One of my husband’s favorite treats is rugalah, a Jewish pastry/cookie that is made with a cream cheese and butter dough, and filled with all kinds of delicious things, like cinnamon, nuts, fruit preserves, chocolate, Nutella – if you aren’t familiar with it, wouldn’t you like to be?
This year I made apricot rugalah (my favorite flavor) and speculoos rugalah. Speculoos is a Dutch spiced shortbread cookie that is ground up and mixed with vegetable oil to create a peanut butter consistency. If you’ve ever had one of those little Dutch windmill cookies, you’ve had speculoos. The spicy paste is perfect with the very rich dough, though it really doesn’t matter what filling you choose – it’s going to be wonderful. Here is a recipe for rugalah that was adapted from my mother-in-law, Sally Berman.
With special thanks to Jake Sammis for the speculoos idea!
Serves: makes 2 dozen
Prep time: 1/2 hour, plus two hours to chill dough and 20 minutes to bake
- 4 ounces cream cheese (half of a package)
- 1 cup flour
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1 stick unsalted butter, but into small pieces
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 egg plus one egg for eggwash
- powdered sugar for rolling out dough
- Turbinado raw cane sugar
- filling of your choice: cinnamon, raisins, nuts, chocolate, peanut butter, speculoos, Nutella, fruit preserves
- In a food processor, combine flour and salt, adding cream cheese and butter.
- Pulse several times and add the egg and vanilla.
- Pulse again until dough begins to form large pieces.
- Turn out the dough on to a powdered sugar-covered surface and make two balls of dough. Flatten dough into discs, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour, though dough will keep for several days.
After an hour, preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Roll out dough on powdered sugar into a round; dough should be about ¼ inch thick. Spread the filling in a thin layer over the dough; don’t overdo it or the filling will ooze out of the dough while it’s baking.
- Cut the dough into 12 equal-sized wedges, and beginning with the wider edge, roll the pieces of dough into little crescents, tucking the tip of the dough under when placing it on a Silpat-covered baking sheet. Brush eggwash on rugalah and sprinkle with Turbinado raw cane sugar. Put rugalah into refrigerator to cool for 30 minutes before baking.
- Bake for about 20 minutes, until tops are golden brown. Serve.