My grandmother was a masterful cook and baker, though she was not formally trained. She was one of those people who could make a PB&J sandwich taste better somehow or maybe because she was that special in my life, it tasted better. Either way, it was a gift. My grandmother specialized in Jewish comfort foods, from savory to sweet, and one of her absolute best recipes, one we all clamored for, was her rugelach.
Rugelach are cookies, usually filled with jam, nuts and/or dried fruit, either rolled into elegant crescent shapes or rolled like a log and cut into pieces with pretty spirals of filling and dough. The rolled crescents are more visually impressive, let’s face it, but working with rolled out dough, especially gluten-free dough, is a bit of a risky venture for me every time. Thus I opted for the log version with these, because I want you to have successful cookies, and these are still filled with delightful layers.
If you’re feeling that crescents are better, you should go for it (there are instructions online) but, I will let you in on a secret: My grandmother made the log-style rugelach and everyone was impressed. In fact, I remember my grandmother bringing a plate of the cookies to a party once and a man, a stranger to her, so overcome with delight he spontaneously kissed her on the cheek, it was such a great taste memory for him.
Feel free to sub your preferred fillings, and also use regular flour over gluten-free. You will have to troubleshoot the differences on your own, though. Enjoy and happy Hanukkah!
1 cup vegan butter, room temperature (sticks over tub for best results) 8 ounces vegan cream cheese ¼ cup natural sugar 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 2¼ cups gluten-free flour blend (Bob’s Red Mill 1-to-1 Baking Flour is the one I like) 1 cup unsalted walnuts, lightly toasted ½ cup natural sugar 4 tablespoons apricot preserves 1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon 8 additional tablespoons apricot preserves 3 tablespoons non-dairy milk 1 tablespoon maple syrup Powdered sugar
Cream the vegan butter, cream cheese, sugar and extract together on medium-low for two minutes. Add flour in ¼ cup increments until it’s combined. The dough will be sticky. Divide into four disks and refrigerate for 20 - 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 330 degrees. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Combine the walnuts, sugar, preserves and cinnamon in a food processor and pulse until combined.
Take one disk of dough out, leaving the rest in the refrigerator. On a well-floured surface, roll the dough out into an approximate circle around seven or eight-inches in circumference. (Starting in the middle and rolling out in the different directions each time is a good way to do this.) The circle doesn’t need to be perfect.
Spread two tablespoons of apricot preserves on the rolled out dough. Plopping in the middle and spreading out from there with a silicone spatula is a good way to do this. Sprinkle ¼ cup of the walnut mixture over the surface, avoiding the outer edge. From the bottom of the dough, roll up and gently press in as you go until it is in a log shape with the seam facing the rolling surface. Using a sharp knife, cut the log into 1-inch slices.
Gently transfer to your prepared baking sheet, the jam side facing up. Repeat this same process to the rest of the dough until all is filled and cut. You will need to do this on two baking sheets.
Bake for 15 minutes. Stir together the milk and maple syrup. Dab over the top of the cookies with a pastry brush, turn the baking sheet 180 degrees, and bake for 15 more minutes. Do this same process with the second sheet of cookies. Allow to cool.