolling.


While waiting for glutens to relax, we’ll mix up the filling. Here are the filling bits.


FINELY, chop up those walnuts. Don’t tell anyone, but mine looks like more than 1/4 cup. I love me some walnuts.


Everything goes in a small bowl, including nuts, both sugars, cocoa and cinnamon.


I work it with my fingers, since the brown sugar is moist and doesn’t want to play with others.

Set filling aside. Now’s a good time for some online shoe shopping.

It’s 2 hours later. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Let’s roll some dough. I started with the first piece on a lightly floured surface. And a little flour on top for good measure.


Next time, I would let the disks rest on the counter for 10 minutes before rolling, because as you can see, mine was so cold, it cracked around the edges. Still, no big whoop.


I rolled it very thinly. This dough is a breeze to work with. The diameter ended up being around 14 inches.


Plop on a couple of generous tablespoons of preserves.


And spread it around. I used an offset metal spatula. At first, it may seem like there is not enough jam to cover the dough, but keep pushing it around. It has to be thin, or it will ooze all over the place when you roll up the cookies. I learned the hard way. Notice the edges are jam-free and so is the 2-inch area in the center.


Sprinkle on 1/3 of the nut mix.


And cut. First cut into quarters. Then cut each quarter into 3 wedges. I used my handy pizza cutter (which I wish I could use every day because it’s so fun), but any knife will do.


We’re in the home stretch. Tuck the top corners in…


…and roll the cookie. No need to get it really tight, or the filling may ooze out. Just use your everyday, natural dough-rolling instincts, if there is such a thing.


Numero uno, done! If you get jam on your hands, clean it off between rolls. Whatever ends up on the ouside of the cookies may burn.


With the point facing down, coax the cookie into a crescent shape.


Sit them down, about an inch apaprt, on a parchment lined baking sheet.

Sure, the ones above look swell, but they came with a little practice. I was getting the hang of it by the second disk.

My first rolled disk wasn’t quite up to snuff. Not only did I not roll it thinly enough, the circle wasn’t wide enough. This resulted in stumpy cookies, which didn’t get enough curls when rolled. One sad loop. Sniff.


Poor, poor rugelach step-children. With sloppy filling. But make no mistake. I still baked them off and gobbled them up without batting an eye.


Back to the good rugelach. Into the oven they went for about 25-30 minutes, until golden brown.


Ooh, so pretty.


I forgot to take a picture of where I dust them with powdered sugar, but it’s simple. Pour a little  in a fine mesh sieve, and tap over the tray of cookies. Indulge and read.



adapted from Sarabeth’s Bakery: From My Hands to Yours
makes 36 cookies

For the dough:

2 sticks (226 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
8 oz (227 g) cream cheese, room temperature
2 tablespoons (25 g) superfine sugar  (I couldn’t find superfine, so I used regular ol’ sugar)
1/2 teaspoon (a few drops) pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon (pinch) of salt
2 1/4 cups (320 g) all-purpose flour
about 1/2 cup of apricot or raspberry preserves (I used apricot)
powdered sugar, for dusting the rugelach

For the filling:
1/4 cup (28 g) walnuts, very finely chopped
1 tablespoon (12 g) superfine sugar (I couldn’t find superfine, so I used regular ol’ sugar)
1 tablespoon (12 g) light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon (3 g) dutch-processed cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon (3 g) ground cinnamon

Make the dough:

1. Cream the butter and cream cheese in a standing mixer, on medium speed, until smooth.

2. Stir in vanilla extract and sugar.

3. Mix in half the flour on slow speed until just barely incorporated, and then mix in the other half.

4. Turn the dough out on a lightly floured surface, and knead for about 10 seconds to ensure that everything comes together.

5. Divide the dough into 3 pieces, form into 1 inch disks, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Mix the filling:

1. In a small bowl, stir together the walnuts, sugar, light brown sugar, cocoa powder and cinnamon. Set aside.

Assemble the cookies:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2. On a lightly floured surface, roll one disk of dough out very thinly, about 1/8 inch, and a 14″ diameter.

3. Spread about 2 tablespoons of preserve around the surface, leaving clear about an inch around the edges, and two inches in the center.

4. Sprinkle on 1/3 of the nut mix.

5. Using a pizza cutter or a sharp knife, cut the dough into quarters. Then cut each quarter into 3 wedges.

6. Started at the wide end, tuck the corners of one wedge in about 1/4 inch, and then roll up. No need to roll too tight, or the filling may squeeze out. Try not to get filling on the outside of the cookie, or it may burn.

7. Place each cookie on a parchment lined cookie sheet, about an inch apart, with the point facing down. Curve the ends of the rugelach slightly towards the point to make a crescent shape.

8. Bake until golden about 25-30 minutes. Allow to cool on the sheet pans, and dust lightly with confectioners sugar.

These keep for about 5 days when stored in an airtight container at room temperature.

19 Responses to “Rugelach perfection”

  1. Zo says:

    Wow, my rugelach did not look nearly that delicious! Will have to give this dough a try, the pastry actually looks like pastry. I suppose you could use the dough like an easier-to-use sweet shortcrust or for a free form tart…?

