For the Pastry:
1 cup (2 sticks/8 oz./226g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 tsp. salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
For the Filling:
1 1/2 cups walnuts, toasted and finely ground *(see note below)
1/3 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 cup (1/2 stick/2 oz./56g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
For the Topping:
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 egg white, beaten with 1 tbsp. water
To Toast Walnuts:
Spread walnuts in a single layer on an ungreased baking sheet; bake in preheated 350°F/180°C oven 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown, stirring frequently. Remove nuts from baking sheet to cool.
To Grind Walnuts:
Place in food processor. Process using on/off pulsing action until finely ground, but not pasty. Place ground walnuts on a plate or in a bowl and set aside.
To Make the Pastry:
In a large bowl, combine the butter and cream cheese. Using an electric mixer set on high speed, beat until smooth. Mix in the salt. Reduce the speed to low, add the flour, and mix just until a dough forms. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface. Using floured hands, form the dough into a log. Cut into 4 equal pieces. Flatten each piece into a disk and wrap each disk in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours or as long as overnight.
Preheat oven to 375°F/190°C.
To Make the Filling and To Assemble Rugelach:
Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
Remove dough disks from the refrigerator. Unwrap the dough disks and let stand at room temperature for about 10 minutes to soften slightly.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix together the brown sugar, granulated sugar and ground cinnamon.
Flour one dough disk and place between two sheets of waxed paper. With a rolling pin, roll out into a round 10 inches in diameter and 1/8 inch thick. Remove the top sheet and brush the dough with the melted butter, then sprinkle with 3 tbsp. of the sugar mixture. Top with about 1/3 cup of the finely ground walnuts (pressing mixture into the dough to help it adhere to the dough). Using a pizza cutter or a sharp knife cut the round into 12 wedges. Starting at the wide end, roll up each wedge, jelly-roll style. Transfer to prepared baking sheet, arranging the cookies point-side down and spacing them at least one inch apart.
To Make the Topping:
In a small bowl, mix together the granulated sugar and ground cinnamon.
Using a pastry brush, brush the cookies with the egg white/water egg wash, then sprinkle with the cinnamon-sugar topping.
Bake until golden brown, about 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer the cookies to wire racks to cool. Repeat with the remaining dough, filling and topping.
The rugelach can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.
Makes about 4 dozen rugelach cookies.
Photograph taken by Diana Baker Woodall© 2006
Date: December 13, 2006