Antonis Achilleos; Prop Styling: Kay E. Clarke; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall
Active Time
40 Mins
Total Time
3 Hours 20 Mins
Chill Time
2 Hours
Yield
4 dozen

Everyone loves homemade cookies during the holidays. These traditional Hanukkah treats are bite-size crescent-shaped cookies that can have any of several fillings including raisins and nuts, poppy seed paste or jam. Like this recipe, rugalach are usually made with a rich cream-cheese dough, which tastes fancy and difficult but is very easy to make. The dough bakes up into a flaky, buttery pastry with a wonderful spice-filled interior. Making this recipe will remind you of making crescent cinnamon rolls as a child and, like those breakfast treats, these cookies will go just as fast. Plan on baking up a batch for a holiday brunch for your overnight guests. Be sure to chill the prepared cookies in the refrigerator for 20 minutes before baking to prevent the filling from leaking out. Homemade food gifts are always a nice idea during the holidays. Package rugelach in a pretty decorative tin and cushion the cookies with colorful tissue paper.

How to Make It

Step 1

Beat softened butter, cream cheese, granulated sugar, and vanilla with a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment on medium speed until creamy, about 1 minute. Stir together flour and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt in a small bowl. Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture, beating on low speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Divide dough into 4 equal portions; flatten each into a disk. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap; chill 2 hours. 

Step 2

Stir together brown sugar, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, allspice, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt in a small bowl. 

Step 3

Working with 1 disk at a time, remove dough from refrigerator; roll into a 10-inch circle (about 1/4 inch thick) on a lightly floured work surface. Spread disk with 1 tablespoon of the very soft butter, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Sprinkle butter evenly with one-fourth of the brown sugar mixture (about 3 packed tablespoons). Sprinkle evenly with one-fourth of the chopped almonds. Cut into 12 wedges; roll up each wedge starting at wide end. Arrange wedges, pointed sides down, on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Place in refrigerator. Chill rugelach 20 minutes. Repeat process with remaining dough, butter, brown sugar mixture, and almonds.

Step 4

Preheat oven to 350°F. Whisk together egg and 1 tablespoon water in a small bowl; brush evenly over rugelach. Sprinkle evenly with sanding sugar. Working in 4 batches, bake until golden brown, 18 to 22 minutes. Cool on baking sheets 10 minutes. Transfer to wire racks, and cool completely, about 15 minutes.