I like to make rugelach in the shape of croissants because it’s very likely that rugelach were modeled on croissants. Or the other way around, it’s hard to say. What’s true is that croissants, rugelach and kipfel are all members of the same pastry family, and none of them have anything to do with the Battle of Vienna.
These are cream cheese short pastry rugelach, just one of several possible styles. They’re a bit fussy to make but worth the results. And anyway after the first dozen or so the shaping process will become so automatic you’ll scarcely know you even doing it. This recipe makes either 24 or 32, but can easily be scaled up if you like. Start by combining the butter and cream cheese in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle.
Beat that about 30 seconds on medium-high until it’s light and fluffy, then add the sugar, salt and vanilla. A little lemon zest might work well here too if you feel like gettin’ jiggy widdit, as Will Smith might have said if here we making rugelach back in the 90’s.
Beat another 15 seconds or so, scrape the bowl and then with the machine on low start adding the flour.
Stir only until it’s barely incorporated and the dough is clumpy.
Remove the dough to a lightly floured board, gather the dough together, then divide the mass into two pieces. Shape each one into a ball. Wrap those in plastic and let them sit in the refrigerator for a minimum of an hour, or keep it there for up to 3 days.
When you’re ready to shape preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove the dough from the fridge and let it sit about 15 minutes to warm up and soften. Remove one of the dough pieces to a well-floured board. Pat it into a disk and apply the pin to it.
If when you start rolling you get a big crack like this, let the dough sit another five minutes. Press the crack together and try rolling again. The dough should warm enough to the point that it rolls out easily.
Roll it out to a circle about 11″ across. Check it frequently as you roll to make sure it’s not sticking to the board. If it is, throw more flour under it. You want your finished dough roughly circular. If it isn’t just trim it up a little. Don’t go nuts with precision, this isn’t an exact science.
Now using a pizza cutter cut the dough sheet into quarters.
For 16 small rugelach, cut the dough into eighths, then into sixteenths. For slightly larger rugelach, cut each quarter into thirds. I like to cut before I put toppings on so I don’t get confused about where my lines are. Except when I’m applying jam, then I spread it on first.
Now then for the toppings. For fine toppings like cinnamon or chocolate sugar, you can just spread them all over. Try to avoid the very center, which I forgot to do here.
Chunky fillings should be applied in a ring in the middle. Here I have some finely chopped walnuts.
As I mentioned at the beginning, I like to shape mine just like croissants, so I use the same rolling process. I stretch the triangle out, which makes a more graceful-looking roll.
I moisten the very tip with a little water or egg wash.
Then I cut a little slit in the center of the fat end to give me a little extension.
I pull the slit apart…
…and start rolling the triangle up.
Until she eez done. See?
I lay those out on a sheet pan…
…then paint them with a little egg wash. Since I’m more comfortable brushing with my right hand, I paint outward from the center on each, then I rotate the sheet pan180 degrees and do the other sides, if that makes sense.
Lastly I apply a little white large-crystal dusting sugar for added crunch.
I bake those suckers for 20-30 minutes (25-35 for larger rugelach) until they’re golden.
Serve them warm if you like as they are darn tasty that way.