Dorie Greenspan’s rugelach is exactly what you’d expect from the incomparable Dorie. This rugelach combines a tender, flaky, and tangy cream cheese dough, rolled around loads of fillings that include, well…cinnamon sugar, chopped nuts, bittersweet chocolate, jam, and currants, or anything else you could desire.
Sometime during the first year of my marriage, I visited my mother-in-law in her kitchen. There she was, listening to the radio, whistling (she is a formidable whistler), and rolling cream-cheese dough around raisins and nuts to form the crescent-shaped cookies known as rugelach. I was spellbound—I’d had no idea that rugelach could be made at home. As far as I knew, rugelach, like ketchup or ships-in-bottles, were made only in laboratories. But here was my mother-in-law shaping the cookies with ease. And a short time later, there I was, eating them with ease. These cookies weren’t like the rugelach my mother bought every week at the local German bakery—they were much better. I was so excited I asked for the recipe.
My mother-in-law wrote it out in her precise hand on a 3-by-5 index card. And, as she wrote, she told me that this recipe was not exactly the same as the one her mother used, that it had come from Mrs. Strauss, her next-door neighbor, and that she was sure I’d have no problem making the cookies as long as I didn’t overmix the dough. She was right. I was a newcomer to the world of baking, but I had no problem with the dough, the only potentially tricky part of the process.
This is a very old recipe, and I have no doubt that everyone who has made it has added or subtracted a little bit to make it her own—and my mom-in-law, Mrs. Strauss, and I expect you to do the same.–Dorie Greenspan
☞ Table of Contents
Dorie Greenspan’s Rugelach FAQs
Can I freeze rugelach dough?
Wrapped airtight, the dough can be frozen for up to 2 months. This is especially helpful when you’re baking loads of cookies for the holidays—make a pile of dough and roll out batches as you need ’em.
How do I make rugelach ahead of time?
The unbaked cookies can be covered and refrigerated overnight or frozen for up to 2 months; don’t defrost before baking, just add a couple of minutes to the baking time. Again, just pull ’em out when guests arrive and you’ve quickly got a spectacular snack.
Can I fill rugelach with anything else?
You certainly can. Rugelach is perfect for filling with nearly anything you like. Chopped cherries, cinnamon sugar, chocolate bits, jam, chopped dried fruit (figs and apricots are outstanding), and nuts.
Dorie Greenspan’s Rugelach
For the dough
- 4 ounces cold cream cheese cut into 4 pieces
- 8 tablespoons cold unsalted butter cut into 4 pieces
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
For the filling
- 2/3 cup raspberry jam, apricot jam, or marmalade
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2/3 cup chopped nuts (I prefer pecans, but you can use walnuts or almonds)
- 1/4 cup plump, moist dried currants
- 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate finely chopped, or 2/3 cup store-bought mini chocolate chips
For the glaze
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon cold water
- 2 tablespoons sugar preferably decorating (coarse) sugar
Make the dough
- Let the cream cheese and butter rest on the counter for 10 minutes—you want them to be slightly softened but still cool. Put the flour and salt in a food processor, scatter over the chunks of cream cheese and butter, and pulse the machine 6 to 10 times. Then process, scraping down the sides of the bowl often, just until the dough forms large curds—don't work it so long that it forms a ball on the blade.
- Turn the dough out, gather it into a ball, and divide it in half. Shape each half into a disk, wrap the disks in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or up to 1 day.
Make the filling
Make the cookies
- Pull one packet of dough from the refrigerator. If it is too firm to roll easily, either leave it on the counter for about 10 minutes or give it a few bashes with your rolling pin.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into an 11-to-12-inch circle. Spoon (or brush) a thin gloss of jam over the dough and sprinkle with half of the cinnamon sugar. Scatter half of the nuts, half of the currants, and half of the chopped chocolate over the dough. Cover the filling with a piece of wax paper and gently press the filling into the dough, then remove the paper and save it for the next batch.
- Using a pizza wheel or a sharp knife, cut the dough into 16 wedges, or triangles. (The easiest way to do this is to cut the dough into quarters, then to cut each quarter into 4 triangles.) Starting at the base of each triangle, roll the dough up so that each cookie becomes a little crescent. Arrange the roll-ups on one baking sheet, making sure the points are tucked under the cookies and refrigerate.
- Repeat with the second packet of dough, and refrigerate the cookies for at least 30 minutes before baking.
- Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).
Make the glaze
- Stir the egg and water together, and brush a bit of this glaze over each rugelach. Sprinkle the cookies with sugar.
