Friday, December 23, 2011

Apple Pie Rugelach

Although I have decidedly taken a vacation from holiday baking this year (sacrilege, I know) at least my mom is here to pick up the slack.  While elbow deep in Buckeye cookies, chocolate-dipped meringues, dark chocolate cherry fudge and gingerbread, she somehow found the time to write up the exploits of her first attempt at rugelach--Enjoy!

To help celebrate my first year of retirement I decided to attempt something that I had never before had the time to do...Holiday Baking!  I figured that Hilary must have gotten the baking gene from me, right? Wrong!  While I could handle the simple cut-outs from pre-made Pillsbury gingerbread cookie dough and Chocolate-Almond Meringues, Apple Pie Rugelach was more challenging for a beginning baker.

I confess that I had never even heard of rugelach until I saw the recipe in the December issue of Good Housekeeping and then saw some on display at Whole Foods.  After scanning the ingredients and making sure there was nothing that would be hard to find I decided to tackle this treat [note from Hilary: we scoured THREE stores looking for dried apples. Just saying].  After some trial and error (duh, cutting the dough incorrectly) and advice from Hilary the final batch looked pretty good and even the rejects were tasty.

Here are some pointers I would have liked to have seen included with the recipe:

1) Parchment paper is a MUST as the jelly oozes out of the sides. I even decreased the jelly by 1 tablespoon for the last 3 batches.  2) Immediately remove the rugelach from the jelly puddles or they will cool attached to your cookie.  3) I reduced the baking time to 23 minutes, this depends on how well-done you like your rugelach.

Bring on the next challenge!  But maybe not until next year.

Apple Pie Rugelach
     from Good Housekeeping, makes 64 cookies
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 package (8-ounce) cream cheese, softened 
2 cups all-purpose flour 
1/2 teaspoon salt

4 ounces (1 1/2 cups) dried apples, finely chopped 
1/2 cup walnuts, finely chopped 
1/4 cup packed brown sugar 
3/4 cup apple jelly
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting

Cinnamon Sugar:
1 cup granulated sugar 
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon 

Trial and error.  Even the rejects were tasty.
1.  Prepare dough: In large bowl, with mixer on medium speed, beat butter and cream cheese until creamy, scraping bowl occasionally. Reduce speed to low; gradually beat in flour and salt just until blended, scraping bowl occasionally. Divide dough into 4 equal pieces; flatten each into a disk. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight, until dough is firm enough to roll. 

2.  Meanwhile, prepare filling: In medium bowl, combine apples, walnuts, and brown sugar. 

3.  Prepare Spice Sugar: In small bowl, combine sugar and cinnamon.

4.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 large cookie sheets with parchment paper.

5.  Sprinkle work surface with 2 tablespoons Spice Sugar. Place 1 disk dough on top of sugar; turn over to coat both sides. Roll dough into 10-inch round, turning round over a few times and sprinkling dough with 2 more tablespoons Spice Sugar to coat both sides.

6.  Spread top of round with 3 tablespoons jelly, then sprinkle with 1/2 cup filling, leaving 1/2-inch border around edge. With knife, cut dough into 16 equal wedges. Starting at wide end, roll up each wedge jelly-roll fashion. Place rugelach, 1 inch apart, on prepared cookie sheet, point side down.

7.  Bake rugelach 30 to 33 minutes or until dough is browned and cooked through. Immediately transfer to wire rack to cool.

8.  Repeat with remaining dough, Spice Sugar, jelly, and filling. Store cookies in airtight containers at room temperature up to 1 week or in freezer up to 3 months. Dust with confectioners' sugar to serve.

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