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Hazelnut Rugelach

Hanukah celebrations are usually centered on food, much of which has been fried. It is nice, however, to enjoy some foods during this time that are NOT fried. This Hazelnut Rugelach will be a welcome departure from fried and still is a great traditional Hanukah food.

The Rugelach dough is made of the following ingredients:

2 cups of all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon of salt
2 sticks of butter or margarine (1 cup) – softened
1 8-ounce package of cream cheese – softened

Combine the salt and flour on a piece of waxed paper and set it aside. Place the softened butter or margarine and cream cheese in a large bowl and beat it with a hand mixer at medium speed. This will create a creamy mixture. Reduce the speed to low and gradually add the flour mixture until it is just blended. Remove the dough from the bowl and divide it into three equal pieces. Roll each into a ball and then flatten it into a disk. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours but can be refrigerated overnight. Another alternative is to put the dough in the freezer for 1 hour if you used butter and 1 1/2 hours if you used margarine.

While the dough is in the refrigerator, you can prepare the fruit and nut filling by combining the following in a medium bowl:

1 cup of toasted, skinned and chopped hazelnuts (also called filberts)
1/2 cup of chopped, dried prunes
1/2 cup of chopped, dried cherries or cranberries
1/4 cup of packed light brown sugar

In a small bowl, add 3/4 cup of granulated sugar, 1 tablespoon of ground cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon of ground cloves. Stir and set the mixture aside.

When you’re ready to make the Hazelnut Rugelach, preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Place aluminum foil over a cookie sheet and lightly grease the foil. Set the cookie sheet aside.

Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the spiced sugar on the work surface. Take one of the pieces of the dough out of the plastic wrap and place it on the sugar. Turn the dough so both sides are coated. Roll the dough out into a 12-inch round. Turn the dough over a few times and sprinkle additional spiced sugar on the work surface to keep the dough from sticking.

Spread 3 tablespoons of apricot jam over the dough and then sprinkle 1/3 of the fruit and nut filling (about 3/4 cup) and leave approximately 1/2 inch from the edges. Cut the dough into 24 equal wedges. Starting at the wide edge, roll the wedge like a jell-roll and place it on the prepared cooking sheet with the pointed edge facing down. Leave about one inch between each piece. Repeat with the two other pieces of dough and other additions.

Bake the Rugelach for 20 to 25 minutes or until the bottom of the Rugelach is golden brown. Immediately remove them from the cookie sheet and place them on a wire cooling rack to cool. These can be stored at room temperature in a tightly covered container or in the freezer for up to 3 months.