Anyone else have a partial bag of pecans left over from the holidays? Did you spend an arm and a leg, too? Behold this impressive cookie that you probably have everything on hand to make! I knew the moment I saw these that my pecans were destined for greatness. I made them for a party hoping that they would disappear quickly, but these tiny treats were hidden among a large dessert spread and most of them returned with me. Of course, I was secretly happy. The pastry has a subtle tang from the cream cheese and is barely sweet. Use your best brown sugar and cinnamon and you have the perfect little cookie.
I do not want to derail anyone’s healthy resolutions, but the rugelach are truly bite-sized. Maybe they could be a transition dessert between holiday gluttony and those vegetarian soups you are cooking up in your head? A very happy 2011 to you all.
Recipe: Rugelach with Pecans, Brown Sugar and Cinnmon
Recipe from The Year in Food, makes 32-48 cookies
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
4 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
1 C. all-purpose flour
2 t. sugar
1/2 t. sea salt
1 C. finely chopped pecans
1/3 C. brown sugar, plus more for dusting
1 t. cinnamon, plus more for dusting
1. Cream the butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy. Slowly fold in the dry ingredients and mix until combined. Flatten into a round disc (the dough was a bit crumbly, but it will be more cooperative once cold), wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
2. Combine the filling ingredients and set aside.
3. When dough is ready, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Remove dough from the fridge and slice into four pieces (a great job for a bench scraper). Roll each quarter into a ball. Working with one ball at a time, flatten into a rectangle shape using a rolling pin. Trim uneven edges with a knife (the extra dough can be formed into a ball and turned into more cookies). Spread a layer of the prepared topping over the dough, leaving a bit of the top edge uncovered for when you roll. Carefully roll into a log, pressing down with each roll to have filling stick to the dough. Dust the top of the log with extra brown sugar and cinnamon, pressing it gently into the dough. Slice into half-inch or one-inch pieces, depending on the size of cookie you’d like. Place finished cookies on a greased baking sheet (or one lined with parchment or a silpat) and repeat process with remaining dough.
4. Bake rugelach for about 15-18 minutes, until golden. Store in an air-tight container for up to one week.