Rugelach, tiny crescent shaped pastries, are a family favorite. A tender, flaky, cream cheese dough is wrapped around a filling of apricot jam, brown sugar, and walnuts.
Baked until golden brown and beginning to caramelize, Rugelach are light and buttery with wonderfully crisp edges and an addictive filling. Not overly sweet, they’re perfect with a cup of coffee.
This recipe by Nick Malgieri, the author of 12 pastry and baking cookbooks, and the founder of the baking program at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City, was found by my daughter a few years ago and has become a family favorite. Nick uses the same method of making the dough as Dorie Greenspan, where the butter and cream cheese are cut into the flour in the food processor, making the pastry tender and flaky. The dough has to rest in the refrigerator for two hours (or overnight), but the wait is totally worth it.
The changes I’ve made to Nick Malgieri’s original recipe are substituting walnuts for the almonds and orange zest for the lemon zest. I love using walnuts at this time of year, and apricot, walnut, and orange are a delicious flavor combination. I’ve also added a little salt to the dough, similar to Dorie Greenspan’s recipe, for that perfect balance of flavors.
Make the dough:
To make the dough, pulse the flour, butter, cream cheese, and salt in a food processor until it starts to clump together and forms large curds. You don’t want to process it until it forms a ball of dough. This keeps the pastry tender and flaky.
Divide the dough into two equal parts and form into a 6-inch disk. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.
Prepare the filling and topping:
Stir the apricot jam until it is smooth and spreadable. I like to either remove or squish up any large chunks. The walnuts for the filling will be roasted first to deepen their flavor. Mix the roasted walnuts with the cinnamon, brown sugar, and orange zest together in a bowl.
For the topping, combine the walnuts and sugar.
Roll the Rugelach:
Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Unwrap and roll out into a 10 to 11-inch circle on a lightly floured surface. Brush half of the apricot jam over the dough
(Check out my new rolling pin that my dad made! 🙂 Love it! )
Sprinkle half of the filling mixture on top of the jam. Using a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut the circle into 12 equal pieces. (Cut the circle into fourths, then each fourth into three pieces.
Roll up each triangle of dough into a crescent starting at the wider outer edge.
Place each crescent on a parchment lined baking sheet.
Brush each crescent with egg wash and sprinkle on the walnut sugar topping mixture.
Bake in a 350 degree oven until golden brown.
Rugelach are the very best eaten on the day they are made. They can be stored in a tightly closed container for several days.
Rugelach can be frozen before they are baked. Bake straight rom the freezer, adding on a few minutes baking time. They can also be frozen after they are baked.
Walnut Apricot Rugelach
Cream Cheese Pastry::
- 1 cup all-purpose flour (198g)
- 8 tablespoons cold butter (113g)
- 4 oz cold cream cheese (113g)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup apricot jam (103g)
- 1/2 cup chopped toasted walnuts (57g)
- 1/4 cup brown sugar (53g)
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup sugar (53g)
- 1/4 cup chopped walnuts (28g)
For the Cream Cheese Pastry:
- Cut the cold butter and cream cheese into 12 small cubes each.
- Pulse in a food processor with the flour and salt until it starts to clump together, forming curds. Don’t process long enough for it to gather into a ball.
- Divide the dough into two equal pieces and flatten into six-inch disks. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for two hours or overnight.
For the Filling:
- Stir the apricot jam until spreadable. Squish any large chunks.
- Combine the roasted walnuts, brown sugar, cinnamon, and orange zest in a bowl.
For the Topping:
- Whisk the egg in a bowl.
- Combine the sugar and walnuts in a bowl.
Roll out and fill the pastry:
- Remove the pastry from the refrigerator and remove plastic.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll each disk out into a 10 to 11-inch circle.
- Brush half of the apricot jam over each circle, then sprinkle half of the walnut, brown sugar, and cinnamon mixture over the jam on each circle.
- Using a sharp knife or a pizza cutter, cut the circles into 12 triangles each. (Cut the circle into fourths and each fourth into 3 pieces.)
- Roll each triangle up into a crescent, starting at the wide end.
- Place on a parchment lined baking sheet.
- Brush each Rugelach with beaten egg, then sprinkle on the walnut and sugar mixture.
- Bake in a 350 degree F oven until golden and beginning to caramelize, about 25-30 minutes.
- Remove from oven and cool on a rack.
- Best eaten the day they are made. However, they can be stored in a closed container at room temperature for several days.