Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Pastry Troll...oh...pastry troll?

Over at A Finger In Every Pie my cousin has baked the most incredible apple gallette using some jam I sent her from my coffee shop. For the pie bakers among us I'm linking to her but I'm going to offer people a much, much, easier way to get a huge pastry fix plus all the applause you could ever want which is...wait for it...rugelach. There are only, at last count, three million five hundred thousand and sixty two recipes for rugelach out there which means that there are just a few more than there are ways to pronounce it. There are also three million, five hundred thousand and sixty one ways to go wrong. You can not go wrong with my recipe. Basically, a ruggle is a delicate cream cheese pastry shell wrapped around some kind of delicious, or horrendous, jam and nut filling. The trick is in making a large enough quantity that you can handle the dough in several stages--mixing one day, rolling out and shaping the next, and then freezing the unbaked cookies until you need them. I warn you that if you make a regular batch and cook it right away you will not have enough ruggle and will be forced to explain to your friends how good it was while hiding the crumbs and pointing helplessly out the door at the escaped ruggle thieves you will have to make up.

(2) 8 ozs. packages cream cheese
(4) sticks unsalted butter
cream these ingredients in a bowl.
1/2 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla
add the sugar and the vanilla and mix until incorporated
4 cups sifted and measured flour.
1 teaspoon either grated nutmeg or ground cardamom (well, to taste, really, I don't know how much I put in).
1/2 teaspoon salt
add flour and cardamom or nutmeg and salt to the cream mixture.

mix thoroughly and then shape rapidly into two large discs or squares if you can. You can try to roll it out right away but if you have time put it away for two hours. When its cold you will shape it into four or six small rectangles. Roll the pastry out into several rectangles and re-chill for a day or two. Whatever is convenient. Store it between sheets of wax paper, well wrapped in plastic and air tight. When you are ready, peel the rectangles off the sheets and let them get just warm enough to roll without cracking.

Brush the pastry with a mixture of good jam, chopped nuts, sugar and cinnamon--no! I don't have measurements! that's not the kind of cook I am. I use dried apricots that I cook into a paste, or frozen raspberries that I cook down into a jam, and thicken it to taste with the sugar, cinnamon, and nuts.
Roll it up into a miniature log and roll it slightly to seal the edges. cut on the diagonal in one inch increments and you will have umpteen small round jelly roll slices of cookies. Freeze them on a baking tray. when you want them, pop them in a 400 degree oven for about 15 minutes or until they are browned.