10 Riffs On Rugelach Recipes For Hanukkah
Rugelach is on heavy rotation for Hanukkah but eight days of celebration is a lot of pressure to keep your treats interesting. To help you out, we pulled our most impressive and indulgent rugelach recipes to try.
Hanukkah is eight nights of celebration, however, there aren't as many traditional desserts to accompany the holiday that you can stretch over a week. Jelly doughnuts are the traditional treat while the ever-present sugar cookie makes its way into gatherings in the form of the Star of David, a dreidel, or a menorah — with the limited options, we thought we'd underscore the underrated pastry prized by Jewish people: rugelach.
Rugelach (not to be confused with arugula) is not quite a cookie and not quite a croissant, but it has characteristics of both. It's sometimes cut into a small crescent shape and sometimes rolled up like a cinnamon roll and cut into 1 1/2-inch cylinders, but it always has a filling and it's always crunchy like a cookie. How you fill it is entirely up to you — there are many variations, so we pulled ten of our favorites so you can have something different each night of the Festival of Lights.
This is a traditional recipe. It uses a cream cheese, all-purpose flour, unsalted butter, and an egg yolk all whirred together in a food processor for the rugelach dough. After chilling, it's rolled out into a big disc and the filling of walnuts, raisins, brown sugar, ground cinnamon, and chocolate is sprinkled on top. It's then cut into triangles like a pizza before the equal wedges are rolled up into croissant shapes and then baked to a golden brown. It's a great introduction to the confection and it won't disappoint.
Apple Butter Rugelach
If you took advantage of the autumn apple harvest, you probably have some apple butter you want to enjoy with something other than toast. This recipe rolls up a thin layer of apple butter topped with walnuts to create the last delightful bites of fall as we make way for winter and the new year (and many more opportunities to heat up our kitchens).
Chocolate can improve just about anything, but it's almost as if rugelach was made specifically to be filled with these dark bits of bliss. This recipe is for people who like to keep things simple — the chocolate chips are unencumbered by the dried fruit and nuts you find in typical recipes. The lack of other ingredients in the filling is also a practical benefit — this recipe uses the cinnamon roll method of rolling up the dough and slicing off the pieces with a sharp knife, which is easy without all the textures to impede the portioning.
If you want something akin to an American cookie, you might want to try rugelach pinwheels. This recipe uses traditional rugelach ingredients along with the cinnamon roll method of cutting the pastry but instead of 1 1/2-inch portions, they're sliced thinly. They're then laid out on a baking sheet like a regular cookie and then baked. It maintains all the great characteristics of a good rugelach, but without the semi-soft center you get with the crescent-shaped pastries.
Poppy Seed Rugelach
This rugelach recipe offers a respite from the heavy dishes and desserts we eat at this time of year. The poppy seeds stand out visually, but honey, lemon juice, lemon and orange zest holds the seeds together for a bright surprise in each bite. Though the citrus is unexpected, it's not unwelcomed with this cookie.
This recipe is the polar opposite of poppy seed rugelach — both the dough and the filling are heavier than other recipes. In addition to the cream cheese and butter, the dough calls for sour cream to make the pastry extra rich. As you might have guessed from the title of the recipe the filling consists of caramel which is charmingly paired with pecans. While other rugelach is eaten at room temperature, the author suggests these be eaten warm to get the full, glorious effect.
This recipe takes all the joy of fig bars, smashes it down and rolls it up in a less dense and more approachable vessel for this fibrous fruit. The dough itself is unconventionally delicious. The typical dough is relatively unseasoned, but with the addition of brown sugar and cardamom, this dough takes on qualities you might associate with a cinnamon roll without diminishing the traditional crunchyness you expect from rugelach.
If you think raisins ruin rugelach, look no further for a recipe that swaps one sweet dried fruit for a tart dried fruit. You still get all the right textures in each bite, but with a little more cheer than you might expect.
Gluten-Free Chocolate Rugelach
Because this petite pastry doesn't puff up or rise, it's an excellent candidate for wheat flour-free dough. This recipe calls for almond flour and tapioca flour along with coconut sugar and cinnamon for a little bit of flavor. If you're dubious, don't worry — it's just as deliciously sweet and crunchy as the traditional recipe.
Rugelach is a dairy-heavy treat which means it's not pareve and you can't eat it alongside a meal of meat if that's how you keep kosher, but a vegan rugelach remedies that. This recipe uses vegan cream cheese and margarine so it's both inherently pareve and vegan-friendly for any meal.
Raspberry Chocolate Chip Rugelach
What is it about the combination of chocolate and raspberry jam that tastes so good? We won't lead you down that rabbit hole, just trust that after you try this recipe, you'll agree that it makes sense. But if raspberry's not your jam, you can experiment with apricot preserves which also pairs well with chocolate. The other thing that makes this recipe appealing is that instead of making the dough from scratch, it uses premade puff pastry to cut down on prep time which is a luxury this time of year.