My holiday season isn’t complete without baking several batches of cookies to share with loved ones. Although I’m away from my family this year, I was lucky enough to see both my Mom and Dad, and TH’s parents, in the month before I left the US. My mother and I baked up a storm, working through four different cookie recipes in order to send out some early holiday cheer.
It was fun to try some new recipes with her; the gingersnaps were delicious, a less sweet cranberry-orange cookie would be excellent for crackers, and the raspberry-walnut swirls were very pretty. But just like every year, my favorite was the rugelach. In part, it’s because we’ve been making these cookies since I was a kid. We aren’t Jewish—my mother originally found the recipe in an international cookbook—but the traditional Hanukah cookies have become my quintessential holiday cookie. And it’s hard not to love the flaky, buttery dough, wrapped around whatever delicious filling you choose.
Growing up we always used a combination of cinnamon and toasted walnuts for our filling, but for our latest version my mother and I chose a delicious fig jam. The jam caramelizes slightly in the oven, making a sweet, slightly sticky filling that is beautiful inside the tender dough. Topped with a sprinkle of powdered sugar, they are my perfect Christmas treat.
Servings: 4 dozen cookies
1 cup butter, cubed
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 egg yolk
¾ cup sour cream
½ cup jelly
In a medium-sized bowl, cut the butter into the flour using a pastry cutter or two forks until coarse crumbs form. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolk and sour cream together, then add into the flour mixture. Mix until just blended. Divide into three portions, flatten each into 1-inch disks, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or up to 3 days.
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Remove one portion of dough from the refrigerator and let it warm for several minutes. Dust the dough lightly with powdered sugar and roll out between two pieces of parchment paper or non-stick baking mats into a 1/8-inch thick circle. Spread the jelly in a thin layer over the surface of the dough. Use a pizza cutter to slice the dough into 16 wedges, and roll the wedges up, starting at the wider end. Transfer to a lined baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the remaining dough. When cookies are lightly browned, remove from oven and cool on wire racks. Dust with powdered sugar to finish.