My mom made RUGELEH every Christmas as far back as I can remember. I’m sure it’s a recipe she got from her mother or grandmother and, knowing mom, she tinkered with it and made it her own. RUGELEH originated in Central Europe as a pastry made with sour cream and when it made its way to America the sour cream was replaced with cream cheese. I love these rich little roll ups and have tried many different recipes over the years but always come back to this one. Partly because it’s familiar to me and mostly because it is amazingly delicious.
Most of the RUGELEH recipes I have tried over the years are similar: cream cheese, butter, flour and sugar. It’s the filling that differs from one baker to the next . My mom used finely chopped walnuts…I like hazelnuts and use HAZELNUT MEAL combined with sugar, currants and cinnamon. If you have never baked with currants I urge you to buy a box and experiment with them. Currants are about one fourth the size of raisins and have a slightly tart intense fruity flavor. Their tiny size makes them an ideal ingredient in recipes like this RUGELEH where a larger raisin would overwhelm the other ingredients. **see note below
To make RUGELEH roll out the dough into 10-inch circles. Spread with apricot jam ( raspberry jam is another choice) and sprinkle on the hazelnut meal, sugar, cinnamon topping. Add currants and gently press into the pastry. With a knife or pizza cutter cut the pastry into 12 wedges. Carefully roll up the triangles starting at the wide end. Try to keep as much nut mixture on the pastry wedge as possible. Brush roll-ups with heavy cream, sprinkle with sanding sugar, and bake in a 375 degree oven.
During baking the jam and nuts make a sweet, caramalized fruity filling accented with bits of sweet-tart currants. RUGELEH is a beautiful addition to cookie trays and is a delicious pastry to serve with coffee or tea any time of day. Stored in an air-tight container, the cookies will keep for 5-6 days. Mine never last that long.
- 1 cup ground nuts (I used hazelnut flour/meal available in my web store) Walnuts and pecan are delicious too.
- 1 cup currants
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- ½ cup apricot jam
- ½ pound cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
- 2 cups flour
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- ¼ cup whipping cream
- sanding sugar
- FOR FILLING:
- Combine nuts, currants, sugar and cinnamon is a small bowl.
- FOR DOUGH:
- Combine cream cheese, flour, butter and sugar in a large bowl and blend well. Divide dough into three pieces. Dust each with flour, shaking of excess. Roll each between sheet of waxed paper into 10-inch circle. Refrigerate 1 hour.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line baking sheet with parchment of a silpat. Spread each circle of dough with apricot jam. Divide filling among the circles, spreading evenly. Pat gently into the jam. Cut each circle into 12 wedges. Carefully roll up each wedge from the wide edge to the point. Arrange on prepared sheet, point side down. Brush with heavy cream and sprinkle with sanding sugar if desired.
- Bake until golden, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cook. Store in airtight container.
- Raisins are dried white grapes. They are dried to produce a dark, sweet fruit. The grapes used are usually Moscatel.
- Sultanas are also dried white grapes but from seedless varieties. They are golden in color and tend to be plumper, sweeter and juicier than other raisins. Also referred to as Golden Raisins in the US.
- Currants are dried, dark red, seedless grapes. They are dried to produce a black, tiny shrivelled, flavour-packed fruit. The grapes were originally cultivated in the south of Greece, and the name currant comes from the ancient city of ‘Corinth’.