Scrumptiousness! The very best buttery and flaky cream cheese pastry, with an irresistible raspberry and almond filling, shaped into traditional crescent shapes with crunchy raspberry and strawberry flavored crystal sugar sprinkles on top, our Raspberry and Almond Rugelach Cookies are so pretty! They’re perfect for Christmas, Valentine’s Day and Easter as well as spring and summer entertaining. Includes a gluten free option with our own splendid GF flour blend recipe. Everyone will LOVE these!
A Berry Twist on the Classic:
Raspberry and Almond Rugelach Cookies
My friends, today I am especially happy to share my original recipe for Raspberry and Almond Rugelach Cookies. They are truly to die for. I kid you not. In fact, they’re the perfect dessert pastry cookie for Christmas (so shabby chic), Valentine’s Day (red and pink) and Easter (pretty pastel pink) as well as spring and summer entertaining!
In fact, my first post was also a guest blog post for Bob’s Red Mill. I was thrilled when they reached out to me in the spring of that year to develop a special gluten free holiday recipe for their customers and readers using Bob’s Red Mill products. I had such fun in “the lab” creating the special blend of gluten free flour used in making these delectable, flaky pastry-cookies. When made with my original gluten-free flour blend, I promise…no one will ever know these special pastry-cookies are gluten-free!
Today, I am sharing both my traditional and gluten free versions of this exceptional and irresistible rugelach recipe, Raspberry and Almond Rugelach. When I was baking the first batches of this recipe, The Big Lug responded with, “Mmm. It smells like Pop-Tarts in here.” Hahaha! So true, so true. However, I can assure you, the taste sensation of the flavorful raspberry and almond filling, and the buttery, chewy-flaky texture of these little “finger pies” far exceeds that of Pop-Tarts!
Rugelach are my husband’s favorite cookie in the universe. In fact, as I mentioned before, I think he married me just for my rugelach recipe! The Big Lug is Polish and it seems rather fitting that rugelach is his favorite cookie—it’s in his DNA. So, when Valentine’s Day rolled around, I whipped these babies up as a special gift from the oven and he was a very happy man—that is until I started snatching from his private stash.
Rugelach (sometimes spelled “Rugalach”) are more than a holiday cookie. In fact, I believe rugelach should be considered an everyday sort of treat—not reserved solely for special occasions. However, special occasions always seem to be the time of year when we devote our efforts to baking homemade rugelach due to albeit simple but somewhat time-consuming steps involved.
One Yiddish translation is ‘little twists’…
Rugelach are Eastern European pastry-cookies comprised of delicate tangy cream cheese dough filled with a variety of slightly sweet but lip-smacking fillings and have become a traditional Jewish favorite. In fact, the name has origins from the Polish word “rogal” for croissant pastries which resemble horns.
The Yiddish word “ruglach” carries the same meaning. Since the Polish language influenced Yiddish, the term probably originated in Polish, first, and was later translated into Yiddish. No one really knows which came first, so the debate continues. Still others, like Certified Master Pastry Chef and instructor at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone, as well as author of several books including The Professional Pastry Chef and The Advanced Professional Pastry Chef, Chef Bo Friberg, contend that the word rugelach is derived from the Yiddish word “rugel” which translates to “royal”.
Interestingly, the “ach” ending of the word “rugelach” specifies plural while the “el” in the center signifies petite. When put together, one Yiddish translation is “little twists” which is so appropriate for this scrumptious pastry-cookie of twisty goodness! In the end, however, the word “rugelach” stuck and the term is most definitely Yiddish.
Traditionally, rugelach are filled with a fruit jam, marmalade or preserves, sugar or brown sugar (or a blend of both), spices and chopped nuts—even perhaps almond paste or marzipan—and dried fruit such as raisins, sultanas (golden raisins), dried cherries or cranberries and currants as well as other chopped dried fruits such as apricots, dates and figs. Sometimes, poppy seed paste or prune butter (lekvar) are used as a filling in rugelach making them similar to Hamantashen.
More recently, chocolate has found its way into rugelach filling such as with chocolate paste (made with melted chocolate, an egg or two and powdered sugar for binding and sweetness) or simply chopped chocolate or mini chocolate morsels sprinkled over the filling. Chocolate paired with raspberry jam has been a favorite for the classic tart-berry and sweet-chocolate flavor combination heralded by chocolate lovers the world over—to include Dorie Greenspan’s recipe in her James Beard award-winning cookbook, Baking: From My Home to Yours.
