Date, Hazelnut and Chocolate filled Croissant-Shaped Rugelach
Lulu, my husband, has been asking for Rugelach for a while. He has fond memories of the rugelach that his best friend'smom would make when Lulu was a child. Rugelach which means little twists in Yiddish is rolled, filled pastries. It is not overly sweet. The filling can range from chocolate, to fruits, to nuts, and any combination of the three. I picked dates, hazelnuts and chocolate and I think the marriage is pretty successful as it tastes very similar to a Nutella-filled baklava.
I've never made it before and so when through some of my cookbook and found several recipes for the dish. In particular, I liked Martha Stewart's preparation from her cookbook Martha Stewart's cookies p. 288. I adapted it to my taste and to what I had available in my pantry.
I think that it's still kosher but I'm not sure if it's "kosher for Passover". I could have use brandy, extracts or date syrup but I chose not to, to respect the tradition.
Yields: 45 pastries16 Tbs unsalted butter, 2 sticks (+6 Tbs), cold
8 oz cream cheese, soft at room temperature
4 oz fromage blanc
3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp fleur de sel, finely ground
1/2 cup Belgian pearl sugar
3 Tbs butter
1 Tbs cinnamon powder
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup hazelnuts, freshly roasted for about 15 minutes in the oven
1 tsp clementine zest
1 Tbs brown sugar
1 cup dates
1 cup fruity tea, hot
For the dates:
Pit the dates. Place the pitted dates in a small stainless steel bowl. Pour the hot cup of tea over the dates. Soak the dates in the tea for at least 30 minutes. Drain all the liquid and discard it. Get the soaked dates and add brown sugar. Stir the mixture and turn the dates into a thick paste. Add the clementine zest. Plastic-wrap the bowl and place in a warm area. It's best to make it the night before.
For the dough:
Let the cream cheese soften for about 15 minutes before using it. Cut into 6 cubes.
Cut each stick of butter (total 2 sticks) into 12 cubes. The butter should be cold just out of the refrigerator.
Sift the flour and salt.
Combine the cream cheese, butter, flour, salt and fromage blanc in a food processor. Place the setting on "dough" and gently pulse the dough about 10 times. Transfer the dough into a bowl and quickly form a ball. It's crucial not to overmix the dough, you should still see bits and pieces of butter. Divide the dough into 3 balls.
Place a silicon mat or a sheet of parchment paper on a baking tray. Spread one ball of rugelach dough onto the silicon mat. Place another silicon mat on top of the dough like a sandwich. Even out the dough using a rolling pin and form 8 inch diameter size disks. Repeat the same procedure for the other 2 dough balls. Stack the 3 layers on top of each other. Plastic wrap the tray and place it in the freezer for at least 30 minutes or until the rest of the components of the rugelach are ready.
For the filling:
Pulse the chocolate chips in a food processor to obtain small morsels.
Coarsely chop the roasted hazelnuts using a chef's knife.
In a mortar and pestle, coarsely grind the Belgian pearl sugar with the cinnamon. Set aside.
In a bowl, mix 4 tablespoons of the cinnamon sugar (get the most powdery product in the bottom of the mortar and pestle) with 3 tablespoons of butter until it forms a cream.
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Get the rugelach dough out of the freezer. Remove the first layer of silicone mat. Place the 3 dough disks next to each other. Brush an even amount of cinnamon sugar butter onto each disks. Spread the date paste. Sprinkle a generous amount of chocolate and finish with the coarsely chopped hazelnuts. Using a pizza wheel, make even portion of rugelach forming triangles. I use the π method to guarantee even portions.
Roll each triangle into little croissant starting from the base of the triangle. To get a nice crescent, make sure to gently curve the pointy ends to the inside. At this point, you can either star to brush your rugelach or freeze them.
For the glazing:
Melt the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter. Brush each croissant using a silicone brush, then sprinkle with the coarse part of the cinnamon Belgian Pearl sugar. Place each rugelach onto a lined baking sheet. You'll need 3 trays.
Before placing in the oven...
Bake the rugelachs for 5 minutes at 350°F, then lower the temperature to 325°F and bake for another 30 minutes.
Remove from the oven. The date filling is still piping hot! Be careful, let the pastries cool down for at least 15 minutes before serving.
Serve with a nice hot tea. To prevent the rugelach from drying. I covered them with a kitchen towel as soon as they are cooled completely. They were still good the next day. Or you can freeze them as well, as I pointed it out in the tip section.
The key to a good rugelach is not to overmix the dough. You should still see pieces of butter in the dough as you roll it as to get a flaky buttery result.
How to roast nuts: Spread the nuts onto a aking sheet. Place the tray in a preheated oven at 170°F. Roast the hazelnuts for about 15 minutes. Let the nuts cool completely. Rub the nuts between your hands, the skin should come off easily. Do not roast the nuts over a temperature of 170°F or you'll risk breaking healthy fats and lose all the nutrients of the nuts.
Belgian Pearl sugar is a coarse sugar that has a less sweet flavor than regular sugar. I get it from my local store but you can also get it online. If you can't find any, you can substitute with sand sugar or coarse sugar.
I used a clementine from my garden, but if you do not have a clementine, any other citrus is good as well. Make sure to wash the fruit properly before grating with the fruit with a a fine mesh microplane. This tool is so useful, I use it for ginger like my ginger chocolate mousse or my soy sauce roasted cornish game hen.
I like the combination of the fromage blanc and the cream cheese. Fromage blanc, literally white cheese in French is a thick yogurt that has a cremier and tangy taste. If you don't have any, you can either subtitue with sour cream or use 12 ounces of cream cheese.
Sifting dry ingredients helps getting rid of nasty lumps of flour and aerate the mixture when liquid is added. It's very important for all your baking so you get a moist result.
I decided not to use an egg wash for the glazing. I usually never use egg wash in my baking because of my sister-in-law's egg allergy. I just use melted butter. I only used butter for my cheese twists and parmesan knots as well. And for nut allergies, you can substitute the hazelnuts with matzo crumbs or any other unleavened bread crumbs.
You can also freeze the tray of rolled rugelach for at least one hour, then transfer rugelachs into bags that I vacuum-seal and place back in the freezer. I think it's the best way to keep the same flavor without getting freezer burn. I keep them exactly the same way I would do with my extra pesto or my other pastries. You can store them up to 3 months in the freezer for last minute surprise guests.
Published By: on April 13, 2009.