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O Rugelach, Rugelach…where have you been all of my life?!  Now that I have found you, I shall never let you go.  All joking aside, rugelach is without a doubt my new love affair in cookie form. I recently decided to reconnect with my 20% Ashkenazi  Jewish roots and explore some recipes.  I’m sharing this recipe in loving  memory of my charming grandpa who passed on amazing genes ;), fantastically magical memories and long-lasting lessons on how life is meant to be lived.

Unfortunately, for me I did not grow up with much of the culture, cuisine and history present in my everyday life. Most likely, because Grandpa’s childhood and family was far from “traditional”.  Through my genealogy research, I have gleaned a fair amount of information on my ancestors from this branch of our tree.  As fascinating, and awe-inspiring as it was to see immigration forms from Germany to New York, World War I draft cards with a physical description of my 2nd great grandpa, finding out my 3rd great-grandpa was a publisher, and that another was an optician.  Learning about them left me proud, and wanting to connect on another level. Knowing Grandpa’s affinity for gastronomy – I thought what better way than food (because food = love in our family).

So, to begin this journey my kids and I decided to tackle the Jewish pastry Rugelach.  Rugelach is a tender flaky crescent shaped pastry filled traditionally with walnuts and raisins.  It can be filled with a multitude of different ingredients like fruits, nuts, chocolate and anything you can dream up. I stuck to the classic walnut and raisin, and instantly was a fan. Let me pause for a moment and reflect on the experience……. it was pure confectionery perfection.  Okay, moving on – if you have never had it the taste is similar to a cinnamon roll, but in my opinion better.

If you have never enjoyed this delectable treat – I implore you to get in the kitchen, roll up your sleeves and give it a go.  I’m sure Grandpa would have approved.  I can imagine us sitting at the table enjoying some cookies and milk, and if I concentrate hard enough I can hear his infectious laughter, & feel his large rough well-worn hands holding mine.  I will leave you with a quote from his favorite song & of the lesson he taught me most:

“The greatest thing you’ll ever learn
Is just to love and be loved in return”.
                          ~Eden Ahbez (Nature Boy –  recorded, performed and made popular by Nat King Cole)
For the dough:
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
For the filling:
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 cup walnuts
1/2 cup raisins
4 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 cup apricot preserves
For topping:
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon of milk, for egg-wash
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Cream the butter and cream cheese in a bowl with an electric mixer. Add sugar, salt and vanilla.  On low speed mix in the flour. Roll dough into a ball and cut in quarters. Wrap each quarter in plastic wrap and refrigerate 1 hour.
To make the filling, place brown sugar, granulated sugar, walnuts, raisins and cinnamon in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Transfer to a bowl and set aside until dough is ready.
Preheat oven to 350° and line baking sheets with parchment paper.
On a lightly floured surface place one disc of chilled dough, dust the top with flour and roll into a 10-11″ circle close to an 1/8th in thickness. Spread 1-2 tablespoons of apricot preserves on top.  Then sprinkle with the walnut and raisin mixture gently pressing filling into the dough.
Using a knife or pizza wheel, cut the dough into twelve equal triangles (just like you would for a pizza slice). Roll each wedge up starting from the wide end and ending with the point. Place the rolls about an inch apart, on the prepared baking sheets.  Repeat with remaining dough.
Brush with egg wash.  Combine 3 tablespoons sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon.  Then sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.
Bake 15-20 minutes until lightly golden.  Transfer to cooling racks.





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