This Thanksgiving, I made one of my favorite special occasion treats: sweet, flakey, nutty rugelach.

I’m only allowed to make them on special occasions because my family and I have no self-control when it comes to these tasty bits of heaven.  Rugelach is a traditional Jewish cookie/pastry that I learned about from my bestie.  I use Ina Garten’s recipe, with just a few substitutions and changes.  It takes a bit of prep time because the dough needs to refrigerate for at least an hour, but the active preparation is quick.  Older kids will also enjoy helping with some of the steps like spreading the preserves, nuts, and filling mixture on the dough and rolling the little crescents.

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature  (I always forget to take out the butter and cream cheese early which adds significantly to how long it takes to get these bad boys ready.  Do as I say, not as I do.)
  • 1/2-pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar plus 3 tablespoons
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • Raisins (Raisins make me shiver in revulsion, so they get ousted from my version.)
  • 1 cup cashews or almonds, chopped (The original recipe calls for walnuts, but I substitute cashews or almonds because we’re not huge walnut fans.)
  • 1/2 cup apricot preserves
  • 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon milk to brush on pastries

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Mix the cream cheese and butter in the bowl with an electric mixer until light. Add 1/4 cup granulated sugar, the salt, and vanilla. On low speed, add the flour until it’s just combined. Put the dough out on a floured area and roll it into a ball. Divide the ball into quarters, wrap each ball in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Meanwhile, you can get the filling ready by combining 1/4  cup of brown sugar and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon.

Toss some flour on your rolling surface, and roll each ball of dough into roughly a 9-inch circle. Spread about 2 tablespoons apricot preserves on the dough, making sure to cover all the dough.  Then, sprinkle with the brown sugar/cinnamon filling, the nuts of your choice, and those pesky raisins, if you insist. Press the filling lightly into the dough.

Cut the circle, just like you would cut a pie, into 12 equal wedges.  I cut the dough in quarters, and then each quarter into thirds. Starting with the wide side of the “pie” piece, roll up each wedge.  Little hands will enjoy helping with this messy part.  Place the cookies on a greased baking sheet.

Brush each cookie with the egg/milk mixture. Sprinkle 3 tablespoons of granulated sugar on the cookies. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the pastries are just starting to lightly browned.  Cool on a wire rack and just see if your self-control is better than mine.

I hope your family enjoys these as much as mine does!