“Good rugelach should be more chewy than flaky…”
However, the most popular preparation over the years has been to fill rugelach with apricot preserves, sugar, ground cinnamon, chopped nuts and, sometimes, golden raisins. This is probably due to the heritage and traditional prevalence of Polish cookies such as buttery Apricot Tea Cookies (thumbprints) and especially Polish Apricot-Filled Cookies (known as “kolaczki” or “kolacky”) which are pastry-cookies made with a cream cheese pastry. In the case of Kolacky, the cookies are fashioned into a bowtie or envelope shape from a square piece of cut pastry dough with the opposite corners overlapping in the center which are pinched to seal in the apricot filling.
Since the advent of rugelach, innovative bakers have been playing around in the kitchen to create their own rugelach twist to meet their dreams and expectations of the perfect rugelach pastry-cookie and I am no different here at Wicked Good Kitchen! Bakers use either a cream cheese or sour cream pastry dough (sometimes using yeast for leavening as was the case with “butter horns” in earlier days) and then concoct different flavor combinations with filling ingredients. However, as Chef Bo says, “Good rugelach should be more chewy than flaky, so it is important not to make the dough too short”. I couldn’t agree more.
Raspberry and Almond Rugelach Cookies are not only the ideal sweet treats for holidays but for birthdays and spring and summer entertaining. In fact, I think they are the perfect cookie to serve at bridal and baby showers as well. Party guests will be both so surprised and impressed, they will be talking about these tasty and pretty cookies for days!
Below are Pinterest-friendly sized images to pin at Pinterest!
Scrumptiousness! The very best buttery and flaky cream cheese pastry, with an irresistible raspberry and almond filling, shaped into traditional crescent shapes with crunchy raspberry and strawberry flavored crystal sugar sprinkles on top, our Raspberry and Almond Rugelach are so pretty! They're perfect for Christmas, Valentine's Day and Easter as well as spring and summer entertaining. Includes a gluten free option with our own splendid GF flour blend recipe. Everyone will LOVE these!
- For the Cream Cheese Pastry:
- 1 cup (2 sticks/226 grams) unsalted butter, slightly softened
- 1 (8-ounce/226-gram) package cream cheese, slightly softened
- 2 tablespoons (25 grams) granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon (5 ml) pure vanilla extract, such as Nielsen-Massey®
- ¼ teaspoon (1.25 grams) kosher salt
- 2 cups (240 grams) all-purpose flour, such as King Arthur Flour®
- Extra all-purpose flour for rolling dough
- For the Raspberry and Almond Filling:
- 8 tablespoons (½ cup/120 ml) Raspberry Sauce, recipe by Wicked Good Kitchen, or red raspberry jam*
- 4 tablespoons (50 grams) granulated sugar
- 4 tablespoons (¼ cup/80 grams) almond paste, crumbled
- 8 tablespoons (½ cup/72 grams) chopped sliced almonds
- For the Raspberry and Strawberry Sugar Sprinkle Topping:
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) light cream (half and half) or whole milk
- Natural Pink Fairy Dust Sugar Crystal Sprinkles, recipe by Wicked Good Kitchen
Prepare the Pastry: Using an electric stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream together butter and cream cheese. Beat in sugar, vanilla and salt; mix until well combined. Add flour in two batches beating just until incorporated. Scrape dough onto sheet of plastic wrap using rubber spatula and form into a ball; divide into 4 equal portions. Shape each portion of dough by patting out into either small 5-inch disks (for crescents) or small 4- by 6-inch rectangles (for roulades). Wrap each piece of dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.
Prepare the Filling & Topping: Measure and place each ingredient for the filling and topping into small prep bowls and set aside.
Arrange rack in lower third of oven and preheat oven to 350° F. Line insulated baking sheets with parchment; set aside. Alternatively, place a half baking sheet atop another and line with parchment. Using insulated baking sheets will prevent these delicate pastry-cookies from overbrowning on the bottom.
To Shape Rugelach into Crescents: Remove dough from refrigerator and allow it to soften slightly on countertop for 12 to 15 minutes so it becomes pliable for rolling. On lightly floured surface, and working with 1 disk of dough at a time, with a floured rolling pin roll each disk into a circle measuring 10 inches in diameter and about ⅛-inch thick. Rotate dough often while rolling and add extra flour to surface as necessary to prevent sticking.
Spread each round with 2 tablespoons Raspberry Sauce or red raspberry jam. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon sugar, 1 tablespoon almond paste, crumbled, and 2 tablespoons chopped sliced almonds. With a sharp knife or pizza wheel, cut each circle into 8 pie-shaped wedges. Starting with rounded edge, roll each wedge of dough jelly-roll fashion toward the point, tucking point under, and form into crescent shape by bending. Use a pastry brush to whisk away excess flour from dough as you roll. Place crescents 1½ inches apart on prepared baking sheets.
To Shape Rugelach into Roulades: Remove dough from refrigerator and allow it to soften slightly on countertop for 12 to 15 minutes so it becomes pliable for rolling. On lightly floured surface, and working with 1 rectangle of dough at a time, with a floured rolling pin roll each piece of dough into a rectangle measuring about 10- by 8-inches and ⅛-inch thick. Lift dough often while rolling and add extra flour to surface as necessary to prevent sticking.
