With all the hustle of getting ready to go to BlogHer Food, I somehow neglected to mention that I guest posted over at Frosting for the Cause last week. Frosting for the Cause is a year-long project in which a different blogger guest posts each day, sharing a story and a cookie or cupcake recipe. Then each of us donates our baked goods, and makes a monetary gift of $25 to the Canadian or American Cancer Society. I shared these spelt rugelach cookies in honor of my maternal grandma Bessie, who died of ovarian cancer in 2005.
Bessie loved to cook and bake and we were very close all of my life. I feel very lucky in that she lived until I was well into my 30s, and that she was there for milestones like me finishing graduate school, getting married, and having my two kids: her greatest joy was in being their great grandma.
When I was thinking about what recipe to make for the guest post, I was initially stumped because I don’t bake all that much for my blog. All of my recipes utilize all natural, whole foods ingredients, I stay away from refined sugar and white flour, and try to keep things gluten-free. I decided to do a cookie made with spelt flour (not gluten-free, but more nutritious than using white flour) and sweetened with organic cane sugar and then it hit me… rugelach! Rugelach is, to me, the quintessential Jewish cookie just like Bessie was the quintessential Jewish grandma.
If you aren’t familiar with rugelach, it’s a rolled cookie often filled with cinnamon sugar and nuts; rugelach may also be filled with jam (usually apricot or raspberry). Rugelach seems to have originated in Eastern Europe, and came to America with immigrants of Askenazi Jewish heritage. Rugelach are standard fare for most Jewish holidays, but they’re delicious anytime, really.
Rugelach dough is usually made with cream cheese, but here I have lightened it up a little by substituting Greek yogurt. The dough is simple to throw together in your mixer, then I recommend letting it rest in the refrigerator overnight before rolling out the cookies (this allows the flavor of the dough to develop, plus it makes them easier to roll).
When rolling out the dough, don’t be afraid to use quite a bit of flour if your dough is at all sticky- it’s a forgiving cookie…hard to mess up…so no need for your rolled out circle or wedges to look perfect or anything. Make sure not to use too much jam or it will ooze out during baking- a thin layer is best.
Jam Filled Spelt Rugelach
Makes 16-24 crescent shaped rugelach
1 stick (4 oz.) room temperature salted organic butter
1/2 cup (4 oz.) plain organic Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons organic cane sugar
2 cups organic spelt or all-purpose flour
your favorite jam (raspberry and apricot are traditional)
powdered sugar for dusting the rugelach- optional
1. Place butter and yogurt in the bowl of an electric stand mixer and cream until light. Add sugar and flour and mix until they are combined and a dough is formed.
2. Roll the dough into a ball and then cut into two equal pieces. Roll each of these into a ball, wrap in plastic, and store in the refrigerator overnight.
3. Remove dough balls from refrigerator 15-30 minutes before you want to make the cookies and preheat the oven to 3oo degrees F.
4. On a well-floured surface (I used all-purpose flour for this), roll each ball of dough into a circle. Spread the dough with a thin layer of jam. Using a pizza cutter or a sharp knife, cut the circle into 8-12 equal triangles/wedges (depending on how big you want the cookies to be).
5. Starting with the wide edge, roll each triangle up, and place the cookies, pointy edge tucked under, on a baking sheet lined with a silpat or parchment paper. If you like, you can "curve" the cookies into crescent shapes.
6. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove to a wire rack and let cool.
If you don’t want to make the crescent-shaped wedges, another way to make rugelach is to roll out a rectangle, spread it with the jam, then roll it up long-ways. Once it’s rolled into a long log, cut 1-2 inch slices all the way along, then place these on your silpat or parchment-lined baking sheet cut edge down.
If you like, you can make turn one ball of dough into crescent rugelach and make the second ball the other way, as I did. I used a pomegranate-raspberry jam in the crescents and an apricot butter gifted to me by Julia in the others: I absolutely love them both.
Rugelach can be stored in a covered container for a few days at room temperature, but is best stored longer-term in the refrigerator or freezer. These particular rugelach make a fairly wholesome snack with tea; I’ve also been known to eat them for breakfast.
If you are able to make a donation to cancer research in honor of a woman in your life, that would be really terrific. If you’d like, you can do so by following one of the links here…thank you.