Rugelach (pronounced RUH-ge-lakh) are rolled, crescent-shaped mini pastry-style cookies.  They can be filled with fruit preserves, chocolate or both if desired.

Rugelach are made with using cream-cheese dough.  I have made them with yeast doughs and cookie doughs, and in my humble opinion the very best kind are ... whichever one I happen to be eating.  But the cookie style is a little easier to make.   I haven't tried yet, but you can probably use margarine, parve cream cheese substitute and soy milk if you want to make this parve/vegan.

1/2 cup unsalted butter, slightly softened
4 ounces cream cheese, slightly softened
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 1/2 cups flour
1/3 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1/3 cup dark or golden raisins
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup seedless raspberry preserves

Using an electric mixer or wooden spoon, cream the butter and cream cheese in a large bowl until soft and well blended. Stir in the salt and confectioners' sugar. Add the flour a third at a time, beating well each time.

Gather the dough into a ball and place it on a floured surface. With floured hands, knead the dough 3 or 4 times to smooth it. Divide the dough into 2 balls. Place each on a large piece of plastic wrap, flatten it into a 3/4-inch-thick disk, wrap it in the plastic, and chill it for at least 2 hours.

Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or lightly greased aluminum foil. Set baking sheet aside.

Combine the walnuts, raisins, sugar, and cinnamon in a food processor and pulse the machine until the mixture is finely chopped.  Transfer the mixture to a small bowl.

Working with 1 disk of pastry at a time, roll the dough into a 12-inch circle on a sheet of lightly floured waxed paper, dusting the dough with flour to prevent the pin from sticking. If the dough is too stiff to roll, let it set a few minutes to soften slightly. When you're done rolling, slide the paper and pastry onto another baking sheet and chill for 10 minutes before proceeding. Meanwhile, roll out the other pastry disk the same way and chill it on a baking sheet. 

With the chilled pastry still on its baking sheet, smear 2 tablespoons of raspberry preserves over the dough, leaving uncovered a 1/2-inch border all around and a 2-inch circle in the center (this will help prevent jelly from oozing out). Cover the preserves with about half of the nut and raisin mixture, spreading it evenly.

Using a pastry wheel or a sharp knife, cut the dough into 12 wedges as you would cut a pie. Starting at the wide point, roll up each wedge like a carpet. Place the rugelach point down on the lined baking sheet. Pull the ends down, just a little, to form crescents. Chill the cookies on the baking sheet for 10 minutes while you heat the oven to 350 degrees. Meanwhile, assemble the second batch of rugelach and chill it.

Lightly brush the chilled cookies with milk and sprinkle on a bit of sugar. Bake the rugelach on the center oven rack, one sheet at a time, for approximately 18 to 20 minutes, until light golden. Cool them briefly on the sheet, then transfer them to a wire rack with a spatula.

Yield:  24 rugalach


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