I must have some Jewish blood in me because these are one of my favorite cookies. They are so easy to make and look so complicated. People think you are a real artist and baker when presented with a plate of these for afternoon tea.
I like to bake rugelach at this time of the year for those I call the weary travellers. You know, the ones who arrive by car or plane in the middle of the day, too late for lunch and too early for a drink. I always feel I have to offer them something but not too much to spoil the evening cocktails just around the corner. These and a cup of tea or coffee fit the bill.
This recipe is a mix of an old one I had and Dorie Greenspan's method for making the dough.
Almonds and apricots are a match made in heaven, but feel free to substitute your favorite jam.
Almond And Apricot Rugelach
For the Dough
4 ounces cold cream cheese, cut into 4 pieces
1 stick (8 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup granulated sugar
grated zest of 1/2 lemon
2 tsps fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp almond extract
For the Filling
1/2 cup apricot jam or marmalade
3/4 cup slivered almonds finely chopped
For the Glaze
1 large egg beaten
Confectioner's sugar for dusting
Makes 32 cookies
Directions:TO MAKE THE DOUGH:
Let the cream cheese and butter rest on the counter for 10 minutes — you want them to be slightly softened but still cool.
Put all the dough ingredients in a food processor, scatter over the chunks of cream cheese and butter and pulse the machine 6 to 10 times. Then process, scraping down the sides of the bowl often, just until the dough forms large curds — don't work it so long that it forms a ball on the blade.
Turn the dough out, gather it into a ball and divide it in half. Shape each half into a disk, wrap the disks in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or up to 1 day. (Wrapped airtight, the dough can be frozen for up to 2 months.)
Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats. (Silicone baking mats are great for rugelach.)
TO SHAPE THE COOKIES:
Pull one packet of dough from the refrigerator. If it is too firm to roll easily, either leave it on the counter for about 10 minutes or give it a few bashes with your rolling pin.
On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into an 11- to 12-inch circle. Spoon (or brush) half the apricot jam over the dough, and sprinkle over half of the almonds. Cover the filling with a piece of wax paper and gently press the filling into the dough, then remove the paper and save it for the next batch.
Using a pizza wheel or a sharp knife, cut the dough into 16 wedges, or triangles. (The easiest way to do this is to cut the dough into quarters, then to cut each quarter into 4 triangles.)
Starting at the base of each triangle, roll the dough up so that each cookie becomes a little crescent. Arrange the roll-ups on one baking sheet, points side up, and refrigerate.
Repeat with the second packet of dough, and refrigerate the cookies for at least 30 minutes before baking. (The cookies can be covered and refrigerated overnight or frozen for up to 2 months; don't defrost before baking, just add a couple of minutes to the baking time.)
Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Beat the egg and using a pastry brush paint this glaze over each rugelach.
Bake the cookies for 20 to 25 minutes, rotating the sheets from top to bottom and front to back at the midway point, until they are puffed and golden. Transfer the cookies to racks, sprinkle with confectioners sugar and cool to just warm or to room temperature.
STORING: The cookies can be kept covered at room temperature for up to 3 days or wrapped airtight and frozen for up to 2 months.