Wednesday, February 29, 2012
The next Baking with Julia recipe is for rugelech. The cookies are perfect for the Jewish holidays, well all aside from Passover. During Rosh Hashanah I bet they'd be great filled with apple butter too. Making the levkar may seem like a hassle, but it is super easy and well worth it, but if you do not feel like making the levkar any kind of fruit butter or jam will suffice. Making your own is a pain in the ass, but well worth it. In our house it will be what we make for the Jewish holidays, or to add some confusion, I may bake them for my annual Holiday Christmas Cookie Swap, so I can "school" all my goyim friends. Rugelech somehow reminds me of home. We never made it, but in Long Island, NY there is rugelech in most bagel stores and Jewish delis.
The rugelech take several stages to make over a three day time span, but doing it this way made it much less overwelming. In fact, they are cooking right now and the end product smells amazing. The dough is a lightly beaten, barely stuck together mash of cream cheese and butter, left in the fridge over night. Meanwhile, apricot and prune levkar is made. Levkar is a Hungarian fruit butter made from either dried apricots or prunes, sugar and some kind of nut. The levkar was super easy to make, all it took was some dried fruits simmered and thrown in to the food processor. The cool part of making the levkar is the left overs. I chose to make both apricot and prune levkar to have two different tastes. Dorie says it is good smeared on bread. The gals usually do not like jellies or jams, but I am going to try it out on them for a snack.
The rugelech had a lot of steps. After letting the dough rest in the fridge and making the levkar I was able to actually make the rolls. Rugelech is made like a jelly roll. First cinnamon, sugar, chopped nuts, dried fruit and the levkar are layered onto the dough. The girls had so much fun adding the layers to the dough and pressing all the yummy ingredients in, though I must say the counter and floor where quite messy when we were done. The cookies are rolled up lengthwise, kinda like a burrito, taking care to make sure you add pieces of the filling in as you go. Then you put the roll in the fridge for a night. The next day before going in the oven they are dipped in a nutty cinnamon sugar mixture. When the cookies bake they smell incredible (did I mention that???). The house smelled like the best cinnamon sugar candle mixed with baking pastry or bread...but better because it was the real thing!
On a side note, currently my face is a blotchy, red mess from eating these delicious cookies, but even so, I cannot stop eating them. Through this baking experience I am realizing that sugar really does not agree with me, no matter how much I want it to. I am wondering if I can make some of the recipes with coconut sugar? Or I need to just eat a little bit of whatever it is that I make, then bake some kind of concoction with coconut sugar or agave nectar to ween myself onto something sweet, but a hell of a lot better for me. The plan with the rugelech was to eat a few of the cookies, then stop, but they are addictive. The mixture of the light cream cheese dough with the not so sweet jammy levkar filling and crunchy, carmelized cinnamon sugar crust just keeps begging to be eaten again and again.