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Rugelach, Apple Raisin (D, TNT)
Source: "125 Cookies to Bake, Nibble and Savor," by Elinor Klivans, Broadway Books, New York, New York
Serves: 48

Cream Cheese Dough:
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
12 ounces soft cream cheese, cut into pieces
12 tablespoons cold unsalted butter (1-1/2 sticks) cut into 12 pieces
3 tablespoons sour cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Apple Raisin Filling:
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped dried apples (1/2" pieces)
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 cup apricot preserves

Prepare the Cream Cheese Dough:
Put the flour, sugar, and salt in the large bowl of an electric mixer and mix on low speed just to blend. Add the cream cheese and butter and mix until all of the flour is incorporated, about 45 seconds. Stir the sour cream and vanilla together.

With the mixer running, add the sour cream mixture and mix until all of it is incorporated, about 15 seconds. The dough will be soft and sticky.

Divide it into 4 equal pieces, form each piece into a ball, then flatten to a 4" disk. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours or overnight.

Prepare the Apple Raisin Filling:
Put the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and stir together. Stir in the apples and cinnamon.

Position 2 oven racks in the middle and upper third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Remove the disks from the refrigerator and unwrap them. If the dough has become cold and hard, let it sit at room temperature for about 10 minutes or until it is easy to roll. Lightly flour the rolling surface and rolling pin.

Roll 1 disk into a 10-1/2"-diameter circle and trim the edges even. The trimmed circle will be 9-1/2" to 10" in diameter. Leaving a 3/4" plain border, use a thin spatula to spread 1 tablespoon of apricot preserves evenly over the dough, removing any large pieces of apricot.

Leaving a 3/4" plain border and a 1-1/2"-diameter plain circle in the center, sprinkle a fourth of the filling (a scant 1/3 cup) evenly over the preserves. Press the filling into the dough. Use a large knife to cut the dough into 12 wedges.

Roll each wedge uptightly from the wide edge to the point. Place, point side down, 1" apart on the prepared baking sheets. Bend the ends slightly to curve each rugelach into a crescent shape. Repeat with the remaining dough to form 48 small rugelach.

Bake for 20 to 23 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown. Reverse the baking sheets after 10 minutes, front to back and top to bottom, to ensure even browning. Transfer the rugelach immediately to a wire rack to cool thoroughly.

Poster's Notes:
Good Advice
When preparing the dough, use soft cream cheese so that it blends into the other ingredients, but use cold butter to form the little butter pockets that make the pastry flaky. This rich dough is sticky when mixed, but firms during chilling and rolls out easily. The dried apples can be chopped in a food processor. Apricot fruit spread sweetened with fruit juice can be substituted for the apricot preserves.
Doubling the Recipe:
Double the ingredients. Roll the dough into 8 circles.
To Freeze
Place the bottoms of 2 rugelach together and wrap them in plastic warp. Place in a metal or plastic freezer container and cover tightly. Label with the date and contents. Freeze up to 3 months. To serve: Defrost the wrapped pastries at room temperature, about 3 hours. To restore the just-baked taste, preheat the oven to 225°F. Unwrap the rugelach and bake it just until warm, about 10 minutes. Leftover rugelach may be covered with plastic wrap and stored at room temperature up to 3 days.

"Traditional rugelach have a cream cheese pastry filled with fruit and nuts and are formed into a crescent shape. I stuff these rugelach with an especially moist all-fruit filling of apples and raisins that breaks slightly with tradition but complements the crisp cream cheese pastry."

Posted by Nancy Berry