Every week when I come to write my post I feel like I'm repeating myself. Inevitably at some point I'll have to go back to check if I've used the phrase "these come together in no time" or "this takes no time to prepare" too recently. This week is different. This cookie - while certainly not difficult in any way - is a little bit more complicated than the usual mix-a-batter-and-drop-by-spoonfuls-onto-the-baking-sheet type of affair. There's more of a process involved. But I'm here to tell you it's totally worth it. I had rugelach for the first time at Zabar's (which for my money is every bit as good as any museum by way of cultural experience) in New York, when I was looking for something small and sweet to accompany my mid-morning coffee. I probably didn't know how to pronounce it (and still kind of don't) but just pointed dumbly at one of the little rolled cookies in the display case. Biting into it, I tasted fruit and nuts and jam and some sort of tang in the crumb that beautifully cut through the intense sweetness. It was chewy and sticky and, in its elegant swirl, a thing of great beauty. I was so absorbed in my enjoyment of it all that I almost missed seeing Bill Cunningham (the eternally youthful, 80-something fashion photographer for The New York Times and subject of a great documentary) ride by on his bike. I was not photo-worthy but had he seen the rugelach, he surely would have stopped. But it was too late. I'd eaten it all.
From the ever-reliable Smitten Kitchen, via the Sweet on You Bakery
The actual preparation of this cookie takes no time at all (I obviously have a cooking philosophy and it seems to be defined by laziness), it's the two-phase chilling that's time-consuming. I often prepare the dough and filling the night before, so that it doesn't feel like your whole day is consumed by cooking. The assembly of the logs and slicing them into rounds is pretty straight-forward but if you'd like a visual aid, click here to see them being prepared on The Martha Stewart Show. Don't be deterred if the dough, when you're rolling it, starts to break apart. It will be coaxed back together easily with the heat of your fingertips. You'll have leftover cinnamon sugar topping mixture - don't throw it out, it keeps well and you can use it for next time you're making these. And mark my words, if you make them once, you will make them again.
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
2 cups sifted flour
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup raisins, chopped
1 cup finely chopped walnuts
1/2 cup apricot jam, heated and cooled slightly
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Place cream cheese and butter in the bowl of a food processor and process til smooth and creamy. Add sugar and continue processing until fully incorporated. Add flour and pulse til dough comes together, adding more flour if necessary. Divide dough into 2 equal pieces, wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least two hours.
Meanwhile, make filling. In a medium bowl, mix together sugars, cinnamon, raisins and walnuts. Set aside.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out 1 piece of dough into a rectangle about 1/8 inch thick. Spread a thin layer of apricot jam over dough; sprinkle with half of the filling mixture. Roll dough into a log beginning with one of the long sides; wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate. Repeat with the remaining piece of dough. Let chill at least one hour.
Preheat oven to 350 deg F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside. Mix together the cinnamon with the sugar for the topping and set aside.
Slice chilled dough logs crosswise, about 1/4 inch thick. Toss each cookie in the cinnamon sugar mixture. Place cookies 3 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Bake til lightly browned, 18-20 minutes. Lift parchment paper from baking sheet and transfer to a wire cooling rack.