Looking for a nut-free Christmas cookie, or rather 3, was quite a challenge. Many of you well know that most cookies, especially around this time of year have some sort of nut component in them. But I wanted all my guests (including my nut-allergy ones) to be able to try all the cookies, so that was one of the rules that I made sure I put forth.
After poring through many cookbooks, I decided upon rugelach. Rugelach is a traditional Jewish cookie. It's got a flaky cream cheese based crust and its filling is usually some combination of cinnamon, nuts, chocolate, raisins and fruit preserves.
I made them omitting the nuts and with a chocolate, cinnamon and apricot preserve filling. I think they came out quite well and were a delicious addition to my cookie swap table.
Rugelach(from the pages of Baking Illustrated)
2 1/2 c AP flour
1 1/2 T sugar
1/4 t salt
16 T unsalted butter, cut and chilled
8 oz cc, cut and chilled
2 T sour cream
1 c sugar
1 T ground cinnamon
2/3 c apricot preserves, processed smooth
1 c dark chocolate, chopped finely
2 lg egg yolks
2 T milk
For the Dough-
Combine the flour, sugar in the bowl of your stand mixer or food processor. A food processor works better, but either will do the job well. Add the butter, cream cheese, and sour cream and carefully combine until the dough becomes crumbly – the size of cottage cheese. Do not over-mix this dough. If you do, it will not be flaky and pastry-like once baked. Place the dough on a clean counter space divide it into 4 equal portions. Press each one into a disk and then, using wax paper to sandwich the dough, roll it out to a rectangle about 9” long x 6” wide or until the dough is about 1/8” thick. Place in the freezer for 30 min. Alternately, you can make this dough ahead of time and store it in the freezer, tightly wrapped, at this stage until you need to make the cookies. The dough can be frozen at this point for up to a month.
For the Filling-
Combine the sugar and cinnamon. Remove the dough from the freezer and spread 2 T preserves, 1/4 c chopped dark chocolate, and 2 T cinnamon sugar over the top of the dough. Roll tightly into a log and slice ½” pieces. Place them 2" apart on parchment-lined cookie sheets. Freeze for 15 minutes. While the cookies are in the freezer, heat your oven to 375F.
Whisk the glaze ingredients. Take the cookies out of the freezer and brush them with the glaze. Bake the cookies until they start to brown on the edges and have puffed up a bit., about 20-21 minutes. Let the cookies cool.
This recipe makes about 35 cookies. These cookies may be stored at room temperature for up to 5 days or frozen for up to a month.