Cream Cheese Rugelach Recipe

These cream cheese rugelach with a cinnamon-raisin filling are drawing raves as being “flaky,” “tender,” “easy,” even “perfect.” 

Cream Cheese Rugelach Recipe

This tender, flaky cream cheese rugelach recipe came to author Tracey Zabar via chef Jason Weiner of Almond in Brooklyn who in turn acquired it from grandmother Risa Smith at a baby shower. That’s how the best recipes come to be circulated, yes? Someone experiences something transcendent, instinctively knows it’s a keeper, kindly requests the details, thankfully embraces the need for it in one’s life, openly shares the recipe with others in turn, and then bakes happily ever after. The end. This recipe has been updated. Originally published December 6, 2011.Renee Schettler Rossi

LC Not Your Grandma's Rugelach Recipe Note

We’ve noticed that most folks’ understanding of the best rugelach recipe tends to be the rugelach recipe their grandma made. Obviously, this cream cheese rugelach recipe isn’t that rugelach recipe. However, it was handed out by a grandmother, which ought to count for something. What also ought to count is that our testers found the dough to be “flaky,” “tender,” “a dream to work with,” “easy,” even “perfect,” although you can be the judge of that.

Cream Cheese Rugelach Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 40 M
  • 2 H
  • Makes about 36 rugelach

Ingredients

  • For the cream cheese dough
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the work surface
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into chunks and chilled
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, cut into chunks
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream or Greek yogurt
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • For the raisin filling
  • One 15-ounce box golden raisins
  • Enough water to cover the raisins
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup walnuts or hazelnuts
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons rum
  • For the apricot filling
  • One 15-ounce box apricots
  • Enough water (or orange juice) to cover the apricots
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup walnuts or hazelnuts
  • One 12-ounce jar orange marmalade
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons orange brandy

Directions

  • Make the cream cheese dough
  • 1. Toss the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor and pulse just until combined. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles mostly coarse sand with a few pea-size blobs of butter. Add the cream cheese and sour cream and pulse just until the ingredients come together into a somewhat shaggy dough.
  • 2. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and divvy it up into 4 equal portions, being careful not to overwork the dough. Gently pat each portion of dough into a disk, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for about 45 minutes.
  • Make one of the fillings
  • 3. For the raisin filling: Dump the raisins in a medium saucepan and pour in just enough cold water to cover. Add the sugar, salt, cinnamon, and vanilla and gently simmer over low heat until almost all the water is absorbed and the raisins have turned plump, anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes, depending on the heat and and size of the pan. Let the raisins cool slightly. Transfer the mixture to a blender or food processor and pulse until the raisins are coarsely chopped. Add the walnuts and process until a paste forms. Stir in as much rum as you fancy and let the filling cool to room temperature.

    For the apricot filling: Dump the apricots in a medium saucepan and pour in just enough cold water to cover. Add the sugar, salt, cinnamon, and vanilla. Gently simmer over low heat until almost all the water has been absorbed and the apricots have turned soft and plump, 30 to 60 minutes, depending on the heat and the size of the pan. Let the apricot mixture cool slightly. Transfer the apricot mixture to a blender or food processor and pulse until it’s coarsely chopped. Add the walnuts and marmalade and process until a paste forms. Stir in as much brandy as you fancy and let the filling cool to room temperature.
  • Assemble the rugelach
  • 4. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • 5. Roll 1 portion of the dough into a rectangle somewhere between 1/8 and 1/4 inch thick. (If the dough doesn’t roll easily, let it rest at room temperature for a few minutes and then try again.) Spread the dough with up to 1/4 of the filling, smoothing the filling almost but not quite all the way to the edge of the dough. Starting with the long side of the dough, tightly roll up the dough and filling into a jelly roll. Using your palms, gently flatten the roll ever so slightly and wrap it in plastic wrap. Place the filled rolled dough in the freezer or refrigerator and repeat with the remaining dough and filling.
  • 6. Take 1 of the filled rolled dough portions out of the fridge or freezer and cut it into 1 1/2-inch-wide slices. Place each slice, cut side down, on the prepared sheet. Whisk the egg yolks and brush very lightly over each slice and then sprinkle, sparingly or generously, as you see fit, with sugar. Refrigerate for at least 10 minutes. Repeat with the remaining portions of dough.
  • 7. Bake the rugelach for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden and crisp. Let the rugelach cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. We think you can figure out what to do next.
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Recipe Testers Reviews

