Ruge-lum-yum! These were good!
I say “were” because they are all gone. In two days. Eaten by every person I could give them to. They were just too good to keep in the house.
This week’s hosts are Margaret and Jessica. The rugelach recipe can be found on their blogs. Or you can buy the book, Baking with Julia, which I would recommend, since the recipes so far have been excellent.
I took 4 days to make this recipe.
In day one, I made the apricot lekvar, which can be found on page 449. Easy peasy. I bought bulk unsulfered turkish apricots which are not as sweet as the processed ones found on the grocery store shelf. I added an 1/8 cup more of the light brown sugar than was called for in the recipe, because I was trying to get closer to the flavor of rugelach I have eaten before. Since I did not have amaretto, I used lemon juice. Here is the recipe:
2 cups whole dried apricots
1/4 cups (packed) light brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoon amaretto liqueur or fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup finely chopped toasted blanched almonds
Place the apricots in a medium saucepan, cover with water, and simmer until the fruit is soft, 10 to 15 minutes. Drain the apricots, reserving about 1 tablespoon of the liquid, and put the fruit in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Puree the apricots with the brown sugar and amaretto, adding a bit of the reserved poaching liquid if the mixture seems too still to be spreadable. Scrape the butter into a bowl and stir in the almonds.
Storing: Packed in a tightly sealed jar, the apricot butter will keep in the refrigerator for at least 2 weeks.
On day two, I made the dough. I used European-style unsalted butter and Philadelphia cream cheese, because I wanted the best ingredients I could find for the pastry. My hand mixer did a great job of mixing the ingredients. And then I formed the dough into 2 flat squares and refrigerated it overnight.
Day three, I prepared all the filling ingredients. I decided to make one batch with dried bing cherries and toasted walnuts, and the other with dried figs and toasted walnuts. Since the cherries were unsulfered and a little dry, I soaked them in cherry wine (Manischewitz). I heated the wine in the microwave first before plunging the cherries in for about an hour. They came out soft, juicy, and flavorful.
In order to tell the two types apart, I made the cherry/walnut filling in the rolled log shape of the recipe, and the fig/walnut filling in a more traditional crescent shape. Once everything was shaped, I put them back into the refrigerator to chill overnight.
Day four, the last day, I took out the logs, brushed them with the egg wash, sliced them, and then got the kids involved. My kids, J & L were ready, and their friend D was visiting and wanted to help too. Rolling the pieces in the cinnamon/sugar/nut mixture was the perfect activity for their four year old hands.
They had a great time selecting their piece, rolling it in the mixture and then placing it back onto the tray. The girls even started picking out each other’s piece. I thought that was sweet.
When the logs were finished, they went back into the refrigerator and the crescents came out. Same kids, same procedure. But now the kids started licking their fingers and so I kept sending them into the bathroom to wash their hands. They were not too happy about this. I think their attention span was almost up and I ended up finishing the last couple of pieces myself.
Then everything went into the oven until nicely brown. Out of the oven to cool, and then we had to dig in while they were warm. So good. So creamy. So luscious. And the cherries were juicy. Oh my.
I sent D and her mom home with a dozen, I brought a dozen to my sewing class that night, and the remainder we served to my MIL and FIL after dinner. Everyone loved them. I will definitely make these again.
In two weeks we are making Irish Soda Bread. I made this many years ago when I was in a bread baking phase. It will be nice to try it again. Check back later!