Spring is officially in the air and the internet is being flooded with light, lemony recipes. Here at Spice Monger™ we love a lemon dessert as much as anybody, but sometimes we need a warm, comforting, spiced dessert to break up the springtime stream of whipped cream and citrus zest.
These rugelach are the perfect cookies for the job. Rugelach are Jewish cookies usually made with a cream cheese dough. The dough is rolled out, spread with a sweet filling, cut into triangles, and rolled up into a shape reminiscent of a croissant. Traditional fillings include a mixture of cinnamon, raisins, and brown sugar, chocolate, or various jams and jellies.
Our rugelach recipe is a twist on the traditional rugelach dough: instead of flavoring the dough with vanilla extract, we add a blend of cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg with a splash of orange extract. The orange and spices, when baked together, give these light, buttery cookies a flavor that will make you think of hot buttered cider sipped on cold winter days
Although the dough is delicious, the best part about these cookies isn’t the dough – it’s the filling. We spread our dough with homemade ginger preserves made with freshly chopped ginger. The preserves are sweet, a little spicy, and loaded with tons of ginger flavor. They also come out a gorgeous orange-yellow color that looks great spread on toast or on top of yogurt. In the cookies, the preserves lend a pleasantly surprising bright, fresh flavor to every bite.
- 1 1/2 cups peeled fresh ginger, cut into large chunks
- 2 cups water
- 2 ½ cups granulated sugar
- 1 ½ oz liquid pectin (usually equal to half a pouch)
Process fresh ginger in a food processor until pieces are very small, but not so small that they begin to form a paste. You want the pieces to be about the size of the minced garlic you can buy at the grocery store. Combine processed ginger and water in a medium – sized saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Once the water is boiling, reduce heat to low and simmer the mixture, covered, for an hour and ten minutes or until the ginger softens.
Strain the ginger through a sieve, retaining the solid ginger pieces and a half cup of the ginger-infused water. Combine the sugar, ginger, and retained water in the same medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring the mixture to a boil and boil for one minute, stirring constantly. Turn off the heat, keeping the saucepan on the burner, and stir in the liquid pectin. Stir occasionally for the next 7 minutes, skimming any foam that collects on the top of the jam with a spoon. Remove from heat.
Pour the ginger preserves into an airtight container and cool overnight in the fridge.
Orange Spice Rugelach
Ingredients (makes 32 cookies)
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 6 ounces cream cheese
- 2 tbsp granulated sugar
- 2 2/3 cups all purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp Spice Monger™ organic ground cinnamon
- 1 1/3 tsp Spice Monger™ organic ground ginger
- 1/4 tsp Spice Monger™ organic ground cloves
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- 2 tsp orange extract
- 8 tbsp (1/2 cup) ginger preserves (recipe above)
- Milk (optional)
- Extra granulated sugar for sprinkling (optional)
- Egg wash (optional)
- Extra cinnamon for dusting (optional)
Combine, flour, salt, Spice Monger™ ground cinnamon, Spice Monger™ ground ginger, Spice Monger™ ground cloves, and ground nutmeg in a medium bowl and whisk until evenly mixed. In a large bowl, use a mixer set to medium speed to beat the butter, cream cheese, and granulated sugar together until fluffy and light in color. Beat in orange extract. Lower the mixer speed to its lowest setting and slowly add the flour mixture while the mixer runs. Beat just until a crumbly dough forms.
Stop the mixer and use your hands to form the dough into a ball. The heat from your hands will help the dough stick together. Split the dough into four equal quarters, then form these four quarters into balls. Place each ball in the center of a square of plastic wrap and use the palm of your hand to flatten each ball into a cylinder. Wrap each cylinder in the square of plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for half an hour to allow the dough to firm up.
Once the dough is firm you can roll it out and cut out the triangles for the rugelach. Remove one of the dough cylinders from the fridge and roll it out to form a circle about 8 inches in diameter. I like to roll out the dough on wax paper covered in a thin layer of flour. Spread 2 tablespoons of ginger preserves all over the rolled out dough. Use a sharp knife or bench scraper to cut the dough into 8 equal triangles. Roll each triangle up so that the side with the ginger preserves is on the inside of the spiral, beginning at the wide end and ending at the point. Lay each cookie point-end down on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Repeat this process for the remaining three balls of cookie dough. Any leftover ginger preserves can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge and should be used within a month.
Once you have all of your cookies rolled up and on the baking sheets, slide the baking sheets into the fridge and chill for at least half an hour. This step prevents the cookies from spreading out and losing their shape when you expose them to the heat of the oven.
Preheat your oven to 350°F. After the cookies are chilled, you can transfer them directly from the fridge to your preheated oven, or, optionally, decorate the cookies before putting them in the oven. Brush the cookies with milk and sprinkle on granulated sugar, or brush with egg wash before baking. Bake for 18-23 minutes, or until the outside edges of the rugelach are just turning golden-brown. Cool to room temperature, then enjoy! If you brushed the cookies with egg wash before baking, you can also lightly dust them with cinnamon before serving if desired. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to five days or freeze for up to 6 months.