December 11th, 2014

Rugelach! candied ginger-apricot-almond and garam masala-chocolate-cherry twirls

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I first encountered these engaging little confections in a now long-extinct bakery in Nashville called Bokay’s. Its owners were Hungarian, and they specialized in towering, elaborately decorated wedding cakes, the sort that made children stop at the display window and gape with longing.

It was a bakery of celebrations. In the springtime, I can remember finding braided egg bread challahs, and coffeecakes in a cunning Easter Bunny shape. In December, Black Forest cakes and stollen took the fore. And these twisted cream cheese pastries, Rugelach, filled variously with cinnamon sugar and walnuts, chocolate, apricot or raspberry jam.

Something betwixt a cookie and a pastry, they were delicious-bite sized treats.

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The origin of the word is interesting: It is Yiddish for “twists” and resembles (and likely influenced) the Polish word for “horn.” In either case, these little crescents are rich, yet light and flaky, its dough layered with equal parts of butter and cream cheese.

The dough is easy to make, and not dissimiliar from these crescents that I made a few Decembers ago. What is especially appealing about them—-outside of their delicate size and their flaky, not-too-sweet taste—-is that they lend themselves to a spectacular array of fillings.

That dough makes one terrific pastry canvas.

Rummaging through my pantry, I found candied ginger, dried apricots, a handful of dried cherries, some dark cocoa, a small bag of chocolate chips, almonds. Ideas began taking shape.

Ginger-apricot-almond came together readily. I plumped the ginger and fruit in a simple syrup bath, and ground the toasted almonds.

Chocolate and cherry make ideal partners too. I wanted to add a little something different to that canvas. Rather than use the more traditional cinnamon, I thought it would be fun—and flavorful—to sprinkle Garam Masala spice blend.

Enjoy them this holiday season with a cup of coffee or pot of hot tea, shared with friends or family.

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BASIC RUGELACH DOUGH
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 pound cream cheese, cut into pieces
1/2 pound chilled butter, cut into pieces
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg yolk
1 cup powdered sugar—for dusting and rolling pastry

Place the flour and salt into the bowl of a food processor. Briefly pulse.
Then add the cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and egg yolk.
Pulse and process until the ingredients are well incorporated and the dough comes together as a mass.
Remove the dough and form into 2 separate discs. Wrap tightly in plastic and refrigerate until well-chilled—at least one hour, although overnight is better! The dough will keep refrigerated for 3 days, or may be frozen for up to 2 months. Thaw any frozen dough in the refrigerator before using.

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CANDIED GINGER-APRICOT-ALMOND FILLING
1/4-1/3 cup candied ginger, cut into slivers
1 cup dried apricots, chopped
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup almonds

Place all of the ingredients into a medium saucepan set on low heat. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Increase the heat to medium, cover and allow the mixture to soften, thicken and simmer.
Cool and process to spreading consistency (using either an immersion blender or a food processor.)

Meanwhile, spread the almonds onto a baking sheet. Place into a preheated 375 degree oven and toast for 10-12 minutes. Cool and finely chop (or pulse in the processor to fine)

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To assemble:
Sprinkle the work counter with powdered sugar. Remove one disc of dough from the refrigerator, unwrap, and roll out to a 15 inch circle. If the dough gets sticky, sprinkle more powdered sugar.

Place 1/2 cup glob of ginger-apricot mixture in the center of the dough circle. Using a spatula, spread the mixture evenly across the surface to the edges of the circle. Add more fruit mixture as needed.

Sprinkle the top of the fruit mixture with the finely chopped almonds.
Cut the dough into quarters, then eighths, then sixteenths, then thirty-seconds.
Roll each piece up from the exterior to the inner point and place onto a parchment-lined (or sil-pat lined baking sheet) Keep the pieces about an inch apart.

Bake for approximately 15 minutes in a pre-heated 375 degree oven, until the rugelaches are puffed and golden brown.

Allow to cool on a rack for 10 minutes before removing.

Makes 32 pieces.

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GARAM-MASALA-CHOCOLATE-CHERRY FILLING
1 1/2 tablespoons cocoa
1-2 teaspoons garam masala spice blend
4 ounces semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 cup dried dark sweet cherries
2 tablespoons turbinado sugar

Have all of these ingredients assembled separately for your mise-en-place.

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To Assemble
Sprinkle the work counter with powdered sugar.
Unwrap one disc of dough and roll it out on the dusted surface into a 15″ circle.
Cover the top with cocoa, followed by
Cut into quarters, then eighths, then sixteenths, then thirty-seconds.
Roll each elongated triangle from the outside to the point and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Bake for approximately 15 minutes in a preheated 375 degree oven.

Makes 32 pieces

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Posted in Breakfast, Chocolate, Desserts, Fruit, Recipes

10 Responses to “Rugelach! candied ginger-apricot-almond and garam masala-chocolate-cherry twirls”
  1. Kath Says:

    They look absolutely delicious and I like the sound of that bakery very much, it’s a shame it’s not still there.

  2. Teresa, foodonfifth Says:

    I remember that bakery so well…thanks for the memories and for sharing this fabulous recipe. Your Rugelach look so good…this is one of my favorite cookies of all time…I would love some with my coffee…hint, hint…I like all the different fillings as well. Very interesting flavor combos.
    Happy Friday.

  3. Gerlinde Says:

    These rolls look great and I think I will make them in the mountains. I just wonder, I have some frozen fresh apricots in the freezer. If I use them would the Rugelach get soggy?

  4. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Hi Gerlinde,
    I would use them–but I would first chop and cook them in a little sugar or honey to lightly sweeten them , but cook out some of the water.That way, the rugelachs won’t become soggy. I hope you enjoy them!

  5. mark Says:

    I can remember my Romanian Grandmother and I make those wonderful treats growing up. I have yet to encounter as good as hers. I just may be prejudice, lol. Gerlinde apricot preserves would be a good option also.

  6. Joyti Says:

    Oh! These sound delicious. I love the addition of garam masala :)

  7. Karen (Back Road Journal) Says:

    These have always been one of my favorite cookies but I haven’t had them in years. I love both of your versions…they sound delicious and different.

  8. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Hi Mark–I can imagine that you grew up eating fabulous rugelach.

    Hi Joyti–I love that spice addition too.

    Hi Karen–thank you!

  9. Tammy Says:

    I love this size of pastry as I never feel “too” guilty. I also love your addition of garam masala. I find that I enjoy chocolate much more if it is accompanied by a spice; cinnamon or cayenne or in this case, garam masala.

  10. heather Says:

    Wow, what fun! Little gems and perfect to serve to friends. Thank you Nancy!



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