Felicia’s actually the one who’s been wanting to make rugelach for quite some time now. Despite getting family sized tubs of them at Costco a few times, I never really paid much special attention to these Jewish pastries before. But what really intrigued me about these cookies when recipe searching was the fact that cream cheese was a major ingredient in the dough. What I was less excited about was the fact that butter was the other major ingredient. At 1 whole package of cream cheese and 2 sticks of butter, conventional rugelach was looking much too indulgent for my New Year’s Eve mindset.
Now I’m very much a believer in that there’s a threshold to the amount of sugar, butter, or oil absolutely necessary in a recipe and past that threshold extra sugar, butter, or oil doesn’t make the finished product taste much better; in fact, excess likely makes the finished product taste worse, leaving the consumer with either a tooth ache or that greasy weighed down feeling. Skeptical that that much fat was really needed to make a delicious dough, I opted for neufchâtel cheese instead and slashed the amount of butter to just 1 stick. And just as expected, these cookies still tasted wonderfully indulgent! Next time, I think I may even cut out the butter completely as for me the neufchâtel cheese is really the star of the dough. Happy with another health-ified recipe, 2015 is sure looking light!
Chocolate Cranberry Almond Rugelach
Makes ~24 medium cookies or 36 small cookies
For the dough:
- 8 oz neufchâtel cheese, room temperature
- 1 stick butter, room temperature
- 1 tbsp granulated sugar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
For the filling:
- 1.5 oz chocolate, shaved
- 1.5 oz chocolate, chopped
- 1 cup sliced honey roasted almonds, chopped
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries, chopped
For the finishing touches:
- 1 egg
- 1 tbsp milk
- Granulated sugar
- To make the dough: Use an electric mixer to cream together the cheese and butter. Add the sugar, salt, and vanilla. Reduce the speed to low and gradually add the flour, mixing until just combined. Dump the dough out onto a well-floured surface and shape the dough into a ball. Cut the ball into halves, wrap each piece in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
- Working with one piece of dough at a time on a well-floured surface, roll one piece of dough out into a long rectangle (the longer, the more cookies, but the fewer swirls). Evenly spread half of the filling ingredients in the following order- shaved chocolate, finely chopped chocolate, almonds, and lastly dried cranberries- while leaving a 1″ space along the edge farthest from you.
- Beginning with the long edge closest to you, roll the dough up tightly like a jelly roll. Cut the roll into 1″ or 1.5″ pieces (depending on what size you prefer) and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Repeat with the other half of the dough and filling.
Preheat the oven to 350 F.
- To make the egg wash: Beat the egg and milk together until homogenous.
- Brush each cookie with the egg wash. Follow with a sprinkle of sugar on each cookie.
- Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the tops are golden brown.