The American addition to rugelach was cream cheese and the myriad fillings used today. The cream-cheese dough may have been developed by the Philadelphia Cream Cheese Company because the dough is often called Philadelphia cream-cheese dough. One of the early cream-cheese doughs appeared in The Perfect Hostess, written in 1950 by Mildred Knopf Mrs. Knopf, sister-in-law of Alfred Knopf the publisher, mentioned that the recipe came from Nela Rubinstein, the wife of the famous pianist Arthur Rubinstein.
It was Mrs. Knopfs friend Maida Heatter who put rugelach on the culinary map with Mrs. Heatter's grandmother's recipe. It is the most sought after of all Mrs. Heatter's recipes and is the rugelach most often found in upscale bakeries nationwide. Here is my own version.
8 ounces cream cheese
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
Pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 large egg
1/4 cup crystallized or granulated sugar
1 cup apricot jam
2 tablespoons cake crumbs (optional)
3/4 cup walnuts, broken up
1 cup shaved bittersweet chocolate (about 8 ounces)
1/2 cup sugar
1. Place the cream cheese, butter, confectioners sugar, salt, lemon juice, and vanilla in a food processor. Add the flour and pulse until a very soft dough is formed. Refrigerate for at least an hour.
2. Mix the ingredients for the filling of your choice and divide the dough into 4 balls. Roll the balls out into 4 circles, about 1/2 inch thick and spread with apricot filling or chocolate filling.
3. Cut into pie-shaped pieces an inch wide at the circumference. Top with the apricot or chocolate filling. Roll up from the wide side to the center. Beat the egg and brush the top. Sprinkle with the crystallized sugar and place flat on a greased cookie sheet. (Alternatively, roll out each ball to a rectangle, 1/4 inch thick. Roll each rectangle into a 1/4 inch pieces. Lay flat on a greased cookie sheet. Beat the egg, brush the tops of each cookie, and sprinkle with the crystallized sugar.)
4. Bake on a greased cookie sheet in a preheated 350 degree oven for 25 minutes or until golden brown.
Yield: about 50 rugelach
Jewish Cooking In America with Joan Nathan
26-Part Cooking Series
by Maryland Public Television,
Frappe Inc. And Joan Nathan
Begins September 1998 on PBS
Reprinted by permission.
This page created September 1998
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