Even though it’s already Hanukkah, I feel like we never fully debriefed from Thanksgiving! How was yours? Did the stuffing taste good? Was there family drama?? Our beachside situation was as strong as possible. We hung out with all of our little cousins (who are not so little anymore), played card games by the pool, and ate a deeeelicious feast. I lived in my maternity bathing suit!! And Eggboy became BFFs with my uncle, I couldn’t believe the bromance forming before my very eyes. By far one of my very favorite parts of our trip, however, was when my mom strolled down to the pool with a gigantic container of her homemade rugelach. It was the best thing ever. They were so tangy from the cream cheese and soft on the inside (my mom bakes them at a cool 350ºf and the insides stay delightfully soft this way), and the Florida sun warmed them just the teensiest bit, which made them even softer and melted the chocolate just perfectly.
It occurred to me that I haven’t had rugelach that much since my college days when my mom would send me huge care packages of it. I’d walk around to my friends’ practice rooms and pass them out and we’d eat them together in the hallway. The arrival of “Jody’s Arugula” became the perfect occasion to just sit and commiserate about how hard playing the xylophone can be.
Our poolside Thanksgiving rugelach was so similar to my college care package rugelach because in both cases it had been sitting in a container for a couple of days, which emphasizes that certain special homemade quality. You know what I’m talking about right?? Where the texture isn’t perfectly crisp and they’re a little bit crumbly but that’s 100% ok because you can taste all the love and coziness in them?? What I’m getting at is that I feel like rugelach is a perfect holiday cookie because it stays great for a good few days, so you can send it in the mail or bring it with you on your travels this season.
Speaking of travels, Eggboy and I are making the miniature trek to Fargo this week for the annual sugar beet farmers’ meeting. It’s called a meeting, but it’s actually more of a party because the farming season is dunzo and school’s out for the summer (errr, well, you know what I mean). So we’ll get dressed up and mingle with other farmers and eat cute hors d’oeuvres… one of our favorite parts about the meeting though is that it’s held *right* next to a Barnes & Noble. We don’t have a very big bookstore in Grand Forks, so having this in Fargo is theee best. I don’t think Eggboy has ever in his life been able to walk by a Barnes & Noble without going in for hours. So I mean, do we ever sneak out of the sugar beet party early to go sit in the aisles in our fancy clothes and read and put together a stack of books for presents for ourselves and our family until the store closes? Yes, yes it happens every single year. It’s the best place to get our holiday shopping done. So it’s perfect timing that I’m partnering with Barnes & Noble on this week’s blog post to help spread the word about their #MyCookieStory contest which starts today! It is a super fun contest because the winner will have a version of their cookie sold at Barnes & Noble in the 2019 holiday season! (So I’ll be able to eat it during next year’s sugar beet meeting :). Scroll to the bottom of this post for details for the contest!
Here is the recipe for this sea salty chocolate rugelach, inspired by my mom’s. I love rugelach because the dough isn’t too sweet, and it’s just like a pie dough that’s been enriched with cream cheese. To help get those pie dough-like flakes, you want the ingredients to stay cold and you don’t want to over-mix the dough (some clumps of butter and cream cheese are a good thing). Also, the refrigerator is your friend while you’re making these, so clear some space. Since the dough is not too sweet, you can control the sweetness based on the kind of chocolate you use. I love using milk chocolate, but for a less sweet option, go with semisweet or darker. You can also choose to sprinkle the tops with sanding sugar, turbinado sugar, any kind of sprinkle (duh), or do what my mom does and simply dust them with powdered sugar after they’ve been baked. I know I said that my mom bakes at 350º but lately I’ve been bumping that up to 375º to get a bit more golden color. I dunno, it depends on my mood. Either way works. Oh and one more thing and then I’ll shut up: grating marzipan or almond paste over the melted chocolate is a welcome addition. Just a thought!
chocolate sea salt rugelach
makes 24 cookies
2 1/2 c (325g) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/4 c (50g) sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
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
1/2 tsp almond extract, optional
1 1/2 c (260g) chocolate chips or chopped chocolate, I prefer milk but any type will do!
Egg wash: 1 large egg beaten with a splash of water
Sprinkles, sanding sugar, or turbinado sugar
To make the dough, combine the flour, sugar, and salt 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, vanilla, and almond extract, if using, 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 an hour or up to two days.
To form the rugelach, melt the chocolate in a double boiler while stirring or in a microwaveable bowl in 30-second increments, stirring after each. Set aside to cool briefly while you roll out the dough. 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 chocolate in a thin even layer, leaving a 1” border along the long edge that’s furthest from you. (Try to work kinda quickly so the chocolate doesn’t harden.) 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 an hour or up to two 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 an hour or two, 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, and a ton of sprinkles or sugar. 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 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.
Thank you, Barnes & Noble, for sponsoring this post! Barnes & Noble is full of stories, and this year they’re asking you to share the story of your favorite holiday cookie along with the recipe for their #MyCookieStory contest. The winner will receive $5,000 and their cookie will be sold at Barnes & Noble during the 2019 holiday season! The contest runs from December 4-17 and you can enter here!
photos by chantell and brett quernemoen