Spread each rectangle with 2 tablespoons Raspberry Sauce or red raspberry jam. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon sugar, 1 tablespoon almond paste, crumbled, and 2 tablespoons chopped sliced almonds. Starting from long side, roll dough tightly into a cylinder and place seam side down. Use a pastry brush to whisk away excess flour from dough as you roll.
Using a sharp paring knife, slice ends of cylinder to create neat, flush ends and discard scraps (or bake as a treat for the baker). With paring knife, slice each cylinder into eight 1-inch thick roulades. This step is made easier by first scoring (marking lightly with paring knife) the cylinder’s midpoint, again and again between each section, until 8 sections are scored; slice through markings for 8 even roulades. Place roulades 1½ inches apart on prepared baking sheets seam side down.
Bake the Rugelach: For both crescent- and roulade-shaped rugelach, brush tops of unbaked pastry-cookies with cream or milk and generously sprinkle with raspberry and strawberry flavored Natural Pink Fairy Dust Sugar Crystal Sprinkles.
Bake for 22 minutes or until golden brown and filling bubbles. Cool on wire racks. Carefully remove cookies using a small metal cookie spatula and trim any overflowed filling using a paring knife. Transfer to wire racks to cool completely and store in airtight containers. Rugelach can be stored at room temperature for up to 5 days.
Variation:For Gluten-Free Rugelach: For the dough, replace all-purpose wheat flour with: ¾ cup (92 grams) Bob’s Red Mill® ‘Sweet’ White Sorghum Flour
½ cup (78 grams) Bob’s Red Mill® Sweet White Rice Flour
½ cup (83 grams) Bob’s Red Mill® Potato Starch
½ cup (62 grams) Bob’s Red Mill® Tapioca Flour
1¼ teaspoons (3.5 grams) guar gum, such as Now Foods®
¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
Gluten-free flour blend for rolling dough (See Tips below for flour blend recipe.)
Tips: *The red raspberry jam for this recipe can be regular or seedless depending on preference. Gluten-Free Flour Blend for Rolling Dough: When rolling out gluten-free cookie dough, such as for this recipe, I like to use a blend of equal parts by volume sorghum, sweet white rice and tapioca flours. Prepare 1 cup using ⅓ cup each to keep on hand as needed. How to Measure All-Purpose Flour for this Recipe: This tip is provided for bakers who do not own a kitchen scale and will be measuring flour by volume rather than by weight. Simply use the dip and sweep method by dipping your dry measuring cup into the flour and level off the top with a straight edge of a metal icing spatula. (The straight edge of a knife from a flatware set can be used as well.) Use a sheet of wax paper as a liner on your work surface to measure flour so that the excess can easily be funneled back into flour bag or container. How to Measure Gluten-Free Flours for this Recipe: This tip is provided for bakers who do not own a kitchen scale and will be measuring flour by volume rather than by weight. When measuring Bob’s Red Mill® gluten-free flours for this recipe, I used the method of spooning the flour into the dry measuring cup and leveling off the top with the straight edge of a metal icing spatula. (The straight edge of a knife from a flatware set can be used as well.) Use a sheet of wax paper as a liner on your work surface to measure flour so that the excess can easily be funneled back into flour bag or container. To Make Rugelach Successfully: Be sure to brush away excess flour from dough with a pastry brush when rolling to ensure tender rugelach and prevent dry, tough rugelach. Always start with a clean surface each time rolling more dough by brushing away excess flour and filling between batches. Use a metal dough cutter to help start the rolling process to form the cylinder for roulade-shaped rugelach. Use insulated baking sheets, our double up on your baking sheets, to prevent rugelach from overbrowning. To Prepare Rugelach Dough in Advance: Rugelach dough can be prepared in advance much to the delight of busy holiday bakers. Wrap well in plastic wrap and store in refrigerator for up to 2 days. Also, the dough can be frozen for up to 1 month. To freeze dough, enclose plastic-wrapped dough in heavy duty zip-top freezer bags. Simply thaw in the refrigerator while still wrapped in plastic. To Freeze Baked Rugelach: These pastry-cookies freeze extremely well in heavy duty zip-top freezer bags for up to 2 months. Be sure to expel as much air as possible. For layering cookies inside freezer bags, divide with sheets of wax paper as the wax paper will protect appearance of cookies as well as absorb excess moisture. Original Recipe Source: WickedGoodKitchen.com Recipe Adapted from: Honey-Nut Rugelach Holiday Cookies by Wicked Good Kitchen Copyright © Wicked Good Kitchen. All content and images are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words. Alternatively, link back to this post for the recipe.