- Bake the cookies for 20 to 25 minutes, rotating the sheets from top to bottom and front to back at the midway point, until they are puffed and golden. Move the cookies to racks to cool to just warm or to room temperature.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
Have you ever tried a Dorie Greenspan recipe that wasn’t delicious? The dough for these rugelach was super easy to work with and her suggestions on what to fill the rugelach with allowed a lot of flexibility. I tended to veer away from her suggested jams (I used apple butter) and fillings (I used raisins), based on what I had in my cupboard. The results were yummy, to say the least.
Disclaimer: Though Leite’s recipe tests are ‘blind,” without information about the writer or cookbook they’re published in, I have to confess that I instantly recognized these as “my” cookies. Well, Dorie Greenspan’s. These flaky, elegant crescents have been on my holiday tray yearly over the last decade, and I always ask myself why they’re relegated to special occasions.
For this recipe test, I was very excited to make them again–and I was prepared for no surprises. Surprise! The addition of weight measures, as well as the subtly rewritten directions, have improved the ease and clarity of the recipe. There is literally no question you might have that isn’t clarified in the text: timing of food processor mixing was exact, with accurate descriptors of the dough; preparing for filling and rolling circles of dough fully prepares you to spread, sprinkle, and roll; and the pointers and side notes answer all the what-ifs.
I was operating with a limited pantry, so my filling was orange marmalade, cinnamon sugar, finely chopped almonds, and minced golden raisins (no chocolate). I appreciated the instruction to press the filling into the dough with wax paper, but not having any on hand, I sprinkled my almonds on, then hit it real quick with the rolling pin before dabbing with jam, raisins, and sugar. No eggs in my fridge—so I took a hint from vegan baking, and used the ‘aquafaba’ (bean-cooking liquid) for brushing instead, which browned nicely and velcroed the coarse sugar well. Bake time was 25 minutes for me for golden pastry, and I removed fairly immediately to a rack, leaving any bitter, over browned jam on the baking sheet. Oh, and the end result? Flawless.
I LOVE rugelach. Positively adore it. And I had never made it before. When I realized that I had all the ingredients needed for this recipe in my house, I was overjoyed. Talk about the most simple pastry in the history of pastry?!? Three ingredients in the food processor. I whipped up the dough in seconds. Put it in the fridge as directed. Took a nap. Then made the filling.
I used raspberry jam I had from last year’s berry harvest (raspberries are trying to take over my entire property…). I had some bittersweet chocolate and pecans, and when the dough was ready, assembled as directed. Admittedly with all of the filling smeared on they looked less than appetizing (kind of a gory pizza). But once cut, rolled, and chilled they were darling. I chilled a few and baked that evening. Froze the rest and baked them in the morning.
I forgot to egg wash the first batch, and I must tell you, the egg wash makes a BIG difference. Not only did the cookies with the wash taste better, but they also leaked far less filling too. Do not skip the egg wash! Also, they taste way better the following day. This is a cookie that likes its rest.
I personally found jam AND chocolate AND nuts AND cinnamon sugar to be a tad too much. Especially with the sharp raspberry, and the bittersweet chocolate. I plan to play around with future batches. Maybe just nuts and jam, maybe some chocolate spread and nuts…This is certainly a recipe worth revisiting.
These are good; you should try them. When I first looked at the recipe, I thought the recipe looked complex and fussy, but that could not be further from the truth. The dough is made quickly and is easy to work with. The filling is yummy. And aside from the refrigeration time, these work up quickly.
My one change would be to the raspberry jam. Don’t get me wrong, the jam is necessary and delicious. The recipe says to brush a thin gloss of jam over the dough. I would have liked the taste of the jam to be more pronounced and next time (and there will be a next time) I’ll do a slightly thicker layer of jam. I think it will balance more evenly with the amount of chocolate called for.
I used pecans as my nuts of choice and substituted raisins as I didn’t have currents available to me. I baked these for 23 minutes. This recipe made 32 delicious cookies.
To make the dough just right for the Rugelach, it’s critical to pulse as directed in the food processor. This allows the dough to form from large curds and not over blend and make it too soft, as would have happened had I used my mixer.
For ease, I melted the jam (orange marmalade) in the microwave in 25-second increments for a total of about 2 minutes. I used a silicone pastry mat to roll out each round. I brushed the marmalade to within 1/4 inch of the edge, adding the nuts (almonds) and chocolate, and using the wax paper to press into the crust worked great. I’d suggest equally measuring out filling for each round as my first round was a tad overfilled and leaked out during baking.
