Rabu, 01 Oktober 2008

Rugelach, rugelach, rugelach

Few weeks ago a friend of mine from Toronto, Melissa, came to visit me. Melissa and I both did our postgraduate degrees in Edinburgh in year 2000, after which she left first to her native South Africa and then moved to Toronto to do her doctorate. She had promised to visit me on several occasions since she left Scotland, and we even managed to meet up at a conference in London at one point. Now, finally, she - and her beautiful 9-month old daughter Natali - came to Estonia for a brief, 8-day visit.

And this gave me an opportunity to try some Jewish recipes I had been wanting to try for a while. You see, Melissa is Jewish, who keeps kosher. And she's vegetarian. In this Land of Pork Chops Served with Cheese Sauce, it was easiest for us to eat at home. And one night, I baked us a batch of Rugelach. Rugelach - when said with a low, husky voice, and repeatedly, sounds sweet and funny (at least little Natali seemed to think so!), like something out a fairy tale, so I was thrilled to be finally making them.

And they sure were moreish - sweet, flakey, fragrant, and very, very tasty. I adapted a recipe from Clarissa Hyman's book The Jewish Kitchen: Recipes and Stories from Around the World. Note these are not parve/pareve or 'neutral', as they contain cream cheese, so don't serve them after a meat meal, if you're trying to keep kosher.

Hazelnut Rugelach
Makes 32 small pastries

For the pastry:
200 g butter, softened
200 g full-fat Philadelphia cream cheese, softened
2 tsp caster sugar
200 g all-purpose/plain flour, sifted
a pinch of salt

For the filling:
100 g finely ground hazelnuts or walnuts
50 g soft brown sugar
5 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp cinnamon

For brushing:
25 g butter, melted

For glazing:
1 egg white, beaten with a little water

Cream the warm butter and cream cheese until well blender. Beat in the sugar, then stir in the flour and salt. Mix until the dough begins to hold together, press into a ball, wrap in clingfilm and chill overnight in the fridge.

Combine the ground nuts, brown sugar, cocoa powder and cinnamon.

Divide the dough ball into two and return the other half into the fridge. Roll out the pastry on a slightly floured surface into a thin circle about 25 cm /10 inches in diametre. Using a sharp knife or a pizza-wheel, cut into 16 equal wedges.

Brush the surface of the wedges with melted butter, then sprinkle half of the nut and cocoa mixture on top, spreading evenly as you go. Using your hand or a rolling pin, press the filling tightly down into the dough (there seems to be a lot of filling, but it'll make the pastries only nicer!).

Carefully roll up each wedge tightly, starting from the wider, outside end. You'll end up with 16 mini croissants. Brush with egg white wash.

Cover a baking tray with parchment paper and bake at the middle of a preheated 180 C/350 F oven for 20-30 minutes, until the rugelach are golden brown.

Leave to cool slightly, then transfer to a wire rack.

Repeat with the second half of the pastry - even straight away or on the following day.