Hello, world! (Insert visual of an opening window, a head cautiously peering out)
It’s been a little bit since we’ve posted here. Life (a pandemic, jobs, apartments, cities, friends, etc.) happens! But fear not, we are still cooking lots and lots. Last winter, we spent the entire time from Thanksgiving through early January at our parents’ house, and it was a true cooking and baking marathon! This year, while our time at home for the holidays is rather short in comparison, you’d better believe we are squeezing in as much kitchen time as we can.
Some treats need a bit more counter space than a NYC apartment affords (or at least the type of NYC apartment I, Celine, can afford!), and this cookie is one of them. Dough like this deserves maximum rolling pin mobility. We are both big fans of a well-made rugelach: chewy, tender, sweet with a little nuttiness, jammy. This recipe checked all the boxes. You make a cream cheese based dough, chill it, roll it out, then roll it up with cherry jam, dried cherries, chopped walnuts, and a spiced sugar. The rolled-up cookies get a dusting of cardamom sugar before going into the oven. They emerge caramelized and nothing short of delightful.
These were the family favorite Christmas cookie of 2021, and though it’s a little late for it to be yours this year, they’ll undoubtedly be a hit all winter long. Cheers!
Cherry Cardamom Rugelach
Recipe from Rose Levy Beranbaum & Melissa Clark via NYT Cooking
Makes 4 dozen cookies
For the dough:
- 1 (8-ounce/225-gram) package cream cheese, softened
- 1 cup/225 grams unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened
- ¼ cup/50 grams granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups/255 grams all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
For the filling:
- ½ cup/100 grams granulated sugar
- ¼ cup/55 grams light brown sugar, firmly packed
- 1 ¾ teaspoons ground cardamom
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¾ cup/75 grams walnuts, coarsely chopped (optional but recommended!)
- ½ cup dried cherries, coarsely chopped
- ½ cup/120 milliliters cherry preserves or jam
- Milk, for brushing
- For the dough: Using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese and butter on medium speed until smooth and combined. Beat in sugar and vanilla extract. Reduce speed to low, and gradually add flour and salt until just combined.
- Scrape dough onto plastic wrap and shape into a ball. Divide dough into 4 pieces and wrap each one in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 2 hours or up to 3 days.
- For the filling: Combine 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, the brown sugar, 3/4 teaspoon cardamom, the cinnamon, walnuts, and dried cherries in a bowl. Stir together and set aside.
- To shape and bake: Line 4 baking sheets with parchment paper. Remove dough from refrigerator and allow it to sit at room temperature for 5 to 10 minutes, or until soft enough to roll out (we found that the last piece of dough we rolled out was still chilled enough by the time we were ready for it, so no need to return the other dough pieces to the fridge unless your kitchen is quite warm).
- On a clean, lightly floured work surface, roll out each dough ball into a 9-inch circle (one at a time), about 1/8-inch thick. Rotate dough while rolling to prevent sticking.
- Using the back of a spoon or an offset spatula, evenly spread 2 tablespoons cherry jam onto the dough. Sprinkle about 1/2 cup the dried cherry-walnut filling over the jam, and press the filling firmly and evenly over the dough.
- Using a sharp knife, cut the dough circle into 12 triangles or “slices.” With an offset spatula or thin knife, loosen the triangles from the work surface. Starting at the wide end of the triangle and working to the narrow tip, roll up each piece and bend the ends around to form a slight crescent shape (oops, we didn’t shape into crescents, but you can!).
- Place each formed rugelach, narrow tip tucked beneath, on prepared baking sheet, leaving about 1 1/2 inches between each. Refrigerate, lightly covered with plastic wrap, for at least 30 minutes (and up to 24 hours) to help them keep their shape. Clean work surface before rolling out the next batch of dough.
- When ready to bake, heat oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, stir together the remaining 2 tablespoons granulated sugar and 1 teaspoon cardamom. Brush rugelach with milk and sprinkle cardamom sugar on top.
- Bake until lightly browned, 15 to 20 minutes. Rotate cookie sheets halfway through for even baking. Transfer sheets to wire rack to cool completely. (Note: we dropped the oven temp to 325 about halfway through baking, as the filling was caramelizing more quickly than the cookie base, and we found that this helped.)