Recipe Testers Reviews
Testers Choice
Amy Iacopi

Dec 03, 2015

I hate the P word, but dare I say, these cream cheese rugelach were perfect. I had two (admittedly, they were hungry and male) other testers who seemed to agree — two dozen of these little guys were gone in less than two hours. I used mascarpone instead of cream cheese and made the raisin filling. The raisins took nearly an hour on low heat to absorb almost all the water, so start that before making the pastry. The recipe reads very easily. Not only were these gorgeous, but they were perfectly spiced, with a nice dough that was both lightly sweetened and flaky. Also, I don’t really trust myself handling dough, yet these were a breeze to roll out and put together. Who knows, maybe I’ll try croissants next!

Testers Choice
Steve Dunn

Dec 03, 2015

It’s official. Now that I’ve made this fabulous cream cheese rugelach recipe, I am spoiled forever for lesser rugelach. I found this recipe to be nearly perfect, and the resulting rugelach absolutely delicious. The fat-rich dough (two sticks of butter AND a block of cream cheese!) was a dream to work with and came together beautifully in my processor with the recipe’s clear instructions. I ran the Cuisinart just until the dough started to pull from the sides of the bowl and gather together in a mass. While I prepped the raisin filling, the four thin discs of dough rested in my fridge for about one hour. My raisins, just covered with water, took about 30 minutes over a medium-low flame to reach plump perfection, and smelled wonderful as they cooked in their cinnamon-spiced bath. To the hydrated raisins and walnut puree I added two tablespoons of a dark, Haitian rum that really made the filling pop. The cookies were easy to form and cut, though I had about 1/4 cup of the filling left over. They baked up all nice and brown in 23 minutes with my oven at 375℉ on the convection setting. I shifted my sheet pans top to bottom and front to back halfway through the cooking time. Once cooled, I found the rugelach to be perfectly delicious, the crust soft and rich, but with a nice crunch from the crystalized sugar sprinkled on top. The gooey raisin filling was wonderfully spiced, and is reminiscent of my favorite ice cream flavor of all time…rum raisin!

Testers Choice
Melissa Maedgen

Dec 03, 2015

I don’t think I’m fit to judge what would constitute “transcendent” rugelach, but this was very good. One of my friends stated it was the best he had ever had. I made the apricot filling, although the recipe made almost twice as much filling as I needed for the amount of pastry. The other issue I had with the recipe is that it would have been helpful to give an approximate size for the rectangle of dough you are supposed to roll out. The cylinders of dough are easiest to roll up if you keep the dough cold, and don’t roll too thin. And don’t skip the step of chilling the cylinders for a bit before slicing, as once again, the rugelach dough is easier to handle cold.

Testers Choice
Linda B.

Dec 03, 2015

This is a delicious cream cheese rugelach recipe. Tender and flaky. The dough was easy to work with. Everybody at work loved them! Unfortunately, a lot of the filling ended up on the cookie sheet when I baked them, but they were still good. Next time I’ll let the logs of filled pastry almost freeze or get very cold before I cut and bake the rugelach.

Testers Choice
Sheri C.

Dec 03, 2015

Really terrific cream cheese rugelach. The dough turned out to be really nice, flaky, and easy to work with.

Comments
Comments
  1. One of my all time favorites!!! I pretty much lived on rugelach from 17 to 18 years old~ <3

    • Renee Schettler Rossi, LC Editor-in-Chief says:

      And see how lovely you turned out, Jessica?! Clearly more of us should incorporate rugelach into our everyday routine…

  2. Zanne says:

    In my grandparents’ German/Hungarian household, we used to make dough like this (w/cream cheese & butter). I always make my own apricot butter and prune butter. They are my favorites – sometimes I put a dab of each on the Kifli. If you roll the dough and cut into squares (or circles) and fold over, instead of the rolled rugelach style, the filling stays where you put it. You can just fold 2 of the corners over the center to show the filling or pinch all four corners over the center. YUM–I can feel the lbs coming on!

