twd: baking with julia: rugelach

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as a kid growing up in southern california, rugelach were not abundant. we were an oatmeal cookie kind of family. as an adult, the cardboard specimens i ran across left me unimpressed. they always seems so dry. the filling wasn't gooey or rich enough.

this recipe CHANGED MY MIND. for serious. it was a multistage process, but it was worth every moment.

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there was rolling. slash beating of that mighty hunk of dough with a rolling pin.

there was chilling. more rolling. slicing, dipping. way too much eating.

but these rugelach were some of the best cookies i've ever had. rich and buttery, coated in cinnamon sugar that gets crisp, caramelized, chewy.

i made two types – apricot and dried cherry, with homemade apricot lekvar, and dark chocolate with nuts and cinnamon.

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lekvar is a type of jam made from dried apricots. the flavor is deep and rich.

i think maybe my secret was an excessive amount of filling. i did not manage to create much of a spiral effect, and that is even after i scooped a bunch of filling out of the way post first attempt, which, by the way, was fantastic over greek yogurt. no homemade lekvar went to waste here! 

i'm pretty sure this isn't what the rolls of deliciousness were supposed to look like.

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the dough kept melting and needing to be rechilled, making me curse the concept of rolled pastry, but silently, so the somm wouldn't think i was going too crazy.

the result was cookies that are almost like slices of pie – rich, chewy centers of dried fruit or chocolate, surrounded by the tender cream cheese crust.

just because it was a novel trick for me, i'm going to say that rolling the crust out with a dusting of powdered sugar instead of flour helped keep the crust so light and tender despite my repeated mangling attempts to get it to behave.

they aren't pretty, but man were they good.

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this recipe made a lot of cookies. i tried foisting them off on friends, neighbors, coworkers, but still ended up freezing about a dozen.

and discovered a whole new way to love rugelach. oh, good lord. frozen, they are even chewier and more satisfying.

i really felt initiated into the community of rugelach lovers when describing my triumph to a friend's mother who seriously knows her way around good pastry and she whispered . . . have you tried them frozen?

yes, barbara. yes i have. there's no going back now.

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seriously, if you have a free weekend, do yourself a favor and make these cookies. just be sure you have a distribution plan, or you WILL end up eating them all yourself. find the recipe in this book, or at tuesdays with dorie, including this week's hosts jessica of my baking heart and margaret of the urban hiker

and here's this week's gratuitous shot of manchego, the cat who is too cool for rugelach.

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