May 9, 2019

Chocolate rugelach

It's always wonderful to try something new in the kitchen and so satisfying when it works out and you discover something delicious to share with your family.  This time, it was rugelach for me!  
I saw Molly Yeh make this recipe for chocolate rugelach on her cooking show recently and I really wanted to give it a try, so I did.  I love it when inspiration hits like that - you see something you think you and your family would like to eat, it looks do-able, and actually turns out to be the case.
I've heard of and seen rugelach before but this was a first taste for me.  Rugelach might be loosely referred to as a cookie but it's really a pastry filled with, in this case, chocolate, but also with many other possibilities such as jam, nuts, cinnamon-sugar, or fruit.  They're a Jewish pastry often made during holidays like Hanukkah but they are surely tasty enough for everyone to enjoy, anytime.  

The pastry is buttery and flaky, unique in that it also includes cream cheese which make it extra tender and adds an extra bit of flavor.  Rugelach are often crescent shaped but these simple rolled pinwheels seem an easier version for me to tackle.  
I tackled it by making a small-batch, which should yield about a dozen rugelach (I ended up with ten but I'll be sure to improve my dough-rolling skills next time because we were clamoring for more).  After making the pastry dough and rolling it out to a thin sheet, it was very satisfying to spread it with a layer of chocolate, then rolling it up tightly and slicing into individual portions that reveal the mesmerizing pinwheel swirl inside.  Prompted by Molly Yeh's love of sprinkles, I decorated some of mine with chocolate sprinkles as well as colorful sanding sugar.  
I had fun making these despite my usual hesitation when it comes to working with pastry dough.  They're fun to look at and so tasty to eat.  If you like hand pies, pastry, chocolate, and having your kitchen smell like chocolate croissants while this is baking - try a batch of rugelach for yourself some time soon!

I made half the original recipe and while I didn't top this batch of rugelach with sea salt, it is an excellent option for anyone who wants a little salt with their sweet.  Next time I make this, I'll shape my dough into more of a rectangular shape before chilling so that when I begin to roll it out, it'll be easier to get the 18 x 9 inch shape we're aiming for; I ended up with too much wasted dough that I trimmed off.   
I've seen many rugelach fillings with chocolate that also incorporate a lot of sugar into it.  I used melted semi-sweet chocolate and we thought the result was sweet enough without need for anything further.  I did think seriously about following Molly's suggestion of grating some almond paste on top of the chocolate but ultimately decided against it in case it made the dough more difficult for me to roll up.  I did, however, add the optional almond extract into the dough.  That actually gave the pastry a lovely almond flavor and my fellas even thought there was almond paste in the rugelach.  Personally, we loved the touch of almond flavor.  
Rolling up the thin pastry tightly over the chocolate and seeing the pinwheel pattern inside is a treat!  After chilling (which you want to do so you get neat clean slices), brush the log with egg wash, sprinkle over some flaky salt (if you like), or some sprinkles or coarse sugar.  They are equally good without anything on top but a colorful pop of color makes them so festive and lovely to look at.
They will also smell amazing - just think buttery pastry and melted chocolate piping away in the oven!  Fat from the cookies will bubble and ooze out while these are baking but that subsides and they look delectable out of the oven.  They taste as good as they look - rich and full of body and chocolate flavor, along with the hint of almond.  Like so many things, the rugelach are best enjoyed fresh from the oven, just cooled, but no one complained eating them several hours after they were done.  In fact, the only question I got were how many were left!  I know I have a winner when my son asks that and starts taking inventory.  
It was a pleasure to meet and get to know the rugelach!  This is a great reminder to keep trying new things even when you feel like you've done a lot.


Chocolate Rugelach
Adapted from Molly Yeh

* Makes 12 cookies (this is half the original recipe for chocolate sea salt rugelach by Molly Yeh)

1 1/4 cup (163g) all-purpose flour 
2 tablespoons (25g) sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 stick (113g) unsalted butter, cold and cubed
4 oz. (113g) cream cheese, straight from the fridge
1 large egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract, optional
3/4 c (130g) chocolate chips or chopped chocolate (I used semi-sweet chocolate)
Egg wash: 1 egg mixed with a splash of milk
Optional toppings: sprinkles, coarse or sanding sugar, flaky sea salt

Make dough: Combine flour, sugar, and salt into the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Add the cubed butter, distributing the pieces evenly over the top of the dry ingredients.  Dollop in the cream cheese in roughly 1" size dollops.  Mix on low-speed until mixture is mostly mealy with some larger chunks of butter and cream cheese intact.  Continue mixing and add the egg yolk, vanilla extract, and almond extract (if using). Mix until dough just comes together.  Wrap dough in plastic wrap, flattening slightly and shaping it into a rough rectangle.  Chill for at least 1 hour, or up to 2 days.

Form rugelach: Start by melting the chocolate in a double boiler, or in a microwave in 30-second increments, stirring frequently.  Set aside to cool slightly while you roll out the dough.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out into a wide, 19 x 8 inch, rectangle (trim away any excess so you have straight edges).  Using an offset spatula, spread the chocolate evenly over the dough, leaving a 1-inch border along the long edge farthest from you (work relatively quickly so the chocolate doesn't harden).  Brush the 1-inch border with a thin layer of egg wash.  Starting on the wide end closest to you, roll the the dough into a tight long log, placing it seam-side down.  Transfer to a cutting board or baking sheet and chill for at least an hour, or up to 2 days (cover with plastic wrap if refrigerator for more than a couple of hours).  

Bake rugelach: Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Brush the top of the log with a thin coating of egg wash.  Sprinkle toppings/decorations (sanding sugar, sprinkles, sea salt) over top, if desired.  Slice into 1 1/2 inch pieces, placing on to the baking sheet spaced about 1 inch apart.  

Bake until golden top brown on top, approximately 24 minutes or so (while baking, some fat will leak out of the cookies; this is normal).  Let cookies cool on the pan for about 5 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.  Enjoy them warm or cooled; they are best the day they're baked but can be stored at room temperature for several days.  (You could also refresh them next day in a low oven for a few minutes.)


  1. wow so festive and yummy! I still have some chocolate left from Easter, this is a great recipe to use them up! Thanks, Monica.

    1. I liked to look at them as much as tasting them. : )



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