    • Renee Schettler Rossi, LC Editor-in-Chief says:

      Your rendition sounds lovely, Zanne. I’d be hard-pressed to name a favorite between apricot or prune butter, both sound tempting…

  3. Danielle says:

    Risa’s rugelach are famous all the way from Montreal, Québec, to the Dominican Republic, where we had the priviledge to taste them for the first time. And what a delight they are! Thanks for the detailed recipe.

  4. Vandana says:

    I made these this weekend and my hubby loved them. Great for our own Superbowl party!

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      We’re not surprised to hear that your hubby loved them, Vandana, not at all. Though we’re really tickled that you took the time to let us know. There’s another recipe from the same book, One Sweet Cookie from the lovely Tracey Zabar, which readers are raving about and which you may wish to try. It’s for a simple but spectacular shortbread-like sugar cookie.

  5. Jamie says:

    Thanks for reposting this link on FB! My grandma never made rugelach that I know of and if she did I doubt they would be this gorgeous! I love rugelach and am always searching for a fabulous recipe Thanks for this one which will be made for Hanukkah!

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      You’re quite welcome, Jamie. Tracy Zabar certainly knows her cookies, and fortunately we know a good thing when we see it..look forward to hearing what you think…

  6. I love these rugelach! My mother used to make schencken, using twice as much butter and twice as much cream cheese. This is a much lighter dough and easier to roll. I tried everything for fillings: melted semisweet chocolate (sometimes with walnuts), apricot jam right from the jar, walnuts with cinnamon and sugar, and cinnamon chips. I am going to try cinnamon cream cheese with the cinnamon chips. If you use the melted choc., you should put a little melted butter on the dough so you you can spread the chocolate. You could probably try Nutella, that’s a thought. Go for it! Really yummy!

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      Ellen, swell to hear how much you love these rugelach, and lovely to hear all your filling suggestions! I just gained my holiday seven pounds thinking about the various resulting rugelach…!

  7. Finally getting these on the pan today–with plum butter from my summer canning cooked down with pecans. Can’t wait. Merry Christmas!

    • David Leite says:

      Sounds incredible, Jennifer. Take a picture and send it along. And…Merry Christmas!

      • Thank you, and you also. They turned out great. The dough was surprisingly easy to work with, since it was quite sticky when going in to the fridge. I made one quarter with my homemade raspberry jam, cooked down to a caramel consistency. It still ran out the sides, but enough stayed in to be incredible. One quarter received the plum butter cooked down likewise, with the addition of finely chopped walnuts. These had a more tart flavor, but definitely good. The remaining half received butter, then a mixture of brown sugar, cinnamon, chopped walnuts and mini semi-sweet chocolate chips. I used the rolling pin over plastic wrap to press the crumb filling into the dough before rolling. I made the raspberry bites the size you recommend (9 pieces to a quarter), and the others smaller (16 pieces to a quarter.) I prefer the smaller pieces. They were better for people like me who want to try everything. Of course, my friend who requested the raspberry filling appreciated the larger bites. I will see if my son can help me post a photo.

        Rugelach

        • David Leite says:

          Jennifer, it appears as if you should go for your PhD. in rugelach making. They sound fantastic. Although I prefer larger ones, I can see the benefit of really small bites. Happy holidays and great photo!

  8. Marlene says:

    I always make my Rugelach this way, so much easier than the individual crescents! This dough was lovely, very easy to roll out. I made it the night before and let it soften a bit before rolling. In response to the commenter who wondered about the size of the rolled rectangle, I patted each piece of dough into a 4″ x 3″ x 1″ rectangle and rolled it to about 11″ x 7″, trimming the edges where necessary. I used rolling guide strips that made it easy to roll to 1/8″. I not only chilled the rolls but also chilled the cut slices before baking; my filling did not run out. I made 3/4 apricot/hazelnut and the rest with Nutella, sprinkling all with cinnamon sugar. My only issue is the baking time: I took mine out at 21 minutes and they were a tad overdone; 375º/350º convection (what I did) seems high to me. Next time I’ll do 350/325º and check earlier. That said, they are still wonderfully flaky and tasty.

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      Marlene, many thanks, what wonderfully helpful notes you’ve shared! So glad to hear you like this as much as we do. Perhaps you’d consider being a recipe tester for us…

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