Monday, October 26, 2015

apple pie rugelach crescents

Forgive me for sounding dramatic, but it's no exaggeration to say that my life has changed in the last year. 

I recently started back to work and new routines.  My first weeks as a working mom.  The same, but different.  It feels like walking through a stranger's footprints in the sand.  I can't match them.  My feet are twice as big.  My stride doesn't match these steps.  We will find a new rhythm. 

And it's October?!




The end of October.  Practically the holidays.

I'm thankful to be surrounded by love from friends and family to help us make this transition.  At work, I am buffered by compassion, flexibility, and generous gestures of support.  It's hard to comprehend the office kindness.  At home, Kevin stayed with baby for 2 weeks and my mom will be with him until the end of the year.  Little man will be a bit bigger, stronger before he starts daycare.  My heart can rest a beat.

But still, it's October?!

Practically the holidays.

While I was on maternity leave, I was inspired to put my twist on a traditional recipe for rugelach cookies.  They are a cream cheese dough rolled into crescents and usually filled with a combination of sugar, nuts, and raisins.  And cinnamon.  And sugar.



We love cinnamon sugar in this house.  Especially with apples.  Apple anything this time of year.  So why not apple pie flavors in a cream cheese dough?  I set to it.

Fresh apples would spill over with too much moisture on a delicate dough, so I opted for a combination of dried apples and golden raisins.  These ingredients will keep for weeks in your pantry, too, so there's less worry and hurry about when you can pull the cookies together. 


Apple pie rugelach crescents are filled with comforting holiday flavor in a new form.  They offer a little something different whatever your holiday baking traditions.  But it's the familiar rhythm you know from countless other recipes for filled and stuffed sweets:  Mix, chill, roll, sprinkle and fill, roll, bake.  Best of all, you can make the dough now, freeze it, and sprinkle, roll, and bake as an activity in the colder months.

It's the same, but different.  We are trying a new spin on familiar things.  A new stride this season.  The recipe follows.

Apple Pie Rugelach Crescents
Adapted from Ina Garten's base recipe

For the dough:
1/2 lb (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
8 oz (1 package) cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups flour

For the filling:
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 cup (scant) light brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2/3 cup dried apples, finely chopped
1/3 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup toasted walnuts, finely chopped (optional)
1/3 cup apricot preserves

For the topping:
1 egg
1 tablespoon milk
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

First, make the dough.  Cream together the cream cheese and butter using the paddle attachment of an electric mixer.  Add 1/4 cup of sugar, the salt, and the vanilla extract.   Stir in the flour gradually and mix until just combined.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and form into a ball.  Divide the ball into four equal portions, rolling each into a ball and flattening gently into a thick disc.  Wrap each portion in plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour.  If you would like to save portions of the dough to bake later, go ahead and freeze them now.

While the dough chills, prepare the filling.  Combine 6 tablespoons of sugar, the brown sugar, cinnamon, dried apples, raisins, and walnuts (if using) in a small bowl.  Mix together gently with a fork.

Unwrap the chilled disc of dough and roll out on a clean, well-floured surface with a floured rolling pin.  Roll into a 9-inch circle.   It's important to keep the dough in a nice even circle, so use your hands to reform and smooth the edges as you go. 

Spread the apricot preserves over the smooth circle of dough using the back of a spoon, making sure to spread all the way to the edges of the circle.  Sprinkle generously with 1/2 cup of the filling.  Press the filling gently into the dough to help it adhere. 

Using a sharp knife, carefully cut the circle into 8 equal wedges:  first cutting the whole circle into quarters, then each quarter in half.  (You can certainly cut this into 12 wedges instead, like Ina does, but I found the tiny pieces difficult to handle.) 

Now roll each wedge of dough, starting from the wide edge and rolling up to the point to form crescents.  Some of the filling will spill out and that's ok.  Place the crescents on a prepared baking sheet (lined with a silpat or parchment paper) with points tucked under to help the cookies hold their shape when they bake.  Chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 

For the topping, prepare an egg wash and cinnamon sugar.  Beat together egg and milk in a small bowl to make the egg wash.  In a separate small bowl, mix together sugar and cinnamon for sprinkling.  Brush the tops of the chilled cookie crescents with egg wash and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.  Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.  Allow to cool completely.





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