These are new cookies for me. Since I'm Hungarian, I usually make kiefles for Christmas -- they're similar to these. Although Barefoot Contessa makes rugelach look easy, I wouldn't recommend them for a beginning cook. First of all, plan to spend some time in the kitchen if you do make these. They're not a simple drop cookie. As I read reviews on recipe sites, I found that the most cited problem was the oozing of the filling. Interestingly, I didn't have that problem, except for a few cookies. I put all the filling ingredients in my food processor (like I do for kiefles) instead of brushing on the jam and covering it with the nut/sugar. But I ran out of my filling when I got to the second tray, so the last few cookies needed filling. I spread those with jam and sprinkled nuts, cinnamon and sugar over the jam. Those are the ones that oozed. (I increased the filling ingredient amounts below so it should now be enough.) Also, many of the reviewers felt the process was expedited by using a pizza cutter to cut the dough. Since I rolled the dough between sheets of wax paper, I hesitated to cut the paper with the pizza cutter. I used an ordinary butter knife, and it worked fine. I had a damp paper towel on hand and I wiped the knife on the paper towel after I cut one line. (whew, that sounds weird, cutting one line, huh?) I also used the butter knife to spread the filling over the dough. I tried a spoon and a spatula and the knife worked best.
How can I explain to you how good these cookies are? Even though you will get a good number (if you make them small), it will not be enough. I could eat these all day long. Of course, I'm the same way with kiefles. After quickly downing 6 cookies, I put the rest in the freezer and asked Guy to padlock it. These are not lo-cal. And, by the way, this is not Barefoot Contessa's recipe. It's actually from allrecipes.com, submitted by Jackie, and rated 5 out of 5 by 87 members. One member said, "I have many rugelach recipes, but this is truly the best I have ever made."
INGREDIENTS: 2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup unsalted butter, very cold
1 8-oz. package cream cheese (I used Neufchatel) very cold
1/3 cup sour cream very cold (I used Lite)
1-1/3 cup walnuts, toasted
2/3 cup white sugar
4 tsp. ground cinnamon
2/3 cup raisins
3/4 cup apricot or peach jam or preserves
For rolling the rugelach: 1/2 cup sugar, 1 tsp. cinnamon
DIRECTIONS: Make dough: In work bowl of food processor, place the flour and salt and pulse briefly to combine. Cut cold butter and cream cheese into smaller pieces and add to flour. Pulse two or three times, then add the sour cream and pulse till mixture comes together. Separate into 4 pieces, and wrap each piece in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 2 hours or up to 2 days.
Making filling: Place toasted walnuts in work bowl of food processor and pulse till they are ground fine. Add sugar, cinnamon, raisins and jam or preserves and pulse till mixture is a coarse paste. Refrigerate till you are ready to make cookies.
To make cookies: Take filling out of fridge and bring to room temperature, so that it spreads easily. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. (Did you know you can reuse it? Just wipe it down -- it lasts a long time.) Cut two sheets of wax paper like you would for a pie crust. Lightly flour one sheet. (I put the flour in a sieve and shook it over the paper, making a light dusting.) Take one piece of dough out of the fridge, and roughly shape into a rectangular block, like a brick shape. It's easier if you do this now, rather than when you roll it. Sprinkle flour over the top of the "brick." Using a rolling pin, roll the dough the long way to lengthen it. When you get it so that it fills up the length of the wax paper, roll it the other way. Be sure you check the bottom of the dough for stickiness as you do this, because you will need to sprinkle some more flour underneath and on top. This is very sticky dough because of all the fat. But be careful not to add too much flour or you will have a tough dough instead of a flaky dough. When you get the dough all rolled out -- nice and thin -- you can spread the filling on. See the photo below. You can see my rectangle isn't perfect. It's ok -- when the cookies are rolled up, it will be fine.
Spread the filling with a butter knife, leaving both of the short ends open. First cut the dough in half, lengthwise, making two strips. Then cut each half into strips about 1 to 1-1/2" wide. Beginning with the end that has filling, roll up so that the end without filling is last. Roll cookie in cinnamon/sugar mixture before placing seamside down on cookie sheet. Wipe knife on damp paper towel after each cutting.
Place the cookie sheets in the oven after all cookies are rolled. Chill for at least one hour, longer is better. OK to let sit overnight.
When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. When oven is ready, remove cookie tray from fridge and place in hot oven. Bake 25-30 minutes, or till lightly browned and done in centers. Cool on wire racks. These cookies freeze well.