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Thursday, November 14, 2013

Pecan pie ruggelach

The first thing I ever saw with recipes for Thanksgivukkah had some totally delicious sounding recipes, and some that, well, didn't sound too tasty (for example, a pumpkin pie with rye crust).  The one recipe that totally caught my eye was a recipe for Pecan Pie Ruggelach.  Now you might know, or at least remember reading about a year ago, but I am not a fan of pecan pie.  So why, you ask, did this recipe catch my eye?  Well, for two reasons, really.  First of all, it completely mixed foods from Channukkah and Thanksgiving without sounding weird or bizarre (ok, ok, I will give you the fact that Ruggalach is not really a Channukkah food, as much as a Jewish food, but still).  And secondly?  They combine two of my dad's all time favorite sweets ever.


So a few weeks before Thanksgivukkah, I started working on the recipe.  The first batch was, let's just say tasty, since they weren't really pretty.  The recipe warned that the filling would ooze out, but mine oozed out, onto the parchment paper, and then under the parchment paper onto the pan.  Cleaning off the pan was not fun.  In retrospect, I don't think I rolled the dough thin enough, and then I didn't cut them into enough pieces (I did 8 instead of 16).  And since I think I didn't roll it thin enough, I think they were too small, and so the filling was really thick. 

But you know what?  While they weren't pretty, the filling was delicious.  And that is A LOT coming from a non-pecan pie fan.  It helps that while there were pecans in there, there was also some browned butter, dark brown sugar, corn syrup, and vanilla.  I went out to dinner that night with my parents, my sisters, and B, and gave my parents and B a ruggelach to taste (remember those pesky sisters of mine?  Pesky in the sense that they don't eat sweets....well, they didn't want to try any), and the response was unanimous -- they're delicious!  So since they were so tasty, I plan to go back and tried to make them again, this time thinner, and more pretty.

Pecan Pie Ruggelach
from the Thanksgivukkah menu I saw on Buzzfeed (the same menu that featured that less-than-appetizing sounding pumpkin pie that I mentioned before).



1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), cut into 8 pieces
1/2 cup cream cheese (4 oz), cut into 4 pieces


2 cups shelled pecan halves
1/4 cup unsalted butter (1/2 stick), cut into 4 pieces
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup corn syrup
1/2 cup dark brown sugar

Egg wash:
1 egg
1 tablespoon water

Special equipment:
Electric hand mixer
Plastic wrap
2 cookie sheets
Parchment paper
Rolling pin
Pizza cutter (not essential)


Make the dough:

Let butter and cream cheese sit out at room temperature for 10 minutes, so that they are still cool but slightly soft.
Combine flour and salt in a medium mixing bowl.
Using a hand mixer, mix on a low speed just until combined.
Scatter butter and cream cheese pieces over the top of the flour mixture, and beat on medium speed until dough is the texture of cottage cheese, still slightly crumbly.
Use your hands to divide the dough into 2 equal pieces, then roll each piece into a ball.
Flatten each ball into a disk about 1 inch thick and 4 inches in diameter, then wrap each one separately in plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 2 hours, up to 1 day.

Make the filling:

Using a knife, finely chop pecans and put in a medium mixing bowl. (Do NOT do chop the nuts in a food processor. You want the pecans to be chopped but still coarse, and a food processor will turn them into nut butter.)
In a small saucepan over medium heat, brown the butter by adding all 4 pieces at once and constantly stirring with a heatproof spatula until completely melted.
Continue to stir or swirl the pan as butter starts to bubble and foam.
When the foam subsides slightly and butter turns a light brown color, take it off the heat immediately and add the it to the chopped pecans.
Add vanilla extract, corn syrup, and brown sugar, and mix with a rubber spatula just until combined.

Preheat oven to 350°F.
Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
Beat egg yolk with the tablespoon of water and set aside.

When dough is chilled, unwrap one disk onto a lightly floured surface, and roll with a rolling pin into a 12-inch circle.
It is important to have an even, symmetrical circle, so trim any excess.
If dough gets too soft during rolling, lay it on one of the lined baking sheets and put it in the freezer for 5 minutes, until slightly chilled.
Once the dough is rolled out, sprinkle half of the pecan mixture on top of the dough, all the way to the edges of the circle, making sure the mixture is evenly distributed.
With a pizza cutter (or a knife), cut dough into 16 equal slices.
Roll each slice from the outside in (starting the wide end and rolling towards the point), placing each roll onto the cookie sheet as you go.
Repeat this process with the other disk of dough.

Use a pastry brush to coat the top of each cookie with the egg-water mixture.
Bake rugelach for 20 minutes until golden, turning the cookie sheet halfway through baking.  The filling will ooze out, don't worry, there is plenty still inside.  Once they're cooled, break away the parts that oozed out.  The original recipe recommends eating them.  I second that!

Cool completely before serving.

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