Rhubarb season, la dee da! [Insert Disney princess humming and singing with the birds!] Everything in the yard is green and happy, the chickens are laying, the cats are hunting, and the rhubarb is very bright pink!!! Let’s get down to business. With dreams of last year’s sea salt chocolate rugelach, I realized it was time for a springtime jam version! And what makes the best springtime jam? Rhubarb from the backyard, of course! And you know I love rhubarb with rosewater and pistachios, so those naturally wiggled their way in too. The result is a buttery, not-too-sweet, nutty cookie that has a hint of sourness from both cream cheese and rhubarb. It’s rustic yet a little fancy, and it’s an ode to both my Jewishness and the farm because without the rhubarb patch on the farm, I probably would have never made these. And they certainly couldn’t have been done without my mom’s perfect rugelach in my cookie genes.
(And hey, if you want to switch up the jams and/or nuts, do it!!)
Rhubarb and Pistachio Rugelach
Makes 24 cookies
2 1/2 c (325g) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/3 c (66g) sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
zest of 1/2 orange or lemon
1 c (226g) unsalted butter, cold and cubed
8 oz (226g) cream cheese, straight from the fridge
2 large egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 c (245g) rhubarb jam, homemade or store-bought
1 tb orange or lemon juice
optional: 1 tsp rosewater, or to taste
1/2 c (64g) finely chopped toasted pistachios
Egg wash: 1 large egg beaten with a splash of water
a few pinches flaky salt
2 tb sugar or coarse sanding sugar
1/4 c (32g) ground toasted pistachios
To make the dough, combine the flour, sugar, salt, and zest in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle. Add the cubed butter, distributing it all over the top of the dry ingredients, and dollop in the cream cheese (1” dollops should do it, but it doesn’t need to be perfect). Turn the mixer on low and stir until the mixture is mostly mealy and there are still some larger clumps of butter and cream cheese in tact. Continue mixing and add the yolks and vanilla and then continue mixing until the dough comes together. Divide the dough in half and shape into discs. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 2 days.
To form the rugelach, first make the filling by combining the jam with the orange or lemon juice and rosewater, if using, and set it aside. Working with one dough disc at a time, roll it out on a lightly floured surface, dusting with flour as needed to prevent it from sticking, until it is a wide rectangle, 18” by 9”. Use an offset spatula to spread on half of the jam in a thin even layer, leaving a 1” border along the long edge that’s furthest from you. Sprinkle with half of the finely chopped pistachios. Brush the 1” border with a thin layer of egg wash and then start on the end closest to you and roll the dough into a long tight log, placing it seam side down. transfer to a cutting board or baking sheet and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 2 days (depending on fridge space, you might want to cut the log in half so you’re dealing with four shorter logs as opposed to two really long ones).
If you’re only refrigerating for a couple of hours, no need to cover the logs. If longer than that, cover with plastic wrap.
To bake, preheat the oven to 375ºf and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. brush the logs with a thin layer of egg wash, sprinkle with a few pinches of flaky salt, a lot of pinches of sanding sugar, and a good pile of ground pistachios. Cut into 1 1/2” slices and transfer to the baking sheets, 1” apart. Bake until golden brown on top; begin checking for doneness at 24 minutes. (You might notice that the cookies seem to sweat and leak out some fat and jam while in the oven, this is completely normal.) Let cool on the pans for 5 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Or enjoy them warm! Leftovers can be stored at room temp for several days.
photos by chantell and brett quernemoen