Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Maple-Walnut Rugelach (pareve)


Rugelach is usually filled with fruit flavored preserves or chocolate  - flavors more commonly associated with Eastern European baking. This version of rugelach is non-dairy (pareve) and filled with an "American" flavor combination- maple and walnuts.

The recipe is loosely based on one given to me by my cousin Nancy, who was an exceptional baker. Her freezer was full of beautiful (and delicious) perfectly formed cookies and pastry. The dough is a yeast dough, although it requires very little proofing time - so don't let the use of yeast scare you away from making this cookie.

Choreography: 
Rugelach is a shaped cookie that is made with a high-fat dough that is rolled out into a thin sheet, spread with filling, and rolled up.  The dough can be rolled into a rectangle or circle; the rolled cookie dough can be shaped into small crescents or rectangles. It's best to work quickly because the fat source (margarine, butter, sour cream or cream cheese) will soften the dough, making it increasingly difficult to work with.  The finished cookies will stay fresh for a day or two in a covered container, I prefer to store the baked cookies in a covered container placed in the refrigerator. The baked cookies freeze well (double wrapped).

One word of caution:  this is a recipe where less is more: spread the filling (maple cream) sparingly. The cream will melt and run out of the cookies if  you spread it too thickly, forming a sticky mass on the baking sheet. The melted and cooled maple cream will form a glass-like covering on the parchment paper, reminiscent of the "jelly" on a jelly apple, delicious, but a waste.

Equipment: 
large mixing bowl and mixing spoons
kitchen scale, measuring cups, measuring spoons
2 cookie sheet, lined with parchment paper
flexible pastry scraper  (available at baking supply stores or on line)
baking mat or other work surface, to roll out dough
rolling pin
pastry brush
cooling rack

Ingredients:
1 stick margarine (1/2 c)
3c all purpose flour (14 oz) plus a few Tbsp for dusting your work area
1/4c warm water
3/4 c faux "sour cream" (if you can find one with a minimum number of ingredients, go for it!)
1 tsp maple flavor (don't use maple syrup, you won't get the same results.  If you can't find maple flavoring in a local store, you can order a wide assortment of flavors from King Arthur baking company  or Lorann Oils)
2 1/4 tsp instant yeast (1 package if you purchase yeast in small amounts).  I use SAF Gold for this recipe
5-6 oz (approximately) maple cream (I purchase mine on-line from The Green Mountain Refining Company) 
1 c chopped walnuts (4 oz)
demerara sugar (for topping the cookies) - this is optional

Procedure:
1. This recipe is mixed by hand. Measure and add the flour to a large mixing bowl.
2. Melt the margarine. Cool to room temperature (still liquid).
3. Chop the nuts (divide into 3 portions)
4. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper
5. Mix the maple cream; if it is too thick  or the solid and liquid has separated,you can warm for 10-15 seconds in the microwave
6. Add the yeast to one corner of the bowl with the flour, pour the water over the yeast to make sure that it is hydrated. Start mixing - I find that using the side of the scraper is easiest
7. Mix the maple flavor into the faux "sour cream" and melted margarine. Pour the mixture into the bowl and using the pastry scraper mix until the dough holds together.  It will feel a bit "spongy," to the touch.
8.Cover the dough and let rest while you preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Prepare an area to roll out the dough by dusting it with a bit of flour.
9. Divide the dough into 3 pieces. Remove one piece, cover the remaining two.  Roll out the piece you are working with to approximately a 2"x10" rectangle that is about 1/4 inch thick. Trim the edges of the rectangle.
10. Using 2-3 Tbsp of maple cream, smooth a very thin layer over the rectangle of dough. Sprinkle 1/3 of the nuts over the cream.  Roll up the dough along the long edge. You'll have a log about 10 inches long and 1 1/5 inches thick.  Using the edge of your pastry scraper, cut small pieces of dough (3/4-1 inch wide).
11. Place the small dough pieces, dough side up (seam on the bottom) onto the parchment lined cookie sheet. Leave about 1/2-1 inch between dough pieces.  The cookies will "grow" slightly in the oven. Brush each cookie top with a bit of maple cream.  You can sprinkle demerara sugar on top if you wish).
12. Repeat the process with the other two pieces of dough.
13. Lower the oven temperature to 325- 330 degrees and bake (one baking sheet at a time) for 25-28 minutes.
14. Wait for 3-5 minutes and then gently move the baked cookies to a cooling rack.  If the cookie is sticky, cool it on its side, otherwise it may stick to the rack as the maple cream cools.

15. Store cookies in a covered container for a day or two. For longer storage, double wrap in small plastic bags and place in the freezer.