I’ve Become a Baking Nerd – Cranberry Pecan Rugelach

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These sweet little cookies are common at Hanukkah, but filled with pecans and cranberries they will be welcomed at any Thanksgiving, Christmas or fall festivities table.

If you’ve been following our life off the beaten path, you know Jack and I love to read. The chilly, rainy days that encourage us to be inside only fuel our fires for reading. We read together almost every morning and most nights as well. We are in the midst of a tome of poetry for our morning sessions. The Top 500 Poems edited by William Harmon has been taking us on a poetic journey through the ages from Chaucer and Shakespeare to Ginsberg and Plath. In the evening, we are currently enjoying Truman Capote’s timeless classic Breakfast at Tiffany’s. In addition to our joint reading adventures, each of us is immersed in yet another read. My current book is excruciatingly nerdy  – The Professional Pastry Chef by Bo Friberg. It contains details and procedures for doing things only a baking nerd would love to do – like making marzipan from scratch, for example. And, yes, that is on my goal list now.

‘Tis the season for making pies, so I’ve delved into the section on infallible pie crusts. The author didn’t claim infallibility, but I am certainly trying to find one that never fails. I would like to be known as “The Pope of Pie Crusts.” The author did say that “a mastery of dough making is critical to the success of a professional pastry kitchen.” My kitchen is not professional, but I would like my crusts to have the taste and texture like those of the professionals. One pie crust which caught my eye includes cream cheese as part of the primary fat.

However, before I take on the intimidating world of pie crust perfection, I thought I would inch toward it with a cookie called rugelach that uses a similar cream cheese dough. The cookie dough spirals around a tasty filling. They are lovely to look at and even lovelier to eat!

Bo uses apricots and walnuts as her filling. I adapted her published recipe to make the directions simpler, and I also swapped her choice of fruit and nuts for what I had in my Alaska pantry. The resulting cookie recipe makes it easy to substitute any dried fruit and nut for the cranberries and pecans I used.

Pecan Cranberry Rugelach

Ingredients

Dough

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter (1 cup), room temperature
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2 cups all purpose flour

Filling

  • 1/2 cup Craisins
  • 1 cup pecans, chopped coarse
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 egg, beaten

Directions

  1. Beat 2 sticks butter and cream cheese together with mixer.
  2. Add in flour by 1/2 cups.
  3. Divide dough into thirds. Form 3 discs. Wrap each disc with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
  4. Rehydrate Craisins. Place Craisins in pan with enough water to cover. Bring water to boil, then remove pan from heat and let Craisins cool.
  5. Drain Craisins.
  6. Combine pecans, sugar, and cinnamon in a bowl.
  7. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  8. Roll dough into 10-inch circles.
  9. Paint circles with melted butter.
  10. Sprinkle dough with pecan mixture.
  11. Evenly sprinkle with Craisins.
  12. With a pizza wheel, cut each circle into 12 even wedges.
  13. Roll the wedges from edge to center. Place cookies on prepared baking sheet.
  14. Paint all the cookies with beaten egg.
  15. Bake for 15 minutes. Finished rugelach will be golden when finished.