Friday, January 9, 2009

Heavenly Chocolate Rugelach

Rugelach (ru-ga-la) or Rugalach are generally Jewish pastry cookies that are consumed during Hanukkah.There is a tradition to eat cheese cakes during Hanukkah.The addition of cream cheese in the dough makes rugelach perfect for the occasion.Rugelach originated in Austria and are related to kipferl/kipferin and there is even a small lore attached to it on how it became a must on Hanukkah.They mean 'little twists' in Yiddish and are crescent shaped(representing the Turkish Ottoman flag) and filled with anything from sugar,cinnamon,nuts and preserves.The dough is made from cream cheese and butter and there are several versions available on the net.I followed a simple chocolate version from here,but made changes based on tips given to make it flaky and also referenced here.

Ingredients:
Cream Cheese: 4 oz cold and little softened and cut into pieces
Unsalted Butter: 1 stick cold and cut into pieces
All Purpose Flour:1 cup
Confectioners Sugar:1/4 cup
Lemon Juice: 1/4 tsp
Vanilla Extract: 1/4 tsp
Salt: a pinch

Ganache Filling:

1/2 cup grated semisweet chocolate
1 tbsp heavy cream

Preparation:

Filling:

Mix all the chocolate and cream in a microwaveable bowl and microwave at 50% power for few seconds.Take out and whisk together.See that all the chocolate has melted,or else microwave at 50% power for few more seconds.Let it sit at room temperature as this is ideal for filling.Prepare this once the dough is ready to be rolled out.

This can be done on stovetop as well.This is a light ganache only meant for filling and does not has butter or oil or cornsyrup which is usually added and this worked out well here.The heavy ganache with extra ingredients will make the cookies more softer and is not advisable.Click here for more about ganache.

You can go for any filling though.If chocoholic ,but lazy to make the ganache,Nutella works excellently :P or simply mix together choco gratings and sugar.


Making dough:
In a big bowl,add all the ingredients for the dough and using a hand blender/food processor mix to form a little sticky soft dough.This takes only a few minutes.Do not overmix the dough.Keep the dough in a bowl and then let it chill in the fridge covered for atleast 2 hours or overnight.Otherwise,divide the dough into 4 discs and refrigerate each disc in a plastic wrap

Some recipes use completely softened butter and cream cheese for making dough which gives a normal cookie texture for rugelach.Cream cheese works better at room temperature.But here if you want a flaky pastry-cold butter is a must as while baking it forms little butter pockets.So cream cheese can be cold as well.Other wise use it softened or for ease of use simply cut both butter and cream cheese into cubes and work to form the dough.The rich dough will be sticky and firms up on chilling and rolling.

Once the dough is chilled well,take out the bowl and then divide the dough into 4 quarters.If you have already divided into 4 avoid this.This is for ease of handling.Refrigerate all but 1 disc.The dough must be cold while working.So work on one disk at a time.

Keep the disc in a lightly floured surface.Roll it out into a big circle of little thickness.I went for a smaller circle of around 6 inches.



(In the above pic you can see the ganache filling in the bowl,the 3 discs ready to be put back in the fridge and a small rolled out disc .)

Spread the filling on the disc.I also added some nuts on top of the filling.


Using a sharp knife/pizza cutter divide the disc into wedges (preferable 8 wedges for a 6inch circle).This is similar to cutting a pizza.

Take a piece,and starting from the curved edge,roll it up in a jelly-roll fashion to the pointed end.Bend the ends in to form a crescent or 'c' shape.This does not work on 6 inch circles though.This is a rugelach cookie ready to be baked.


Place the cookies in a greased or lined baking sheet.Glaze them with milk/melted butter/egg wash.Bake in a preheated oven at 350F for about 20-25 minutes.Remove the cookies and let them cool in a wire rack.They firm on cooling.

Ready to be baked .....

The recipe mentioned a baking time of 25 minutes.But mine were smaller cookies and they were done in 12 minutes -I forgot the glaze and so the tops were not brown,but the egdes started browning after 12 minutes.Also for the next batch,I rolled into a thinner and larger circle and these larger cookies took around 25 minutes.So always check from 12th minute onwards.

Also I baked without a liner/grease on the baking sheet,as mine was non stick.It is highly advisable that the sheet be lined for easy cleaning.Also the ready to be baked cookies can be frozen in the sheet or a ziploc bag for a longer duration.They do not need thawing.Simply take out and bake adding a few more minutes than the normal baking time.

The first batch of smaller cookies were soft and flaky and not crunchy or crispy.The longer second batch cookies were little bit crispier.Basically,the cookies looked like they were made from puff pastry ,but the exact crispness as not there,but you could see the butter pockets formed or its flakiness-its like duplicate puff pastry.Those who like soft cookies will definitely enjoy this.We can also say the cookies tasted like they were made from pie crust.We are making a dough similar to pie crust here.Hence the assumption.You can imagine enjoying a bite sized twisted chocolate pie cookie .'Just Heavenly'.


These are pretty easy to make,despite my long lecture.Only the chilling time is more.I enjoyed the entire process.Its very easy.I got it wrong only when I forgot the glaze :( . Also some recipes do not use sugar in the basic dough recipe.This is also workable as a sugarless dough can be used for savoury fillings as well.Do check out Dorie Greenspan's blog for tips on rugelach and baking in general.

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