I've been in a female-dominated profession for the last decade. While I have met and befriended some fantastic and supportive women, I have also witnessed some catty behavior-- you know, that whole lobsters-in-a-tank mentality-- and so I appreciate the genuine interest, feedback, and willingness to share that has come my way in a genre of blogging that also seems to be dominated by women.
Feeling all warm and fuzzy inside (a not-so-common occurrence for me; just ask my face-to-face friends), I googled "friendship cookies," thinking I'd heard of such a thing, and thinking they seemed the perfect cookies to make now. My search results, though, were ambiguous at best, and it seems that any cookie can be a friendship cookie, so long as it is baked for a friend. Or 50.
I knew Dorie Greenspan wouldn't let me down, especially at a moment like this. I needed something that was relatively easy, not sickeningly sweet, and pretty**, since ugly friendship cookies just don't send the right message. Oh, and I needed to use the 4 ounces of cream cheese I had on hand. Greenspan suggested rugelach. OK, not really, but the photo looked delicious and the dough calls for cream cheese, so it's sort of the same thing.
** I reread the recipe as I was writing this and realized I missed the step that told me to refrigerate the cookies for 30 minutes before baking. This probably explains why mine look like pigs in blankets. However, if you actually follow directions, you will probably get more shapely rugelach.
As with many of her cookie recipes, Greenspan says you can halve the dough and freeze it for those I Just Made A New Friend moments. I kept the second half of the dough in the fridge for a few days simply because I didn't have time to make all of them at once. Either way, they work well. I gave a few away to a live friend, who reported that they were so good that she was still thinking about them the following morning. I guess that means we'll be friends for a while.
Greenspan also notes that rugelach invite experimentation, and I agree. This recipe calls for jam, nuts, currants, chocolate, and cinnamon sugar in the filling. I used almonds, raisins, dark chocolate, and raspberry-apricot jam. I omitted the cinnamon sugar in the second half, because while the first ones were very good, they were on the verge of being too sweet. I doubt the original rugelach, made by Ashkenazi Jews, contained dark chocolate or jam, but if your new friends like chocolate, use it, by all means.
Foodie Friends Rugelach
from Baking: From my home to yours by Dorie Greenspan
*Greenspan says this recipe makes 32 cookies. I got about 24, but if you chop your ingredients finely and cut your triangles smaller, you can eek out 32.
For the dough
4 oz cream cheese, cold
1 stick (8 TBSP) cold, unsalted butter
1 C all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
For the filling
2/3 C raspberry or apricot jam, heated over low heat until liquified
2 TBSP granulated sugar (I omitted this)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 C chopped nuts
1/4 chopped raisins (or currants)
4 oz dark chocolate, finely chopped (I used about 2 oz)
For the glaze
1 tsp cold water
1-2 TBSP sugar
1. Let cream cheese and butter rest on counter for 10 minutes, so they are slightly softened but still cool. Cut into chunks.
2. Put cream cheese, butter, flour, and salt in food processor. Pulse machine 6-10 times, and then process until the dough forms large curds but does NOT form a ball on the blade.
3. Turn dough out onto work surface, form into a ball, and divide in half. Shape halves into disks and wrap each in plastic wrap. Refrigerate dough for at least two hours, or freeze for up to 2 months.
4. Working with one disk at a time, roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface into an 11-12" circle. Brush a thin layer of jam over dough, and sprinkle with half the cinnamon sugar, if using. Scatter half the nuts, raisins, and chocolate over the jam.
5. Cut the circle into 16 wedges (cut into fourths first, then cut each fourth into fourths again). Starting at the base of each wedge, roll up the dough into little crescents. Place on baking sheet coated with cooking spray or parchment paper, pointed end down. Refrigerate cookies for 30 minutes before baking. You can also freeze unbaked cookies at this point for up to 2 months. Don't defrost before baking. Just add a couple of minutes to your baking time.
6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.7. Stir together water and egg. Brush a bit of the egg wash over the tops of the cookies and sprinkle a bit of sugar on top. Bake for 20-25 minutes until they are puffed and golden. Cool on wire racks.