For the second installment of the 2010 Tax Season Cookie Rollout, I decided to make what I recently discovered was my dad’s favorite cookie – apricot rugelach. I had no idea. Seriously, the man loves chocolate so I would have said Oreos. (They’re coming, Dad.) Turns out my grandma used to make these kind, and he loves them. This isn’t her recipe, but I’ve made these for him before with black raspberry filling and he enjoyed them. Since that’s his favorite kind of jelly, I figured it would be his favorite flavor in the rugelach, but I’m glad I asked. Now I get to try something new!
Any time I’ve made it, I’d been using this recipe for Raspberry Pinwheels (I guess it’s pinwheel cookie week for me) which I’ve adapted slightly as you’ll see. The original recipe, however, is also fantastic so feel free to use it as is!
FYI – there’s a bunch of refrigeration wait time while making these cookies. This is a plan ahead kind of cookie. I had originally planned to do it in phases- I actually started them before work, went home at lunch to continue, and then burned my hand during dinner and ultimately decided a hot oven was not in my future for the evening. I finally finished them 2 days later.
My original intent was to get these to Dad before the weekend, now I just hope he gets them on Saturday so they’re not sitting somewhere an extra day. (Although, as I learned with the pinwheels), the box arrived in New York just fine, and the cookies were frozen because it’s so cold out. Not a bad thing!
For the Dough
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter (1.5 sticks) at room temp
- 1 8 oz bar cream cheese at room temp
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp ground cloves – not exact, use more or less if you like – optional
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg – same as above
- 2 cups all purpose flour
For the Filling
- 1 can apricots, pureed – I used canned in pear juice and processed them myself
- 2 tsp finely grated orange zest
- 1/2(ish) cup apricot jam
- 1 large egg, beaten
- turbinado sugar for decorating
Using a mixer, beat the butter, cream cheese, and sugar until fluffy.
Add the vanilla and spices, and mix a little longer. Reduce mixer speed and gradually add flour, mixing until just incorporated.
Turn the dough onto a floured work surface, and knead it 2-3 times to bring it together. Split the dough and form each half into a 1″ thick square. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for an hour. This dough is super sticky, just a heads up. Anything with cream cheese is bound to be.
Since you have plenty of time while the dough is chilling, you can puree your apricots. I tried doing this with an immersion blender and it was the dumbest thing I’ve tried in a while. When that didn’t work, I put the apricots into the processor attachment along with the orange zest. I thought about adding spices but ultimately I couldn’t choose and decided to see if my dad liked these as is anyway before I started going crazy with additives.
Once fridge time is up… On a lightly floured piece of parchment, roll one of the squares into a 9″ x 12″ rectangle. In theory you’ll want this to be pretty accurate because you’ll be splitting the dough into thirds to roll up. Here’s the problem though. No matter how much I flattened the dough I swear it bounced back towards its original form. I wish I could have rolled it out a little thinner, but it just wasn’t happening. I gave up and had a mostly rectangular rectangle. I’m not a perfectionist in the kitchen. (Ironically, I AM a perfectionist everywhere else in my life. Maybe baking has actually helped me mellow.)
Spread half the jam over the dough. I didn’t realize how thin the jam was until I spread it out, so I was happy I’d decided to additionally add the puree. Once the jam’s down, spread half the puree over the top. (There’s no picture of the jam because it just looked clear and goopy on the dough.)
Originally I had found this recipe on Annie’s Eats which was the basis of my filling intent, just the apricot part, but I couldn’t find dried apricots. I figured that canned would have to do. (That way, I got to skip the boiling part.) Also, side note, Annie’s Eats is a fantastic cooking/baking blog. I don’t know how that woman has the time to make all the stuff she does. I read her blog with my mouth agape and drooling. You probably shouldn’t read it if you’re hungry, I haven’t learned that lesson yet.
So back to my dad. He’s a pretty no-frills kind of guy, so while I didn’t actually do it, I think you could add some chopped nuts (pecans?) and, like I said, a little more spice (cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves…) in along with the puree and it would be dee-lish. I only put some into the cookie dough because I thought they’d add a subtle compliment to the overwhelm of apricot. Apricot really doesn’t appeal to me, so I guess I was trying to disguise the flavor, not thinking about my dad’s feelings towards it.
Once the puree is spread, cut the dough crosswise into thirds so you’ll end up with three 9″ x 4″ rectangles.
Here’s a personal note. Other times I’ve made this, I’ve gone for variety of flavor. I ended up cutting the dough first, and then spreading different jams onto each of the 3 pieces. You still have the other rectangle of dough to work with, so you can do one of each, but in this case I only made half of the cookies and did the other half at another time.
Working with one section at a time, and starting from the long side of the dough, roll it up into logs (similar to the chocolate vanilla pinwheels, but they don’t have to be as tight). You can try to pinch the bottom end shut, but I always find that the dough is slippery from the jam, so I just leave it sitting on the seam. About that – probably half of what you put onto the roll will squish out once you start rolling. Not the biggest deal. It’s too damn slippery to even try to remedy it, and you’ll just want to give up after the first section. I just wiped the excess away and put it with the reserved half of the puree.
Wrap the logs in wax paper and refrigerate for at least 3o minutes until they’re firm. I did them one at a time, right after I’d finished rolling a log it went into the fridge.
Repeat with the second part of the dough. I actually still have mine sitting in the fridge. Oh, did you think I was kidding about being frustrated and wanting to give up?
When you’re ready to bake, heat your oven to 350° F.
Slice the logs into 1 inch pieces. When I did this, some of the filling spread out the sides, so I just used my cutting knife to dab a bit back into the middle of the cookies. Place each roll 1.5″ apart on a parchment lined baking sheet. They don’t puff out too much, but you should give them some space. Brush them with egg and sprinkle the coarse decorating sugar on top. I was thinking you could even do some brown sugar or cinnamon on top instead, but I’ll wait to see how these are received before I make even more changes.
Bake until golden, for 20-25 minutes, and rotate the sheets halfway through. I baked 2 sheets at a time because I was doing this before work. Cool the cookies for a bit on the sheets, then move them to wire racks to cool completely. Use a spatula to get them off the parchment, the apricot squished out both sides and caused them to stick to the paper. If you try pulling them straight up, the layers started to unroll.
You can store in an airtight container at room temp for up to a week. I usually pop them in the fridge anyway. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of them before I mailed them out. Oh well, next time!
I hope these turn out yummy for you and my Dad. Let me know what other filling varieties you like, I’m always welcome to suggestions!
Dad thinks the cookies were too doughy. That could be because I couldn’t roll them out as thin as I’d planned, or maybe they were underbaked. I told him to pop them in the oven for a few minutes, that should help. He mentioned maybe a flaky cookie would be a bit better, so I will look into that next time. I’m not opposed to trying new recipes if you have any to share.
My coworker J-Scream (yes, that was her Jersey Shore Generated Nickname) disagreed, and said they were fantastic. I told her not to lie about them (I told her they might have been too doughy) because that’s when you end up getting more and they’re gross and you keep lying about it and get more… you see where I’m going. She said they were perfect. Maybe the chill of sending them cross country to NY affected them. Oh well, by the time I’m writing this I already have the next cookie out to my dad