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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Rugulah Demystified

Today's proclamation:  I love rugulah.   I mean, what's not to love?  Little bite sized pieces of heaven filled with raisins, apricot or raspberry jam, or, my personal favorite, chocolate chips.  As far as I'm concerned, rugulah are the Manolo Blahnik of Jewish baking.  (I'll bet Mr. Blahnik has never had his shoes compared to anything Jewish, let alone a cookie.)

My love affair with rugulah goes way back to my childhood.  My mother used to buy them for us at Bea's Bakery, where they were called "delco's".  My Grandma Fanny used to buy them at the Beverlywood Bakery, where they were called rugulah.  It didn't matter what they were called, because I would have loved them under any name.

I'm not sure what it is about rugulah that has made them one of my all time favorite things.  In fact, I'm sure that if Oprah knew about rugulah she would include them on her list of favorite things, that's how yoummy they are.  But I digress, I think it might be the combination of the not too sweet cream cheese pastry and the  much sweeter filling, all rolled up together.  Whatever it is, it works for me.

So, imagine my pleasure when I saw that my beloved Ina Garten had a recipe for these tasty little treats in her Barefoot Contessa Parties cookbook.  There was only one problem.  The recipe was for rugulah with raisins and nuts, and I prefer chocolate chips, so I did a little adapting.  The end result was worthy of the Beverlywood Bakery (and for anyone who has ever been there, that's pretty high praise).

There is one hitch.  This recipe takes a little time and a lot of effort.  These are not your mother's slice and bake cookies.  There's rolling, sprinkling, and more rolling, so set aside some time to do this.  I promise, it will be worth it.  If you want quick, make toll house cookies.  If you want special, make these rugulah.

Chocolate Chip Rugulah
(Apapted from Barefoot Contessa Parties, 2001)


8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar, plus 9 tablespoons
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3/4 cup mini chocolate chips
1 cup walnuts, toasted and finely chopped
1/2 cup fruit preserves (apricot, orange, or raspberry), pureed in a food processor
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon milk, for egg wash

Cream the cream cheese with the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until light.  Add 1/4 cup granulated sugar, the salt, and vanilla.  With the mixer on low speed, add the flour and mix until just combined.  Dump the dough out onto a well floured board and roll it into a ball.  Cut the ball into quarters, wrap each piece in plastic wrap, and place in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

To make the filling, combine 6 tablespoons of granulated sugar, the brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, the chocolate chips, and walnuts.

On a well floured board, roll each ball of dough into a 9-inch circle.  Spread the dough with 2 tablespoons of the pureed preserves and sprinkle with a 1/2 cup of the filling.  Press the filling lightly into the dough.  Cut the dough into 12 equal wedges -- cutting the whole circle into quarters, then each quarter into thirds.  Starting with the wide edge, roll up each wedge.  Place the cookies, points tucked under, on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Brush each cookie with the egg wash.  Combine 3 tablespoons of granulated sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon and sprinkle on the cookies.  Bake for 15 - 20 minutes until lightly browned.  Remove to a wire rack and let cool.

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