Shalom friends, and welcome to this episode of desserts from the shtetl! There aren't many on the list, and these chocolate cinnamon rugelach (along with babka) are maybe the best in class. No idea what I'm talking about? NO worries, say it with me: ROO-GA-LACH! Say it with me. Rugelach are a traditional Ashkenazi (Eastern European) Jewish cookie that supposedly originated in Poland and/or Vienna. They are filled with nuts, jam, chocolate, or any combination of the three.
If you've never had a warm rugelach, you're missing out. These cookies are made with a buttery, short dough that is made using cream cheese and butter (woah) and then stuffed with a chocolate/vanilla/cinnamon paste before being rolled up into cute little chocolate rugelach! They smell INSANE while they are baking, which I attribute to the crack-like combo of chocolate and cinnamon.
They're really easy to make, but they do take a little bit of time, as the dough needs to chill twice. First, you cool it after you make it. You need to let it sit in the fridge so that it gets cold and becomes firmer, this will allow you to roll it out. The second time you chill the dough is after you make the chocolate rugelach, but before you bake them. This is critical to avoid messy, melted cookies and will allow the rugelach to remain in tact.
Let's discuss the nuances of this recipe, and questions that might arise.
I've never made dough with cream cheese. What does it taste like?
Me neither, but I promise you'll love it! The dough for these chocolate rugelach comes together so quickly, and tastes like a rich, buttery and crumbly shortbread.
My dough looks soft. Is that right?
Yes, before chilling, the dough is quite soft and pliable. It should feel sort of like play doh. You should easily be able to shape it into a disk without much of it sticking to the counter.
Can I use margarine instead of butter?
I would not recommend it. You can try and report back, but I've never done it.
I don't have time to chill the dough. Can I skip the chilling time?
Unfortunately not, this dough needs time to chill in the fridge, otherwise it will be impossible to shape and roll. You can make this dough in advance and keep in the fridge for up to a day before making rugelach, if you'd like.
What kind of chocolate should I use for the rugelach?
I prefer bittersweet or dark chocolate for a deeper, richer flavor. I usually purchase Ghiradelli or Scharffen Berger brand for baking. The size does not matter, as long as it's not too thick so you can blitz it in the food processor.
Can I add nuts or jam to my filling?
If using jam, skip the chocolate paste, or only apply a very thin layer, otherwise it will be too thick. If you'd like to add nuts, finely chop them and sprinkle over the chocolate before rolling up. Walnuts are traditional.
I hate cinnamon, can I omit it from the filling?
Yes, you can omit the cinnamon. Just add an extra tsp of cocoa powder to compensate for the added moisture.
I am allergic to eggs. Can I use something else for the wash?
You can use cream, or even water. The idea of the wash is just to help the chocolate rugelach brown, and to allow the sugar topping to stick.
How long do these chocolate rugelach bake for?
15-20 minutes, but keep an eye on them! I like to turn the baking pan halfway so that the cookies bake evenly.Print
Rich, crumbly chocolate cinnamon rugelach, a traditional Jewish cookie
For the dough:
1 cup and 2 tablespoons flour, plus more for the counter
4 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
4 oz butter, at room temperature
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 tsp kosher salt
For the filling:
3/4 cup bittersweet or dark chocolate, chips or chopped
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon sugar
3 tbsp butter, at room temperature
1 tbsp Dutch-process cocoa powder
For the top of the cookie:
1 egg or 1/4 cup of heavy cream or 1/4 cup of water
2-3 tbsp sugar of choice for sprinkling on top
- To make the dough, beat cream cheese and butter together in the bowl of an electric mixer with a paddle attachment. Beat until fluffy, about 2 minutes.
- Add sugar and salt, continuing to mix
- Finally, add flour, little by little until fully combined. Once the dough starts to stick together, stop mixing. This should only take a minute or two. Don't over-mix.
- Remove the dough and place onto a cutting board or counter with a little flour on it. Roll into a ball, then gently pat down into a disk.
- Wrap and allow to cool for 1 hour in the fridge.
- While the dough chills, prepare your filling.
- Add all of your filling ingredients to a food processor and pulse several times. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides and pulse again, until the mixture is well combined and a thick, spreadable paste. You may need to scrape down a few times. Set aside on the counter. Do not put into the fridge or anywhere cold, otherwise this paste will solidify and be impossible to use later.
- Once the dough is chilled, remove from the fridge.
- Cut the dough in half and roll two balls, flatten them both into disks, then roll into a thin circle. See photos for more details
- Working with one circle at a time, dollop ~half of the chocolate paste all over the dough round then gently spread, being careful not to tear the dough. This will take a minute or two. Use the back of a spoon and just gently press the dollops down over and over again, smearing across the dough round until it is mostly covered. A few empty spots are fine, it doesn't have to be perfect.
- Once the dough round is mostly covered, use a large knife to cut it into 12 even triangles. I like to cut in half, then quarters, and then I cut each quarter into 3 slices. This allows for the most even cuts.
- Starting from the outside of the dough round, roll each triangle into itself, towards the center, until it is a rugelach!
- Repeat with the second dough round. You should end up with 24 rugelach.
- Place the rugelach back into the fridge to chill for another 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 350º.
- Place chilled rugelach onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet (you will need 2 or 1 large one) and brush with beaten egg (or cream, or water) and sprinkle with whatever sugar you like. I have used regular sugar, coconut sugar, and turbinado sugar with success.
- Bake rugelach for 15-20 minutes, or until nicely golden brown. Turn the cookie sheet halfway if you see certain cookies getting browner than others.
These are very small cookies, so plan on 2-3 per person. You can easily double this recipe if you'd like to make more!
- Category: Sweets
- Method: Oven
- Cuisine: Jewish
Keywords: jewish recipes, jewish dessert, jewish baked goods, rugelach, rugelach recipe, chocolate rugelach, chocolate cinnamon rugelach, rugelach recipe, jewish rugelach, jewish cookies
Want more Jewish recipes? Check out my personal favorite: Herby Matzo Ball Soup!