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Chocolate Cranberry Pecan Rugelach

I hope that everyone had a wonderful Christmas (Hanukkah, etc.) with their families and friends this year. I know I did.
I feel that I am a bit late with these rugelach because they are a traditionally Jewish cookie and very popular during Hanukkah, especially at parties. This doesn’t preclude them from being eaten the rest of the year, of course, but I must say that these were a huge hit as holiday gifts this year.
This rugelach is made with a lightly sweetened cream cheese dough that is very rich, but very easy to work with. The dough is spread with a filling that can include fruit, spices, preserves, nuts or – as in this case – chocolate, then is cut into thin triangles and rolled into individual crescent shapes. The finished cookies look quite impressive, but they are surprisingly easy to make because the dough is, as I said, very easy to handle.
The pastry is soft and tender without being crunchy, brittle or flaky, unlike shortbread and other types of pastry dough. The filling is has a nice balance of chocolate, fruit and nuts that has been ground almost into a paste. It is lightly sweetened and very flavorful, but not overwhelming to the dough. Like so many other cookies, these go perfectly with a hot cup of tea. If you have never had rugelach, I highly recommend giving them a try.

Cranberry Chocolate Pecan Rugelach
(adapted from Bon Appetit)

For dough:
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
8-oz. (1 package) cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt

For filling:
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup unsalted pecans (raw or lightly toasted)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1 large egg, beaten lightly
coarse sugar, for sprinkling

Make dough:
Beat together butter and cheese in large bowl. then beat in the sugar until light. Gradually mix in flour and salt and when the dough comes together into a smooth ball (you might need to help the mixer with your hands), divide into 2 equal discs and chill for at least 2 hours or overnight. Divide each of the discs into four pieces (for a total of 8) before rolling out.

For filling:
Mix sugar, cranberries, pecans, chocolate chips and butter in the bowl of a food processor and blend until spreadable and fairly smooth.

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Working with one disk of dough at a time, roll into an 8-inch round on a lightly floured surface. Spread the round of dough with 3-4 tbsp of filling, spreading it in a thin, even layer to the edges of the dough. Use a pizza cutter and cut each round into 8 “slices.” Working from the outside edge, roll in towards the point, then place the cookies tip-point-down onto the baking sheet. Curve slightly into crescents. When the whole tray is filled, brush each lightly with the beaten egg and sprinkle with coarse sugar (regular sugar can substitute).
Bake about 20 minutes, until light golden.
Transfer cookies to wire racks to cool completely and repeat with remaining dough.
Store in an airtight container.
Makes 64 cookies.

(Bon Appetit said that these will keep for 1 week in an airtight container and can be frozen for 1 month.)

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  • Lydia
    December 27, 2006

    These sound absolutely great. I’ve never had the courage to attempt rugelach, though I love to eat them! Maybe this time….

  • Dawna
    December 27, 2006

    What a delicious idea! I’ve had chocolate ones, and fruit ones, and nut ones, but never the three together. They look yummy, too.

  • Tokyoastrogirl
    December 27, 2006

    I love rugelach….these look gorgeous. Thanks for the recipe.

  • Brilynn
    December 28, 2006

    I’m a big fan of cream cheese doughs. My rugelach have never had chocolate in them though, I’ve definitely been missing out.

  • Carolyn
    December 28, 2006

    Hi Nicole. I made some rugelach last week and used Ina Garten’s recipe from her parties book. I had some leftover dough and so I was wondering if you think chocolate ganache might work out as a filling to go along with the nuts and fruit? Thanks.

  • Patricia Scarpin
    December 29, 2006

    I was just posting a comment on another blog, saying that I have never made rugelachs and that I didn’t have time to make them for Christmas. What a coincidence!!
    This is a signal, I have to make them asap. 😀

  • Nic
    December 29, 2006

    Carolyn – I don’t quite understand why you’d want to use chocolate ganache. Why not use that to make truffles and just stick with plain chocolate? The ganache should not be used because, since it already has butter/cream in it, it will make the filling too liquidy and it should me much more like a paste.

  • Diary of Kay El
    January 7, 2007

    Beautiful cookies – another inspiration for me. Thanks.

  • Rundll
    January 26, 2009

    Wow I love chocolate cranberry, this would be perfect for me!

  • […] powdered sugar or some Pumpkin Spice Donuts to infuse some fall and winter spices into the menu. Chocolate Cranberry Pecan Rugelach are a traditional Jewish pastry, but not one that is necessarily traditional for Hanukkah because […]

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