I baked the cookies for 25 minutes, rotating halfway. They were perfectly golden, tender, and delightful tasting treats. I loved the orange, almond, and chocolate combination and would love to experiment with other filling flavors. This recipe made 32 cookies.
Wonderful little bites of pastry with a hint of citrus. Just perfect with a cup of hot tea or coffee. I used sweet orange marmalade, chopped pecans, and mini chocolate chips (no currants) and they were a hit with both young and old alike in our house. Super flaky and a slight chew from the glaze on the edges. Definitely a keeper!
This dough is soft, very simple to prepare, and easy to work with in the form of crescents, and the filling is crunchy, not too sweet, and slightly caramelized, which is a delicious combination. The recipe can be made with other filling ingredients, which is also why you can prepare it over and over again.
Making this recipe was the highlight of my week. I’ve had this one on my baking radar for an age. Having finally made it, I wonder what took me so long. My ground zero for rugelach is a long-closed bakery in the San Fernando Valley. The long thin tangy cookies were dusted with cinnamon and walnuts. I tried in vain to find a substitute, but no other rugelach measured up until now. The making and tasting of this recipe was a joyful experience.
This recipe is practically perfect in every way (apologies to Mary Poppins). As Dorie Greenspan mentions in the headnotes, she was new to baking when she was given this recipe. It is perfect for a novice baker. The instructions are clear and concise. The end product looks and tastes wonderful. Using the food processor to make the dough further simplifies production. The only suggestion I would make is to recommend plumping the currants in hot water for about 10 minutes. This extra step will ensure that they are suitably moist and pliable for the cookies.
The dough is easy to work with and it yields 32 cookies. I used apricot jam and walnuts instead of pecans. In a nod to my taste memory, I made half of the cookies using only the jam, walnuts, and cinnamon sugar. I added the chocolate chips to the second batch. I knew that I had hit the jackpot after my first taste of the finished product. They were tart, tangy, and tasted exactly like the ones I remembered. These are tiny pieces of comfort. They go well with tea or as a light dessert. I am trying to avoid eating the entire batch in one sitting. These rugelach are worthy of a Taster’s Choice designation! My husband loved these. I’ll be making them on a regular basis.
I’m a big fan of rugelach, and have tried many recipes for it. This one is very straightforward, is relatively easy to make compared with many of the rugelach recipes I have tried, and yields a very tasty result. I’ve been baking so much with this shelter-in-place that I decided to try and be a little kind to my waistline and used only one of the discs of dough. The second disc, I wrapped up and froze, along with the directions for making the rugelach, when I want to bake the other batch. What is so nice, is that I will be able to enjoy another 16 rugelach, without having to make the dough.
Most of the rugelach recipes that I have made have one or two of these ingredients, but not all of them. They usually have jams and nuts, raisins/currants and nuts, or chocolate. This recipe throws everything into the mix. It made for a very tasty rugelach.
The pastry is tender and has just enough flakiness without crumbling. The combination of chocolate chips and jam adds the right amount of sweetness. The toasted pecans bring out the nutty flavor that is needed and adds a bit of crunch. The cinnamon sugar is a slight hint of flavor that makes these unique.
Because of the size I baked them for 20 minutes and they were golden and crispy. Any longer and they would have burned. I like the option of using different jams and nuts to mix it up. The added cinnamon sugar was something I wasn’t expecting to use but added a nice hint of flavor.
I only got 24 rugelach as I cut each of my circles of pastry into 12 segments (so each quarter was cut into 3 pieces). I did this because I felt that the pieces would have been too small otherwise. In the picture, the pieces look as large as croissants, but in fact, they are small about 7cm from end to end when they were rolled.
I rested the pastry overnight in the fridge after making it, before proceeding with the rest of the recipe. My main criticism is that I found it hard to roll out the circles of dough large enough to feel that I could cut each circle into 16 segments. When my circle was about 10 inches wide the pastry was as thin as I could make it. I’d suggest perhaps using twice as much dough next time.
I cooked my frozen rugelach for 23 minutes each, but I thought they looked a bit overdone and so I would try cooking them for 20 minutes next time. My finished pastries did not look as nicely golden brown or as large as those in the picture, so this is why I would suggest cooking them for less time. They tasted best when they were still warm as the chocolate has melted. When they were left to cool they set harder and were not as appealing.
Originally published March 3, 2006