Rugelach, the sweet, filled crescent cream cheese pastries,are among my favorite cookies. They are pretty generally available in bakeries around here, though few approach the mysteriously extra good ones made by my late Aunt Yetta. I have a very positive feeling about rugelach, though I do not, sadly, have Aunt Yetta's recipe.
I saw this idea for savory rugelach in an issue of Bon Appetit. When my only slightly adapted version turned out to be delicious, but kind of slovenly looking, I went back to the magazine article to check on what the professional ones looked like. I figured I could adjust my technique on batch two, and make them a bit sleeker. Ha. Everything else in their "updated" Channukah got a closeup, but the rugelach were only shown from a hazy distance, heaped on a tidbit platter. I'm guessing this was to deemphasize their homeliness. I'm willing to eat them with my eyes closed, if necessary, and I'm betting other folks will be too.
They seem to me to be a good choice for my Boxing Day party. I usually have a little afternoon gathering with tea and coffee and snacks the day after Christmas, to get together with family and friends and out of town visitors before everyone goes back to work. Generally, and especially recently, when Christmas has been on or around the weekend, people are available on the 26th. And since I am in Pittsburgh where (unlike Canada and the UK) Boxing Day is not generally observed, there isn't often a conflict with another holiday party.
I try to have plenty of treat-type food, with an equal quantity of savory and sweet things, lots of tea and coffee, and some wine as the afternoon rolls on. It helps if much of the food can be made ahead, and reheated or served at room temperature. I also favor food which can be picked up and eaten easily. These rugelach seemed to fit right in, and they are really good. Also, you can freeze them on a cookie sheet, and then bag then up, to reheat them from the frozen state. This makes them a good take along to the house of others, if you are looking for something of that sort.
I collect ideas for savory snacks that go well with tea and coffee, and these fill the bill. I can sneakily have a few for supper with a pot of tea, if I'm feeling not starved, and a little lazy. They are also nice to offer a visitor who is having a cup of something hot with you. or to nibble with a bowl of a creamy soup. I have not strayed far from the olive filling as set out in Bon Appetit, but I can imagine other savory fillings that might be tasty. In fact, a certain mushroom concoction comes to mind. I will be making (and maybe posting) on this pantry staple, also in connection with Boxing Day. I plan to use it in another application then, though.
Here's what you need to make these:
packaged cream cheese, cut into 1" cubes 1 8oz. pkg
unsalted butter, cut into 1" cubes 2 sticks (1/2 lb)
unbleached all purpose flour 2 cups
fresh rosemary, finely chopped 4 tsps
salt and pepper
oil cured black olives, pitted 1/2 cup
salt packed capers 1/4 cup
yellow onions, coarsely chopped 1 cup
cream cheese, room temperature, diced 1 4 oz. pkg
1 egg, beaten
To make the dough:
Blend cream cheese and butter in food processor. Add flour, rosemary, salt and pepper and mix thoroughly in processor. This can also be done in a stand mixer, with the paddle. Divide dough in half. Shape each half into a flat square. Wrap and chill in fridge, one hour to 2 days.
To make filling: Pulse onions, capers and olives in food processor until finely chopped. (If no vegetarians to dine, add a couple of anchovies.) Add cream cheese, blend thoroughly. Scrape into a bowl and chill as with dough.
To make the rugelach: Preheat oven to 350F and line 2 bakingsheets with parchment. Roll out dough square to 14". Trim to 12 1/2" square. Cut into five 2 1/2" strips, then crosswise in 2 1/2 " squares. There will be 25 of these. Put one tsp of filling on each square and spread almost to the edges.
Starting in a corner, roll each square into a cylinder, and curve ends in, to make a crescent. Set on parchment. Brush with glaze. Bake until golden brown, about 25 minutes. Cool on sheets.
These rugelach simply will not look tidy, as the filling creeps out weirdly, and the crescents go bulgy. They are worth it, though, if you ask me..
To reheat them from the frozen state purportedly takes about 12 minutes at 325F.