Taking an ecumenical approach to the holidays, I've often included rugelach in my Christmas baking. I thought I needed some balance to this year's Christmas dessert tray, so I made some apricot rugelach and some raspberry.
Yield: 4 dozen
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 lb unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup plus 9 tbs granulated sugar
1/4 tsp Kosher salt
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour (plus more for rolling out)
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
3 tsp Saigon cinnamon
3/4 cup raisins
1 cup hazelnuts, finely chopped
1/4 cup apricot preserves, at room temperature
1/4 cup raspberry preserves, at room temperature
1 egg beaten with 1 tbs milk, for egg wash
Cream the cheese and 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, add the flour, mixing just until combined. Dump the dough onto a well-floured board and pat it into a ball. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for one hour.
Combine 6 tbs of granulated sugar, the brown sugar, 2 tsp cinnamon, the raisins, and the hazelnuts.
To make the rugelach:
On a well-floured board, roll each ball of dough into a 9 inch circle. Spread the dough with 2 tbs of preserves, then sprinkle with 1/2 cup of the filling, pressing the filling lightly into the dough. Cut the circle into 12 equal wedges (first cut into quarters, then divide each quarter into 3 equal parts).Starting at the wide end, carefully roll up each wedge.
Place the rugelach, points tucked under, on baking sheets lined with silicone mats. CHILL FOR 30 MINUTES. Do not omit this step.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Brush each cookie with the egg wash. Combine 3 tbs granulated sugar and 1 tsp cinnamon and sprinkle over the cookies. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until lightly browned (they'll firm up more as they cool). Remove to a wire rack to cool.
The hardest part of making the rugelach is waiting for the dough to chill before assembling and again before baking. Well, maybe that's the second hardest part--the first is not eating them in one sitting. These are the perfect bite. The pastry dough nicely balances the sweetness of the filling and the cinnamon adds just a touch of spice. I think the rugelach, the espresso bites, the cannoli "chip and dip," and the peanut butter-oatmeal cookies will be just enough dessert to counteract Christmas dinner.