Rugelach, the little rolled-up pastries filled with all manner of jams, nuts and goodies, have gone beyond their Jewish roots into general circulation. They’ve become so mainstream that cookie maven Dorie Greenspan, who apparently had trouble with the pronunciation, tried renaming them “Friendship Cookies” in one of her books. The chutzpah!
Good thing Dorie’s rebranding didn’t stick. We should preserve the Yiddish, which means “little twist,” or “little horn.” Like “bubbellah.” a pet name my parents called me, “rugelach” has some sweet affection built right in. To make it even cuter, it’s both singular and plural, like “moose” or “Red Sox.”
No, this recipephany didn’t come from my strudel-baking grandmother Lena. Instead, it’s from another cookie maven, my Italian-Irish sister-in-law Chris. She bakes flaky apricot and almond rugelach to sit alongside her snickerdoodles and other irresistible classics on her knockout Christmas cookie tray.
Rugelach invite you to experiment with fillings. We settled on raspberry jam, pecans, and mini chocolate chips—all sprinkled with cinnamon sugar. Why not have it all?
During baking, some of the filling seeps out and caramelizes on the tray, creating a candy-like bonus stuck to the cookie. While it can look a bit messy, rugelach packs glorious flavors into a couple of tender bites. It’s just perfect for stuffing your punim.
The flakiness comes from the tons of butter and cream cheese you cut into the dough—like puff pastry but with only one refrigeration and none of the folding. This recipe makes several dozen, but rugelach freeze like a dream. Bring them out for special guests whenever you want. They’re even great frozen, if you need an immediate fix.
But whatever you do, please don’t call them Friendship Cookies.
Rugelach with Raspberry Jam, Pecans and Mini Chocolate Chips
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup (2 sticks) frozen or near-frozen unsalted or salted butter, cut into tablespoon-sized cubes
- 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
- 8 ounces cream cheese, chilled and cubed
- 2 tablespoons sour cream
Filling: (Can adjust to taste)
- About 1⅓ cups raspberry jam
- About 3 tablespoons sugar
- About ¾ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ cup chopped pecans (preferably toasted)
- ½ cup mini chocolate chips
- 1 egg, lightly beaten with one teaspoon water
- Granulated sugar, for decorating, such as coarse sugar
Makes 64 small cookies. Each sheet holds 16 cookies. It works well to bake the first batch of 32 while preparing the second batch.
- Cut frozen butter into pieces. Put flour and butter into food processor, and process about 30 seconds until it is like wet sand.
- Add salt, cream cheese and sour cream. Process until barely mixed. The cream cheese can be lumpy.
- Make dough into a thick disk, wrap tightly in aluminum foil, and refrigerate 20 minutes to overnight.
- Preheat oven to 350° and line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
- Divide dough into quarters. Let sit out for a couple of minutes or beat with rolling pin to soften. Trace a 10”-11” circle template on a piece of parchment paper by using a dinner plate. Turn the paper over, and place a quarter of dough onto this unmarked side.
- Shape and roll the dough out to the circle. You can lightly flour the dough and place another piece of parchment paper on top to help in rolling.
- Paint a quarter of the jam over the disk of dough. Combine sugar and cinnamon, and sprinkle a quarter over the dough. Sprinkle with a quarter of the pecans and a quarter of the mini chocolate chips.
- Use a pizza wheel to cut each round into quarters. Then cut each quarter into four wedges to make a total of 16 triangles.
- Roll each triangle up from the long side, making a little crescent, tucking tip under. Place on a lined cookie sheet.
- Brush with egg glaze, then sprinkle with sugar.
- Repeat using the remaining three pieces of dough.
- Bake 20-25 minutes, until puffed and golden. Cool on a rack, and store in a closed container. Freeze to keep fresh if not served within a few days.