Until a month ago, Mike the Viking and I hadn’t had cable TV in over seven years. Seven years. Trust me, though, there was plenty to be distracted by. We’re internet addicts, I mean, c’mon. Anyway, with the invention of Netflix, we no longer needed to watch cable, since any TV we wanted to watch could come to us for a fraction of the price. And all was right with the land.
And then we moved, and the cable internet people decided to give us basic cable as well. I tried to argue against it, but the service guy simply did not comprehend that I didn’t want the TV to make sounds unless there was a DVD in it. The conversation went like this:
service guy: “Okay, internet and basic TV will be $39.95 a month.”
me: “Oh, sorry, no TV.”
sg: “So you don’t want internet and TV?”
me: “I mean, no cable. Please.”
sg: “We don’t offer DSL services at Time Warner.”
me: “NO TEEVEE PLEASE.”
sg: “You don’t have a television?”
Since we didn’t understand each other and he was determined to charge me nothing for the cable, I gave up, said okay, and thought it’d never be an issue. That was before we discovered that a non-HD version of the Food Network came in crystal clear. I swore to myself I couldn’t watch TV unless I was also knitting, to encourage productivity. And I’ve since knitted 40 pairs of socks.
But then the Viking saw it.
It was Ina Garten, whom he calls “Lady Bob Ross,” and she was making rugelach. Which I hate making. And I saw the Viking’s giant, watery, sparkling eyes turn to me and knew it was too late.
Rugelach it is. And since you’re wondering why I hate to make it, here’s an illustrated list. The first is that a batch (which is halvable, but why bother halving it when you can freeze half instead?) requires a half a pound of butter and a half a pound of cream cheese.
Why do I hate that? Well, it’s a lot of fat, but since I’m clearly not the poster girl for low-fat eating, it’s mostly that such a high-fat ratio makes for a sticky, pasty, sticky dough that’s going to fight you to the end.
Then there’s the filling. Ina’s recipe (and traditionally) calls for raisins and walnuts, but since the filling is so sweet, I love unsweetened dried apricots for tartness. So I’ve gotta chop all the nuts and apricots, another step. And mix the sugar and cinnamon filling, a another step. And set some jam out to warm, another step.
Though, an excuse to use my favorite jam in the whole world is really enough of a reason to make rugelach. This is fig marmalade, and it’ll knock the hairs right off your lip. Ladies.
Anyway, we make this fussy, bitchy “Wah, I’m getting warm and melting” dough-pizza thing, which is messy.
And then cut them into pizza-slices and roll the slices into croissants. Which then have to be brushed with egg wash and refrigerated for a half an hour before you can even think about baking them.
And then the worst part of all: they taste awesome. They’re obsession-causing. You will eat them until they are gone.
The apricot is tart, the brown sugar and cinnamon has caramelized, the crust is soft and crumbly at the same time. There’s no avoiding it. You will realize with a sinking, dejected horror as you survey your now totally decimated kitchen that you will make these again. And soon. And you’ll look at the clock and realize that you’ve now spent over three hours making these cookies, which is absurd. Because you’re going to spend another three hours tomorrow making them again, because you and the Viking have already eaten the dozen you made.
Better put the kettle on. And by kettle I mean tequila. And by on I mean in your mouth.
Ina Garten’s Rugelach, Adjusted
here’s the original, if you’re interested. i added more salt, a little more flour and changed the filling. you can change them too, and then put them on your own website. information wants to be free molested. also be advised that the filling listed here makes HALF. i assume you’ll freeze half the dough, but if you don’t then you will need to double the filling. if you only want to make a dozen cookies, or a quarter of the recipe, than reserve half the filling ingredients for later use.
8oz. cream cheese, room temperature
8 oz. (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup walnuts, finely chopped
1/2 cup dried apricots, finely chopped
1/2 cup jam – fig marmalade is my choice, though anything works
1 egg beaten for egg wash
- First, mix dough: cream the butter and cream cheese together until soft, add sugar, salt and vanilla. Add flour and mix until just combined. Scrape the dough (which will be quite sticky) into a large sheet of plastic wrap, pat into a round patty and then refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or even overnight.
- Prep the ingredients by chopping the nuts and fruit (they can be mixed together), mixing together the brown sugar and the cinnamon in a little bowl and setting aside, and setting the jam out in a dish to warm to room temperature.
- Remove the dough from the fridge and cut into even quarters. Wrap two (or three) of the quarters in more plastic wrap and put them in the freezer for another day. With one quarter, lay out a square sheet of plastic wrap and give it a moderate coating of flour, about 1/4 cup. Press the quarter of dough into the flour and flip it over a few times to coat both sides with flour, and then place another sheet of plastic wrap over the top. Roll the dough between the sheets of plastic wrap, occasionally lifting back the plastic (on both sides!!!) and adding spoonfulls of flour. The goal here is to keep the dough from getting too sticky and stuck to the wrap, but not to flour the dough so heavily that you can’t see it. It’s a gentle balance, but you’ll see as you go. Take care to roll into as circular a shape as possible.
- When the dough is rolled out to nine inches across, stop. Remove top plastic wrap and coat the dough in half the jam, about 1/4 cup. You don’t need much, but try and spread it out all over as best you can. Into the jam press half the chopped walnuts and apricots. Over that, sprinkle half the brown sugar and cinnamon mixture. Replace the plastic over the dough and gently roll it one more time, not to actually roll the dough out, but just to press the fillings in gently. GENTLY! If you’re too heavy-handed you’ll push the walnuts right through the dough.
- Cut the dough, like pizza slices, first into quarters (making four big slices) and then each slice into thirds, making 12 even, skinny slices of pizza. Gently, slide these away from the rest and roll them into croissants by starting at the wide end and rolling towards the tips. Make them tight! Transfer to a cookie sheet as you go.
- When done, put the whole sheet into the fridge at let sit for 30 minutes.
- Turn oven on to 350°, and while it’s heating brush each of the cookies with eggwash.
- Bake for about 15 – 20 minutes, or until the tops are very lightly browned. It’s okay if the filling has oozed some, it happens. In fact, some jams ooze a lot more than others, and its something you have to determine by trial and error. The fig marmalade, for example, does not ooze, which is part of why I use it. One time I used a raspberry jam that completely ran out and left the cookies empty. True! It was weird.
- Remove to rack to cool, though they won’t really make it to cool, will they?