My cookie tins only ever have room for three cast members.  Shortbread gets a spot without question.  The other two roles are filled on a whim and if I’m impressed enough, I might give them the role again.  Sometimes a chocolate chip base with holiday-coloured M&Ms makes the cut.  Last year, burfi stole the show.  This year, costar #1 was a soft ginger cookie from Epicurious and #2 was a cookie I have not made in a few years:  rugelach.

Rugelach made its debut that first Christmas I gave away cookies.  I think my motivation was to be ambitious, as I felt the other two cookies seemed rather easy to make.  A little elbow grease added to the love and thought-that-counts could only make things sweeter.


However, I am descended from women who are bakers—not pastry chefs.  I came home after school to homes that were filled with the perfume of quickbreads and muffins and easy drop cookies.  My grandmas didn’t fool around being fussy with butter temperature and overmixing.  They kneaded and stirred for hours to ensure they always had a freezer full of sweet carbohydrates for little empty stomachs who ran off their lunches during afternoon recess.

I blame my ill-preparedness when tackling my first batch of rugelach on them. 

Who needs a rolling pin when you can use a large can of tomato sauce?

Who needs a food processor or mixmaster when you’ve got fingers?




This year I bought myself a rolling pin.




While I tend to fool myself at times into believing that perfection is attainable, I have never had an issue with my awkward little rugelach that come in a variety of sizes.  I don’t know how to be fussy with food and I’m not sure if I ever want to be.  Fussy is not fun.

But, fig jam in a sweet pastry made with cream cheese and butter definitely is.




Basic rugelach (not kosher)


2 cups all-purpose flour

0.5 cup sifted icing sugar

0.5 teaspoon salt

1 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes

4-oz (125 g) block cream cheese, cut into cubes

Filling—I like to use fig jam.  Jam, dried fruit, nuts, chocolate chips, coconut (read: whatever you want) can be used.

1 egg


I added about half a teaspoon of cinnamon to my dough this year.  Why?  Because I can.


Stir first three ingredients in a large bowl or processor.

Cut in (or process or use your fingers) butter and cream cheese until dough is crumbly.  Then work until dough comes together and no crumbs remain.  Divide dough into three.  Flatten each part into a disc that is about 0.5 inch thick.  Wrap each in plastic wrap and put in fridge for at least 30 minutes.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Let dough soften slightly at room temperature for around 10 minutes.

On a lightly floured surface and using a floured rolling pin, roll each disc into a circle that is 12 inches in diameter—a perfect circle is not required.

Spread about 2-3 tablespoons of filling on each disc.  Cut each disc into 16 wedges using a pizza cutter.

Beginning at wide end of wedge, roll up toward the point.  Place each wedge (point side down) on parchment-lined baking sheet.

Brush tops with beaten egg and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake in oven until golden, around 13 to 16 minutes.

Store in an airtight container or the fridge for up to one week.