Rugelach pastries are formed in a crescent shape by rolling a triangular shape of dough around a filling. In Russia, these pastries are also known as гости на пороге, or guests at the doorstep. In other words, if unexpected guests arrive, you can quickly get this dessert in the oven. I use a cream cheese dough and a poppy seed filling for this version of rugelachs. The cream cheese dough makes these pastries unbelievably soft and tender. The dough needs to be refrigerated before you can start shaping them, but you can make it ahead of time and store in the refrigerator or freezer. It’s a great option You can buy poppy seed filling at the store, and I have also included a recipe for homemade poppy seed filling.
Yields: 70-80 rugelachs
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 sticks of butter, softened
2 Tablespoons of water
2 cups flour
Poppy seed filling (there is enough filling in this recipe for 2 batches of rugelachs)
powdered sugar, for dusting the pastries
In the standing mixer with a paddle attachment or using a hand mixer, cream the cream cheese and butter until they are an even consistency. Add the egg yolk and water, mix until incorporated. I was making a double batch, hence the two egg yolks:). Add the flour and also mix until incorporated. Wrap in aluminum foil and refrigerate until firm, at least a few hours. You won’t be able to roll out the dough if it’s not firm enough. I usually make a few batches of this dough and keep the extra in the freezer. Next time I feel like having these pastries, I have dough ready to go. Here’s where the guests at the doorstep aspect comes in:). Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
To shape the pastries, here’s what I usually do. On a floured surface, roll out a portion of the dough and cut out a circle. I used a 10 inch lid. You can use a dinner plate or anything else round. Save the scraps and put them in the refrigerator or freezer to firm up again. Place about 2 tablespoons of the poppy seed filling and spread it all over the surface of the dough. If your poppy seed filling is hard to spread and clumpy, add a few teaspoons of hot water to it. Cut the circle into 8 triangles. Roll up each triangle, starting from the widest part, into a crescent shape. Place on the prepared baking sheets. Bake for 12-18 minutes, until starting to brown on the tips. The pastries will still be white. Do not bake them until they are golden all over, they will be overcooked and hard.
If you like your cookies to be brown, you can use the egg white that you didn’t use for the dough, whisk it up and brush it on the pastries before baking. You can also sprinkle some sugar over the egg wash, since these pastries aren’t very sweet. I prefer to dust with powdered sugar. Repeat will the rest of the dough. Use the scraps too, but make sure to refrigerate until firm first, or they won’t roll out very well. You can use whatever filling you like for these pastries, cinnamon, cream cheese, jam, preserves or nuts.