there are two kinds of ruggelach — ones made with a yeasted type dough which are more like mini danish and others which use, as i do here, an enriched pastry dough. i find the ones with the enriched dough much more enjoyable and refined.
ruggelach are filled with many different things these days, most typically they have a jam or filling of preserves. the ones i am making here are filled with chocolate and nuts however they can be filled with whatever you like. you can even skip the nuts and replace them with ground up cookie crumbs from something like hard tea biscuits.
i'll be honest with you and say that this is a labour intensive and (tongue-in-cheek) difficult project to embark on however it is one with many rewards. it is one of the best recipes for ruggelach you will make. this recipe is only a difficult one in the sense that it is time consuming if you are working on your own. one way to cut down on the work is to cut down on the recipe! you can easily cut the recipe in half to try it for the first time (of course, you'll regret it deeply afterwards as these really are "all that and more!"). if you have extra sets of experienced helping hands, that will definitely help you along the way. this isn't really a recipe for little kids to be helping you with however.
one way i have found to make this recipe go more quickly is to prepare things the night before:
- make the dough and roll each disk out between waxed paper; stack them and refrigerate;
- make the filling and divide it evenly into the required portions.
whether you fill these with jams, chocolate and/or nuts, or any combination thereof, you will always be rewarded with gorgeous pastries that will disappear faster than the time it took you to make them. the added extra about these pastries is that they freeze so well that you'll hardly notice a difference once they're defrosted.
makes 72 pastries
1 c unsalted butter
6 oz / 3/4 c cream cheese
2 3/4 c all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 c chopped (blanched) almonds* (or walnuts)
3/4 c chopped chocolate chips**
1/2 c sugar
1 tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
egg or cream wash:
1/4 c cold water
1/4 c heavy cream
1/4 c sugar
*place whole blanched almonds in a food processor and grind them until they are partly powdery and partly finely chopped. you can use pre-ground almonds however you will not have the proper texture. grinding them takes a bit of time and will be noisy. i have never measured how many whole almonds you need but count on using at least 1 whole cup of them. process a 1/2 c of whole almonds at a time. you do NOT want big chunks.
**process the chocolate chips the same way as the almonds. again, i just add by the 1/2 c of whole chocolate chips, measure and then continue until i have the correct amount. the texture you want is the same as the almonds — partly powdery, partly coarse.
make the pastry:
place butter and cream cheese in a large bowl and let it soften to room temperature. this is important for the texture.
once at room temperature, beat the two ingredients together for about 5 minutes until light and well mixed.
mix the flour and salt together and blend.
add the flour in two additions and incorporate completely. do not over beat or the dough will get tough. remember this is pastry dough and the gluten should not be worked.
finish off the dough by making a ball of it with your hands until no traces of flour are left.
divide the dough into 9 equal pieces. on average, i get 780 grams total weight which i divide into 86 gram balls. let the dough rest covered for 20 minutes.
cut out 18 pieces of waxed paper which are about 10 inches wide. this is optional but one of the easiest and cleanest ways to roll out the dough.
place one piece of waxed paper on the counter and then one of the balls of dough.
you do not need extra flour to roll these out this way. if doing it on the counter, with no waxed paper, then dust with flour.
add the next piece of waxed paper on top and roll out the dough until you get a round of 8 inches (make sure to measure). don't fret if they edges are not perfectly round. if they are horribly off, then roll a bit wider (by 1/4 inch) and cut out a round with a baking tin of 8 inches as a guide for a perfect circle or cut yourself a template out of cardboard.
continue doing all the rounds this way and stack them WITH the waxed paper still on. if you are making this for the next day MAKE SURE to wrap them in a ziploc or with plastic wrap on a dinner plate so the dough does not dry out. if it does dry out, you can forget about continuing with the recipe.
make the filling:
grind the nuts until partly powdery and partly coarse (small bits not large ones). do the same for the chocolate.
mix all the filling ingredients together and divide into 9 equal portions.
my filling equals 338 g in total which gives 38 g for each portion.
PREHEAT oven to 375F.
if continuing from the previous day, let the dough round soften up a bit (roughly 20 minutes). if you try rolling when the dough is cold, it will break.
place one portion of the filling on one round of dough.
spread it out until almost at the edges. leave a border of about 1/4 to 3/8 ths of an inch.
take your knife and cut into 4 equal sections.
cut each of these sections again to equal 8 portions.
from the bottom outer edge, roll up each pastry loosely but snugly. if you roll too tightly, it does not roll nicely. you will ultimately loose about a total of 2 to 3 tsp of filling per 8 pastries. just place the leftover filling into the next portion. by the end, there should be very little loss of filling.
one all are filled and rolled, place them POINT SIDE down on a parchment line or well greased tray. do not put them directly on tin foil that is not well greased or they will stick and you'll have a disaster.
make the egg wash:
firstly, this is a watery eggwash and not like your typical one. this is because it applies easier to the pastries than a thicker one does. it seems a bit odd but it works. applying the eggwash is an annoying process here as it is fussy. don't worry about completely covering them, just as long as they roughly get covered and are moistened.
the same above rule applies to using a cream wash. just "wash" over the pastries with the heavy cream.
place the egg and the water in a bowl. whisk well. it will be very thin.
strain the mixture. DO NOT AVOID THIS STEP. this gives you a perfectly smooth mixture and does not interfere with 'painting' the pastries with stringy and goo-ey bits.
take a spoon and sprinkle sugar over each of the pastries. it's about an 1/8 th tsp of sugar per pastry. don't skimp. you're already eating cream cheese, chocolate and butter .... skimping on sugar isn't going to help your diet at this point! besides that, it won't give the right finished texture or look to the pastries.
bake your ruggelach for 15 to 18 minutes or until golden brown (a light one).
remove from oven and let cool on racks.