A few years ago, I was lucky enough to spend some time with friends in Israel during the Purim holiday, and one of the many highlights was exploring Jerusalem’s Machane Yehuda Market, often referred to as "The Shuk". It is the largest market in Jerusalem with over 250 vendors selling everything from fruit and vegetables to specialty foods, and clothing to Judaica. It is without a doubt an experience that must be part of any visit to Jerusalem, filled with fascinating sounds, sights, and smells. One of the more famous spots is the Marzipan Bakery, which some say has the best Rugelach in Israel, and based on the long lines, they may be right.
Rugelach is a traditional Jewish pastry that is crescent-shaped and bursting with any number of fillings – jam, cinnamon, nuts or chocolate. It comes in two distinct varieties - the first is built on a yeasted dough and most often found in Israel (and at the Marzipan bakery) and the second version, more common here in the States, is made from a dough that’s highly enriched with a combination of butter and cream cheese. This rugelach recipe, from Cook's Country, is light, flaky, and delicious - use your favorite fruit jam, or a combination of jams, to create a simply perfect filling.
1 ½ cups (7½ ounces) all-purpose flour
¼ cup (1¾ ounces) granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon table salt
6 ounces cream cheese, cut into 3 pieces and chilled
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1⁄2-inch pieces and chilled
¼ cup sour cream
⅔ cup raspberry and/or apricot jam, divided
¼ cup finely chopped walnuts, optional
1 large egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water
1-2 tablespoons demerara sugar
The demerara sugar adds a nice crunch to these rugelach, but they are still great without it. If you have packets of Sugar in the Raw at home, you can use those in place of the demerara. When brushing the rugelach with the egg wash, brush only a few cookies at a time and then sprinkle them with the demerara sugar immediately. If you brush the egg wash onto all the rugelach at once, it will begin to dry by the time you get to the last rugelach, and the sugar won’t stick. If your jam contains large chunks of fruit, process it in the food processor to a smooth, spreadable consistency before using it. Be sure to check for doneness at 25 minutes; the jam tends to accelerate browning on the bottoms of the rugelach.
- Process flour, granulated sugar, and salt in food processor until combined, about 3 seconds. Add cream cheese and pulse until large, irregularly sized chunks of cream cheese form with some small pieces interspersed throughout, about 5 pulses. Scatter butter over top and pulse until butter is size of large peas, 5 to 7 pulses.
- Add sour cream and process until dough forms little clumps that hold together when pinched with your fingers (dough will look crumbly), about 10 seconds.
- Transfer dough to clean counter and knead briefly until dough just comes together, about 3 turns. Divide dough in half (each piece should weigh about 11 ounces) and form each piece into 4-inch disk. Wrap disks individually with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 2 days.
- Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll 1 dough disk into 12-inch circle on lightly floured counter. Using offset spatula, spread ⅓ cup jam evenly over entire surface of circle, sprinkle with finely chopped nuts if using. Using pizza wheel or sharp knife, cut through center of circle to form 16 equal wedges. Starting at wide edge of each wedge, roll dough toward point and transfer to prepared sheet, seam side down.
- Wipe counter clean, dust counter with additional flour, and repeat with remaining dough disk and remaining ⅓ cup jam. Arrange rugelach in 8 rows of four on sheet.
- Working with few rugelach at a time, brush tops with egg wash, then sprinkle with demerara sugar. Bake until golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cookies cool completely on sheet, about 20 minutes. Serve.