Hats off to all you bakers out there.  I must admit, I’m not a huge baker (well, besides experimenting with bread, that is).  Compared to cooking, I find baking a bit of a chore.  Probably has to do with the fact that I just don’t bake much and am not as confident in my baking abilities.  Plus, I don’t typically get that excited about sweets (unless it’s a dark chocolate treat, then I’m all on board).  However,  once a year, when the holidays roll around, I feel the urge to get out a whisk and bake something.

Growing up, I always remember gathering at my aunt’s house in New Jersey during the holiday season.  There would always be a couple of white bakery boxes on the counter and I couldn’t wait until after dinner to dig in.  There were always rugelach (an assortment of cinnamon/nut and chocolate) and marble mandel bread.  In my mind I have an idea of what the rugelach of my childhood tastes like, but it’s been so long that it’s difficult to distinguish between reality and fond memories.

However, a few years back, I was chatting with my aunt about rugelach.  I was trying to figure out where she bought those fantastic pastries and whether the bakery was still in business so I could track some down.

A few days later I was elated to receive a package in the mail — inside, a box of rugelach from the legendary New York bakery, Zomick’s.  What a nice surprise (from my favorite aunt, Susan).  After rediscovering one of my favorite childhood treats, I was inspired to try my hand at making my own.

I was pleased with the results (plus when you make them yourself, you can make them super duper chocolaty).

In Yiddish, rugelach translates into little twists; rightfully so, as they are rolled up into little crescents or twists, filled with any number of fillings — fruit preserves, raisins, walnuts, cinnamon, marzipan, poppy seeds, etc. — and of course, chocolate.

It’s actually quite easy to make homemade rugelach.  You just 1) mix and chill the dough, 2) roll it out, 3) brush with butter, 4) sprinkle on the filling, 5) cut into wedges like a pizza pie, 6) roll each piece up like a crescent, 7) brush with egg wash, and 8) bake.

These came out crispy and flaky, loaded with lots of dark chocolate and cinnamon.  You can melt and drizzle a little more chocolate on top (highly recommended) and finish with a dusting of powdered sugar.

All wrapped up in a white bakery box with baker’s twine, just how I remember…


Chocolate Rugelach (Rugala)

Makes 4 dozen rugelach

For the Dough:

8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
8 ounces cream cheese, chilled
1/4 cup sugar (used coconut sugar)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour

Using a stand mixer, cream the butter and cream cheese together.  Add the sugar and vanilla, and mix until smooth.  Add the flour and mix lightly.   Refrigerate the dough for at least 1 hour.

For the Chocolate Filling:

1 tablespoon cocoa
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/3 cup sugar (used coconut sugar)
6 ounces dark chocolate (used 72%), finely chopped

In a small bowl, mix the cocoa, cinnamon, sugar, and chocolate.

For the Topping:

Before baking
Egg wash (whisk 1 egg plus 1 teaspoon water)
1/4 cup sugar, divided (used coconut sugar)

After baking
Melted chocolate for drizzling
Powdered sugar

Forming and Baking the Rugelach
Butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Divide the dough into four balls.  Leave one ball out and place the remaining three back in the refrigerator.  On a floured surface, using a floured rolling pin, roll one ball out into a circle, 1/8 inch thick, about 10 to 12 inches in diameter.

Brush the dough with a thin layer of melted butter.  Sprinkle the cinnamon, cocoa, sugar, and chocolate mixture all over the dough.

Cut the pastry into pie-shaped wedges, about 1 to 1 1/2 inches wide.  Each piece of dough will yield 12 individual rugelach.   Roll each piece, starting at the wide edge of the wedge and roll the dough up toward the point.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.  Place each pastry, seam side down on the paper.
Brush each pastry with the egg wash.  Sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden.

When cool, drizzle with melted chocolate and sprinkle with powdered sugar.

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