Thursday, January 20, 2011


Baking is fun when you're snowed in- and you feel like you've accomplished something!

These are traditional Jewish cookies.
Lovely little filled crescents.

I can't tell you what the name means from personal knowledge.
Although I had a co-worker who believed that I was Jewish and taught Hebrew (wow, my talents are seemingly endless...), I am neither Jewish nor a Hebrew teacher. Why? I don't know.

I went to a Bat Mitzvah in 1993... and I think it was amazing that my classmate was able to read and understand Hebrew since the letters looked so different that what I'm used to.
Well, from the point of view I've written here, the same thing goes for Korean, Chinese, Japanese, Hindi...

Sorry to disappoint, but I think the extent if my Hebrew might be less than five words.
And as for Yiddish, I think my vocabulary may only extend to those words which have made it into popular American English.
From what I could find, the word "rugelach" refers to the shape, as the cookies are "twists."
Etymology can be very interesting.

They take a little time to make, and the full recipe makes quite a few, but they're worth it.
Rugleach are soooo good when they're fresh.

The pliable and incredibly forgiving dough is rolled around a filling.

They turn out to be fairly delicate and flaky, with a sweet tanginess from the apricot, nutty crunch from the walnuts, chewiness from raisins, and a final sparkly crispness from cinnamon sugar.

You get 48 cookies total, and they can be made in assembly-line fashion. Not that bad, but it takes a little time and attention.

You may not immediately want 48 cookies unless you're baking for a crowd, so the good news is they freeze beautifully. Just make the cookies without the topping, freeze on a pan, and when completely frozen transfer the cookies to a freezer-safe bag. When you're ready to use them, place the frozen cookies on a pan, let thaw at room temperature, and pick up the recipe where you left off!

Tip: a pizza cutter makes cutting the dough into wedges very easy.

Original recipe from Ina Garten's Barefoot Contessa Parties!
makes 48 cookies

8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
2 sticks (1 lb.) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 c granulated sugar plus 9 T, separated
1/4 t salt
1 t vanilla extract
2 c flour
1/4 c brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 t ground cinnamon
3/4 c raisins
1 c walnuts, finely chopped
1/2 c apricot preserves (pureed in a food processor- OR if you'd like, you can take out any large pieces of apricot as the present themselves)
1 egg beaten with 1 T milk for egg wash

Cream the cheese and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy. Add 1/4 c granulated sugar, the salt and vanilla, and mix until combined. With the mixer on low speed, carefully add the flour and mix until just combined. Remove the dough to a well-floured board, knead slightly, and roll into a ball. Cut the ball into quarters, wrap each in plastic and refrigerate about an hour.
While the dough is resting, make the filling. Combine 6 T granulated sugar, brown sugar, walnuts, raisins, and 1/2 t cinnamon in a medium bowl. Set aside.
On a well-floured counter, roll one ball of dough into a 9 inch circle. Spread the dough with 2 T apricot jam, sprinkle with 1/2 c of the filling mixture, and press the filling lightly into the dough. Cut the circle into 12 equal wedges (first into quarters, and then each quarter into thirds). Roll each cookie like a croissant- starting at the wide end and ending with the point. Place cookies on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, with the point tucked underneath the cookie. Continue with the other balls of dough. Chill for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a small bowl combine the remaining 3 T granulated sugar with 1 t cinnamon.
Brush each cookie with egg wash and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.
Bake cookies 15-20 minutes, or until lightly browned. Let cool on the pan 5 minutes and remove cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.


  1. These cookies will not disappoint you ----they are "to die for". Natalie made these for a reception-type situation after M's senior piano recital. These are one of our favorite 3 cookies right now....Poor JR---he can't eat nuts!

  2. "The name is Yiddish, the Jewish language of eastern europe. The ach ending (ך) indicates plural, while the el (ל) can be a diminuitive, as, for example, shtetlekh (שטעטלעך, villages) is the plural of shtetl (שטעטל, village), the diminuitive of shtot (שטאָט, town). In this case, the root means something like "twist" so the translation would be "little twists," a reference to the shape of this cookie. In this context, note that rog (ראָג) means corner in Yiddish, so it is possible that a more accurate translation would be "little corners."
    Alternatively, some assert that the root is rugel, meaning royal, possibly a reference to the taste. This explanation is in conflict with Yiddish usage, where the word keniglich (קעניגליךּ) is the dominant word meaning royal.

    Finally, in modern Hebrew, they are known as roglìt (רוֹגְלִית), a postbiblical Hebrew word meaning "trailing vines". The Yiddish word ruglach probably came first. The modern Hebrew is probably a neologism, chosen for its similarity to the Yiddish and its descriptive meaning."