    Also, the dough-being-too-cold-to-roll thing seems to constantly plague me with all recipes that advise to “refrigerate for two hours, then roll out”. Maybe it’s too dry where I am, but the dough is almost always too solid, and it cracks and crumbles and then I declare I will never make the thing again. Will def try letting it sit for a bit next time…usually I just let it sit, covered, until totally room temperature again.

  2. PastryPal says:

    Yes, you could use this dough as a crust for a tart, like one of those fold-over crusts over fruit fillings. They’re so rustic and pretty. Something plum and ginger comes to mind.

    I know what you mean about the too-cold dough. I’m always so impatient to get my dough rolled out, I tend to roll it too cold. I suppose it doesn’t matter in the end. Rolling cold dough gives me biceps.

  3. Linda Murray says:

    Thanks for such a great interview with Rick Rodgers. I have followed him for years, on TV, through classes and his cookbooks. He is a wonderful professional and his recipes always work. I can’t wait to try the rugelach. Thanks for the pictures. Mine always taste good, but never look so nice.

  4. Deanna says:

    Sarabeth’s Bakery is such a beautiful cookbook! When we were visiting NYC in December, we visited the bakery and saw the cookbooks on display. My husband bought one of the signed cookbooks as my Christmas present and we bought rugelach and linzer cookies to nibble on. So far I’ve only tried the Blueberry Crumb Muffins from the book and they were delicious! Her instructions for laminated doughs look great too, but I guess I’m waiting for Pastry Pal to show me how to make croissants and give me the confidence to try them again! :)

  5. PastryPal says:

    Linda—I’m glad you enjoyed it. He does have a storyteller’s way about him. I found out accidentally how well his recipes work. I was cooking from one of his books often because I trusted the recipes, without even realizing it was him.

    Deanna — That is one thoughtful husband and he knew exactly when to pounce on a great gift.

    I tell ya, this book is keeping me up at night. I just keep looking it over. Everything looks superb.

  6. Mrs Ergül says:

    This looks so good!! And I have lots of cream cheese in the fridge! So gonna make the dough tonight! Love the photo of the mis en place for the filling!!!!!! Love the lighting!

  7. PastryPal says:

    As always, let me know how you like them. And thanks for the photo compliment, means a lot coming from you.

  8. Your “ruggie”s are perfect. The dough looks fabulous and I love the photos. Thank you so much for selecting my book as part of your post and for sharing my recipe with your readers. The technique shots are very well done and your baking is very professional looking and precise. So important in our craft. Could you please tell me what camera you are using. Your photos are the best. Love your blog and will be following you forever.-Sarabeth

  9. Irene says:

    THANK YOU for this recipe and tutorial! I’ve only made rugelach once and the dough was so horribly difficult that I’ve never made them again. But I love rugelach and I love cream cheese dough! But it was such a nightmare to work with that lots of cursing happened… you can see the dilemma. I’m going to try again with this recipe!

  10. PastryPal says:

    Sarabeth, Thank you for stopping by my blog. I’m thrilled to have you here! I never would have thought to give rugelach a nickname, but now I can’t get it out of my mind :).

    The camera I have is the less popular Sony a300 brand with the kit micro lens. It’s a low-end DSLR and I admit I have to fight with it. My photographer friend says I should have bought a Canon, and I’m actually considering it.

  11. PastryPal says:

    Irene, I’ve had finicky cream cheese doughs before but this one was so easy, it practically rolled itself. I think you’ll be happy with it.

  12. I’ve been wanting to try rugelach for a long time. Thanks for posting this great recipe and your usual excellent step-by-step photos. I’m going to read the interview with Rick soon too!

  13. Michelle says:

    You did a lovely job with these. They are beautiful.

  14. You make everything look so easy, Irina. The rugelach look delicious. I have a request – a tutorial on laminated doughs please?

  15. Blankie Monster says:

    Forget my request for something nostalgic! this is what mama used to make all the time when I was little except she used blended cottage cheese instead of cream cheese and she filled the rugelach with ground nuts and honey paste. No wonder my face is permanently round. Every self-respecting Jewish bakery in our city carries rugelach and charges a queen’s ransom for it…and I gladly fork out the cash. Great post! Cream cheese dough makes me forget that I am a total handicap with dough rolling, definite confidence booster for newbie bakers.

  16. faaique says:

    WoW!!! it was awesome

  17. Siir says:

    I tryed it yesterday and I am very happy with the result! Every piece came up out of oven beatifully and delicious. I divided the dough to three pieces: The first one was filled with cooked apple and sugar, second batch was chocolate chips and the third one was with nuts. All of them were so sadisfing but my favorite is apple.

  18. olivia says:

    Have made it twice already! First time, I made some for my brother’s house-warming party and they were a huge hit (people were going in for seconds, thirds, fourths, etc). The second time, I made them for my parents b/c they had complained that only had 2 to try at my brother’s party. They were gone w/in a day!

  19. Lena says:

    Thank you for sharing your recipe. These were my grandmother’s specialty, although I was always too stubborn and impatient to stick around for her to teach me. My favorite part about her’s was that the inside contained little dough and more filling, which means she probably filled or wrapped them differently than you do. Any suggestions on how to do that? They never came out sloppy with the filling coming out, just were compact with filling inside. Any way, thanks, I’ll try how you do it!

Post a Comment

Your E-Mail will be kept private. * = required fields.