On the menu: Chocolate Cherry Rugelach
These were supposed to be posted in time for Valentine’s Day. I picked them out over a month ago for a fun holiday themed post and baked them a couple of weeks ago to ensure they’d be ready. Most days I would say photography is the hardest part of the blog, but this week, it was the writing that I just couldn’t nail down. Not that I haven’t been at my computer all week writing one thing or another. Would you like to know about how to sample insects in the field? Or how to code a Bayesian capture-recapture model in R, the hippest statistical language there is? (Hip and statistics can totally be used together, trust.) I could tell you about either of those things…or, you know, not tell you about those things.
Let’s talk about cookies. I’ve seen some impressive rugelach recipes, and I’ve been eager to make my own for some time. Rugelach are a crescent shaped cookie, filled and rolled up similar to a croissant. (To be historically accurate, however, rugelach came first.) They are traditionally Jewish, but American cooks added innovations such as cream cheese to create confections similar to the one I’m sharing with you today,
the day two days TOO DAMN LONG after Valentine’s Day. I couldn’t get over the chocolate and cherry combination; it just seemed so appropriate for the holiday.
The cookie dough comes together much like a pastry dough: cut cold fat into flour, keep cold, and roll out flat. Then you form the cookies like you would a croissant: Cut into triangles, place filling at the fat end, then roll into a cute little crescent. They are sprinkled with a bit of cocoa powder and sugar right before they go into the oven, and they bake up golden brown and flaky.
I’ve always been a chocolate and strawberry person–I’ve always preferred strawberries over cherries–but I have come to appreciate the little crimson orbs over the last few years. You don’t taste strawberry in a good, full bodied Cabernet Sauvignon, right? I lament my late arrival to the cherry party every summer, when my home state is abound with Montmorency sour cherries, and I have to use sweet cherries when I bake. Sometimes that’s okay, though. These cherry-filled confections were a real treat–and they’re appropriate at any time of the year, not just the days filled with pink and white delights.
Chocolate Cherry Rugelach
adapted from Hannaford Fresh, Jan-Feb 2013
makes about 24 cookies
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut in small pieces
8 oz. cream cheese, cut in small pieces
2 tbsp plain Greek yogurt
2 eggs, separated
1 cup cherry preserves, or more as needed
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
Combine flour, cinnamon, butter, cream cheese, and yogurt into a large bowl, then use a pastry blender (or a couple of knives) to cut the fat into the flour. Add the egg yolks, but save the egg whites for later. Continue to cut the dough with the pastry blender until it is crumbly with pea-sized crumbs. Gather the dough into four pieces–you may need to knead a little bit to combine everything–and flatten each into a disk. Wrap each piece in plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 1 hour (or as long as overnight).
Preheat oven to 375ºF. When ready to assemble, prepare the filling. In a medium bowl, stir together the cherry preserves and vanilla. Remove 1 piece of dough at a time from the fridge. On a floured surface, roll dough into a rectangle 12 inches long and 5 to 6 inches wide (dough should be about 1/8 inch thick). With the long side facing you, cut into triangles that are 1-1 1/2 inches wide at the base. Place a bit of the cherry preserves at each base, sprinkle some mini chocolate chips onto the preserves, then roll up the triangle to form each cookie. Place about 1 inch apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
Whisk together reserved egg whites in a small bowl. Brush each rugelach with egg white. In a small bowl, mix together the sugar and cocoa and sprinkle each pastry with this mixture. Bake until golden brown, about 25 minutes. Let cool on pan for 2 to 3 minutes, then remove from pan, detaching any excess jam, and let cool to room temperature on a wire rack, about 1 hour. Store in an airtight container.