I used to be a “by the book” baker. I’ve always loved baking, but for the longest time, I wouldn’t deviate from the written words on the page, as if they were handed down from the culinary gods on high, not to be tampered with by mere mortals such as I. But somewhere along the line (maybe it was after culinary school, when I got over a lot of my culinary phobias and hangups) I started to come to the realization that these recipes were actually written by PEOPLE, like me, and could therefore be tweaked without risking much more than the waste of some ingredients. It was a slippery slope, and now I rarely make a recipe that I don’t mess with in some way.
When I saw that the first Tuesdays with Dorie assignment for March was rugelach, my brain went into overdrive coming up with interesting flavor and texture combos. Traditionally, the filling for these rolled cross-between-a-pastry-and-cookie spirals is a thick prune or apricot spread called lekvar and a sprinkle of nuts, sugar, and cinnamon. In Baking with Julia, the recipe is tweaked by adding a bunch of chopped dried fruit to the inside of the rolled dough, and coating the entire thing in finely ground nuts, cinnamon and sugar.
The problem? Not a fan of dried fruit, at all. So I re-tweaked the tweak, and added some chocolate instead of the dried fruit, put the nuts back inside the spiral, and coated the entire thing in just cinnamon and sugar. Oh, and I also changed the spread, going with half apricot jam, and half cherry preserves. Not together obviously, but half the rugelach are one flavor, and half the other. For the apricot filled pastries, I opted to go with cashews, basically because they were what I had on hand already toasted. So sue me, I got a late start this month! And for the cherry ones, I went with pecans and chocolate, always a favorite flavor combo of mine.
The other major tweak? I made the dough in the food processor, rather than the mixer. Not because I have any particular animosity towards my lovely KitchenAid, just because the bowl for the mixer happened to be filled with coffee chocolate chip buttercream from a wedding cake tasting, and I didn’t want to clean it out. Because, you know, there might be an emergency in which the only way out is through a bowl of coffee chocolate chip buttercream…and here I’ll be, ready to spring into action. I’m just that kind of “always prepared” girl, especially where buttercream’s concerned.
Anyways, the dough was really easy to put together, just butter, flour, cream cheese, salt, and sugar. But it was SUPER sticky, and needed a good chill in the fridge before I could roll it out and fill it. Once the dough was rolled, jammed, and filled with goodness, it went back into the freezer (yeah, I wasn’t about to wait the recommended 6 hours or god forbid overnight) for an hour to harden up.
At that point, the rolls were cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces, egg washed, rolled in cinnamon sugar, and baked until yummy and caramelized. And after that? Well, they disappeared into my tummy, of course! And they were all the better for personalizing them…baking gods be damned!
For a peek into how all the other Doristas tweaked their rugelach, hop on over here.