As of this writing, there are three more nights of Chanukah, which means there are three more opportunities to make latkes and sufganiyot (jelly donuts), both of which are popular traditional foods of the Jewish Festival of Lights. These foods, which are cooked in oil, allude to the miracle of the Maccabees’ oil lasting for eight nights in the newly rededicated temple. But I, for one, have a little bit of a thing for another traditional Chanukah food: rugelach, bite-sized Eastern European cookies that closely resemble tiny croissants and are filled with a diverse assortment of flavors. While the cookies are traditionally filled with fruit preserves and nuts, it’s not unusual to find chocolate (or Nutella) rugelach, cinnamon-sugar, and even savory versions with goat cheese.
Raspberry Almond Rugelach
adapted ever-so-slightly from the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook
16 T butter, room temperature
8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
½ t salt (omit if you are using salted butter)
2 c all-purpose flour
2/3 c raspberry jam
2/3 c sugar
1 T ground cinnamon
3 T chopped almonds
1 egg yolk + 1 t water for egg wash
For the dough: In a standing mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and cream cheese together until fluffy. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour and salt, then add to the butter mixture. Beat on low until just incorporated. Remove dough from bowl, shape into a disc, and place into a large zippered plastic bag. Chill in refrigerator for at least two hours.
For the filling: Set up your mise en place with three separate dishes: one for the jam, one for the cinnamon and sugar together, and one for the almonds.
To assemble the rugelach: Prepare a baking sheet with a silpat or parchment paper. Remove your dough from the refrigerator and divide into thirds. Place two of the portions back in the fridge, place the third portion on a lightly floured surface, and roll it into a circle about 12 inches across. (I really love my baking mat for this task, as it eliminates all the guesswork about what size your dough should be.)
Spread a couple of tablespoons of jam onto the dough, going all the way out to the edges. Sprinkle with 3 T cinnamon sugar, then one tablespoon of almonds. Using a long knife, a pastry wheel, or a pizza cutter (hey, it works!), cut the dough like a pie into 16 triangles. Working from the outside, roll each triangle toward the center of the circle like you’re rolling a crescent roll.
Place the crescents on the baking sheet about one inch apart. After placing the crescents onto the sheet, chill the tray in the freezer for 15 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare egg wash for glazing. After 15 minutes, remove crescents from freezer and brush with glaze. Sprinkle with excess cinnamon sugar if you’re feeling fancy. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden. There will be some spillage of the filling during the baking process, so be careful. Use a metal spatula (to mitigate the sticky spillage situation) to remove the cookies from the baking sheet onto a wire rack to cool. Repeat process with remaining two portions of dough (or freeze the dough for up to two months).
Enjoy in the morning with coffee or as a light after-dinner dessert!