Cranberry-Pistachio Rugelach

        From the blog For Love of the Table

1 (8-oz.) package cream cheese
1 c. (2 sticks/8 oz.) unsalted butter
1/4 c. sugar 
1 t. vanilla extract
2 c. all-purpose flour (8 oz.)

1/2 t. salt

2/3 c. pistachios (3 oz.), very lightly toasted

1/3 c. blanched almonds (1 1/2 oz.), very lightly toasted

1 c. Craisins (5 oz.)

2/3 c. sugar

zest of 1 orange

1/3 c. apricot preserves, puréed in the food processor 

milk, for brushing
Turbinado or sanding sugar, for sprinkling

Soften the cream cheese and butter. In a mixing bowl, cream the cream cheese and butter until blended. Beat in the sugar and vanilla extract. On low speed, beat in the flour and the salt until incorporated.


Alternatively, make the dough in the food processor: Place the cream cheese in the food processor.  Cut the butter into a few pieces and add it with the motor running. Process until smooth and creamy. Add the sugar and vanilla extract and process until incorporated, scraping the sides of the bowl. Add the flour and the salt and pulse in just until the dough starts to clump together.


Scrape the dough onto a piece of plastic wrap and press it together to form a thick, flat rectangle. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.  If time allows, and overnight chill is best.

Place the nuts and craisins in the bowl of the food processor (fitted with the metal blade) along with the sugar.  Process until the nuts and craisins are ground medium fine.  Add the orange zest and pulse in.  Transfer the filling to small bowl and set aside.

When ready to form the cookies, remove the dough from the refrigerator and allow it to sit on the counter until it is malleable enough to roll.  Cut the dough into 4 equal portions.  Working on a lightly floured surface, roll each piece out into a long and narrow rectangle that is a scant 1/8th inch thick.  Using a pastry wheel or pizza cutter and a straight edge, trim off the ragged edges to make a rectangle that is 4 3/4-inches wide and 15 inches long.  Roll out all four portions of dough.  As you work, keep the finished rectangles and trimmings chilled.  To finish, press all of the trimmings together and roll out one more rectangle.  Chill the rectangles until firm enough to handle.


To form the cookies, place one of the rectangles on the work surface in front of you with one long edge running parallel to the edge of the counter.  Place a tablespoon of the jam on the rectangle and using a metal spatula (offset is best), spread very thinly over the entire surface of the rectangle.  Scatter 1/2 cup of the filling thickly and evenly over the jam.  Press lightly to help it adhere (it works well to cover the filling with a piece of parchment and lightly roll over the parchment with the rolling pin—the parchment can be re-used for each cookie roll).  Roll the dough up jelly roll style.  It is very important to roll the dough and filling up loosely.  If the roll is too tight, the filling will be pushed out when the cookies bake. Fill and roll the remaining rectangles of dough, wrapping each in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate (or freeze) the rolls until firm enough to cut.  Repeat with remaining dough, jam and filling.


To bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 350°.  Unwrap the rolls and using a sharp knife cut each log crosswise into twelve 1 1/4-inch wide cookies.  Arrange cookies seam side down 1 inch apart on parchment lined baking sheets. Lightly brush the tops with milk and sprinkle with Turbinado or sanding sugar.  Bake until the rugelach are golden brown, and the filling is bubbling—about 20  to 25 minutes.  Immediately transfer the cookies to a rack to cool completely.  Makes 4 to 5 dozen cookies.


The filled dough logs can be wrapped well and frozen for up to 1 month.


Note: In my oven, these bake best in the upper third of the oven and on "cushion aire"-type sheets.


Adapted from Fine cooking and Rose's Christmas Cookies by Rose Levy Beranbaum