RUGELACH

by Shumaila

‘Tis the season to be jolly!La la la la, la la la la! Today was a fun day. I always have a great time with my coffee group friends. Though generally we meet on Friday for coffee, this time we met on a Thursday for our Coffee group Christmas party!

There was food- lots of it! It was a potluck- so everyone got a dish. The menu was exhaustive. I read out the potluck sign-up list to V last night and even though we had just eaten dinner both of us were salivating! There was Kung Pao chicken, shrimp fried rice, Mac and cheese, Mexican Lasagna (which was awesome!), fried chicken, bean salad, deviled eggs (I got the recipe and will definitely try it out!), Caprese salad (yum!), pumpkin pie (which I couldn’t try because I was stuffed with all the other food- can you believe that- me not tasting dessert?? I thought the day would never come!!!) and Mimosas (now that’s what I call a party)!

Besides all the food, we had the cookie and gift exchange. For the gift exchange we played White Elephant Gift Exchange. Everyone bought a gift under the budget of a pre-agreed amount. Once all the gifts were under the tree, and the food in our stomachs, we each got a number. I was 8 in queue. Now the idea behind White elephant is that each person, as per the order of the number she has, gets to pick up a gift. So the person who has 1, goes first, picks a gift, opens it up and shows it to all. Now the person who goes second has the opportunity to either steal the first person’s gift or pick a new gift from under the tree. If she does steal the first person’s gift, then the first person has to pick another gift. And this goes on. Now a gift stolen can only pass three hands. If it gets stolen the third time, the last person keeps it and no one else can snatch it away from her. That’s how I got my Christmas gift. It got stolen three times and I was the third person to steel it, so no one else could steal mine! I really wanted a new wallet, so was very happy with it. Someone got the magic edge brownie pan. That was the last person, so no one could steal it from her- and it went to the right person- a baker. I would have liked that too but I was very happy with my gift!

For the cookie exchange, all of us were supposed to get a batch of 24 cookies- store bought or home-made and an empty plate. Everyone that ways got two cookies of each kind to take home! There were home-made marshmallows, Mickey mouse shaped cookies, pumpkin cookies, and so many others (I haven’t tried any yet- I’m still full with all the food).

For the cookie exchange, I took rolled fruit cookies, or as the Jews call it Rugelach. The recipe is from Rose Bakery’s cook book. Rose Bakery is an Anglo-French Bakery and restaurant in Paris. Her book includes recipes for over 100 of Rose Bakery’s most popular dishes. Rose Carrarini, the owner of Rose Bakery, holds a passionate philosophy that,

Life is improved by great food and great food can be achieved by everyone.

Now the first part I agree hands down but the second part I feel is incomplete and should go on to add “eventually”.  Eventually great food can be achieved by everyone, case in example- the cookies.

My first attempt at the rolled fruit cookies has been a semi-flop. Semi- flop because, even though they tasted good- the presentation wasn’t that great. I had problems rolling the dough. I don’t know why- I did leave the dough for more than 2 hours (overnight, to be precise), but I doubt that’s the reason. I think I added too much flour. I found the dough too sticky and ended adding more flour, but I think if I had left in the fridge, the stickiness would have been taken care of without any additional flour and would have thus been easier to roll out. Next time I’ll try that and I would suggest even if you feel the dough is sticky, refrigerate it like that and then when rolling add additional flour accordingly.

Rose likes these cookies because the pastry is made with cream cheese and very little sugar, so even though the filling is quite sweet, the cookie is not. I found that to be true!

RUGELACH/ ROLLED FRUIT COOKIES

Makes about 12-15 cookies

Ingredients

150 g ( 2/3 cup) unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing

150 g (2/3 cup) cream cheese or curd cheese

1 tbsp caster sugar

pinch of salt

220 g ( 1 1/2 cups) plain (all-purpose) flour, sifted, plus extra fpr dusting

about 3 tbsp apricot jam

1 egg, beaten, for glazing

ground cinnamon mixed with caster sugar, to decorate (optional)

For the filling:

100 g (1 cup) chopped walnuts

50 g (1/4 cup) caster sugar

2 tsp ground cinnamon

160 g (1 cup) chopped sultanas (golden raisins) or raisins

Directions

  1. Make the dough first as it is has to chill. Beat the butter with the cream cheese or curd cheese till smooth and light. Add the sugar and salt, then fold in the flour and form into a manageable dough.
  2. Wrap in cling film (plastic wrap) and chill in the fridge for about 2 hours.
  3. Meanwhile, prepare the filling. Preheat the oven to 180°C / 350°F/ Gas Mark 4, place the walnuts on a baking tray and roast them for about 15 min. (I generally toast the nuts on a skillet over the flame.)
  4. Cool, then mix with the sugar, cinnamon and sultanas or raisins.
  5. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out into a rectangle about 40 cm (16 inches) long and 15 cm (6 inches) wide, and about 5 mm (1/4 inch) thick.
  6. Spread the dough with a thin layer of apricot jam.
  7. Sprinkle with the filling, press it into the jam and roll up the dough from the short end to form a log, making at least three turns.
  8. Wrap in cling film and chill the log in the fridge for about 1 hour.
  9. Preheat the oven 180°C / 350°F/ Gas Mark 4.
  10. Butter a baking tray and line it with parchment paper.
  11. Cut the log into 2cm (1/4 inch) slices and lightly brush the sides with the beaten egg. Sprinkle a little mixed cinnamon and sugar over the slices if you wish.
  12. Place on the prepared tray and bake for 20-30 minutes until golden. Make sure the undersides of the cookies don’t burn. Cool.
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