Great cookies, no sugar!

Sure, we make hamentaschen in February or March for Purim – it’s traditional – but really it’s an excuse to make rugelach at the same time. We all like rugelach better – which is funny, because rugelach don’t even have any sugar in them. But they do have lots of fat to make up for it.

How to make rugelach:

First, figure out what you’re going to use for a filling. As with hamentaschen, the kids like to use Nutella, which is not traditional but does taste good. Adults prefer strawberry jam, or strawberry-rhubarb jam, if there is still any left in February from the year before. Any kind of thick jam will work.

Preheat the oven to 375 F (But really, if you’re baking these alongside your hamentaschen, you can do them both at 375, no problem). In a medium-sized mixing bowl, put two sticks of unsalted butter and one package of cream cheese (use Philadelphia cream cheese, and not the low-fat kind either).

Use the electic mixer to blend the butter and the cream cheese, then add a cup of full-fat Greek yogurt and blend again.

Or, make ricotta and use that in place of the cream cheese and yogurt, for a slightly different flavor. Heat half a gallon of milk in a saucepan. When it is warm add a quarter cup of white vinegar and stir until it curdles. Strain the whey out through a cheesecloth and mix in.

Use a wooden spoon to add 3 cups of flour, and mix once more, until the dough forms a ball and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Turn the dough out on to a floured surface and knead for a couple of minutes. It should be a very soft dough.

Divide the dough in quarters, and if you have time wrap each ball in a plastic bag and refrigerate for an hour. But if you don’t want to stop, you can roll it out fresh too, just be more careful. Use a rolling pin, and plenty of flour to prevent sticking, to roll out each of the four balls of dough into a rectangle about a foot long and 4 inches wide.

Use a rubber spatula to spread your filling all over the top of the rectangle. Sprinkle with crushed hazelnuts (which are local here) or walnuts or whatever nuts are local for you. Or leave off the nuts if someone in your house doesn’t like them. Starting from a long side, roll up the dough into a log with the filling inside. Place the logs on two greased cookie sheets with the outside edge on the bottom. Put two logs on each cookie sheet.

Break an egg into a bowl and stir; use a pastry brush to spread egg on the top and sides of the logs. Sprinkle cinnamon sugar on top of that (mix 1 tablespoon of sugar with a teaspoon of cinnamon). Cut the logs into about twelve slices each and move them a little apart from each other on the baking sheet. Bake for about twenty minutes. It can be hard to know when rugelach are done; you want them to be lightly browned, but they’re still going to be soft. They will get harder as they cool.

Vegetarian or vegan

Just naturally vegetarian! Enjoy!

Can I keep this for later?

Sure. Rugelach will be good for a couple of weeks if you keep them on the counter in an airtight cookie tin.

Published by Karen Carr

Dr. Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram, Pinterest, or Facebook, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.

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