Raspberry rugalach cookies
One of Israel’s most popular pastries gets a sweet, nutty filling.
Go into any good bakery in Israel – the kind of bakery where they pull fresh hand-made goods out of the oven several times a day – and alongside the bourekas and croissants, you’ll find rugalach. The tender pastry rolls are most often filled with chocolate spread, but sometimes they conceal a deliciously different jam filling in their folds. While rugalach are often yeasted, this unleavened version makes a delicate cookie.
Although any jam fits the recipe, I love raspberry jam best. Today, I baked rugalach cookies filled with raspberry jam and some toasted, ground walnuts. They didn’t last long around the house, especially when my teenager and a couple of her girlfriends came in, sniffing the wonderful fragrance of hot pastry and jam. It was a pleasure to serve them fresh rugalach and big cups of hot, milky coffee. Even better, they politely washed up for me afterward.
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup flour, and a few tablespoons extra if needed
- 3/4 cup raspberry jam (best is seedless), at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon white sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 cup ground walnuts
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 teaspoon water
For the dough:
For the filling:
For the glaze:
Dry-toast the ground walnuts in a dry skillet for 3 minutes, or until their color darkens and a nutty smell arises.
Make the dough: Mix the butter and cream cheese until smooth in a large bowl or the bowl of your mixer, using low speed. Add the sugar, salt and vanilla and mix thoroughly.
Add the flour gradually, still mixing on low speed until the dough is smooth.
Scoop the dough out of the bowl. If it’s too moist, add flour, one tablespoon at a time, to obtain a soft dough you can pull out of the bowl. It will still feel too moist to roll out, but its time resting and chilling in the refrigerator will firm it up.
Make two equal balls out of the dough. Wrap them in plastic wrap, or put them back in the bowl and cover with plastic. Chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours. It’s fine to leave it in for longer, even overnight.
About 20 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 350° F (175° C).
Assemble the filling and glaze: Have four small bowls ready for the filling and glaze. Put the jam in one. Blend the sugar and cinnamon in a second small bowl. Spoon the toasted ground walnuts into a third bowl, and beat the egg with water in a fourth.
Take the dough out of the refrigerator, and place one ball on a floured work surface. Let it sit out for a few minutes to soften if it’s too firm to roll out.
Roll the dough ball in a circle measuring 8". Spread half the jam over the surface, leaving 1/4” without jam around the edges of the circle. Sprinkle cinnamon sugar over the jam, then sprinkle half the nuts over the whole.
With a pizza cutter or sharp knife, cut 16 triangles into the dough. Roll each triangle toward the center, (starting with the wide edge). Roll firmly but lightly, using your fingertips.
Place the rolled cookies, point side down, on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Roll out and fill the second ball of dough the same way.
Brush the cookies with the egg mixture.
Bake 15 minutes and check for doneness. If it's not golden brown, bake another 5 minutes.