Never been a huge fan. I've always found them to be too bitter (and in order to cut the bitterness, it's typical to jam pack whatever they're used in with tons of sugar to compensate for it...which just makes it all too sweet!). Plus, my sister Amy eats the canned cranberry sauce (the jiggly stuff that comes out in a can-shaped blob) at Thanksgiving and I haven't been able to get over my aversion to cranberries in
any form after witnessing that every year! But enough on that little rant. When I found out that the November Chocolate party ingredient was cranberries, I thought what a perfect opportunity for me to give them another try.
So, Rugelach! A super yummy Jewish pastry that look like mini croissants typically made (nowadays) with sour cream or cream cheese. They have more authentic dairy free versions that are Kosher (so they can be eaten after a meal with meat in it), but I did a cream cheese recipe from Ina Garten (MY FAAVEEE...I love her). When I googled rugelach recipes, and her name came up the decision was made! :-P
I tweaked a few things from Ina's recipe to make it work with the cranberry-chocolate combo. I decided to make an orange-spiked Cranberry sauce, and use finely chopped pecans and chocolate in the filling. I have to say...they turned out pretty dang good. I was surprised that I even liked the cranberry part. I was a little worried because after I made the sauce, I was convinced I'd end up hating the final pastry because all I tasted in the sauce was bitterness. But when I popped one in my mouth when I was transferring them to a cooling rack, I was surprised! The cream cheese dough with the nuts and chocolate toned down the bitter cranberry taste. and the orange extract/tangerine zest gave it a mild nice flavor all together. :) Definitely something I would make again!
For the dough: (adapted from Ina Garten)
8 ounces cream cheese (room temp)
1 cup butter (2 sticks, room temp)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour (I did 1 cup AP, 1 cup whole wheat)
For the filling (dry ingredients): (adapted from Ina Garten)
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
3/4 cup finely chopped pecans
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips, finely chopped
For the cranberry sauce:
1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries (frozen works!)
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp orange extract (if you don't have it, just the zest is fine)
Zest of one orange (I used tangerines, because that's what I had haha)
First, start with the dough. In the bowl of an stand mixer, cream the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Add the sugar, salt and vanilla and mix until blended. Scrape the sides of the bowl down, then add the flour on low speed until it just comes together. Divide into four portions, wrap in plastic and chill in the fridge for an hour.
Next, while the dough is chilling, make the two fillings. For the dry ingredients, just mix them all together in a small bowl with a fork. For the cranberry sauce, put the cranberries in a small sauce pan and add enough water to just cover them. Then add the sugars and zest, and cook on medium heat until the cranberries have popped and dissolved in shape and it has thickened to a jam-like consistency. Then add the vanilla and orange extracts.
Once your dough has chilled, you can start assembling.
Prepare your baking sheets with parchment paper (don't skip the paper, or you'll have a huge mess to clean up from the fillings oozing!). Role out the portioned dough on well floured work surface, into about a 9 inch disk. Place about two tablespoons of cranberry sauce on the dough, and spread into an even layer. Then sprinkle 1/3 cup of the dry mixture on top of the cranberry and gently press into it with your finger tips to make sure the little bits are stuck in.
Cut the circle into 12 wedges (first cut the disk in half, then in quarters and so on to cut them evenly). Going from the wider end, role the wedge into a crescent shape.
Place the crescent (pointed ends down) on your baking sheets and chill in the fridge for half an hour. If desired, make an egg wash by whisking an egg with a teaspoon or so of water and using a pastry brush to lightly coat each crescent. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes until lightly browned. They will ooze a bit when in the oven, so you want to try and remove them from the pans pretty soon after they come out so they don't get stuck.
And there you have it. So good. I want to try them with bunches of other flavors now...even though I did end up liking the cranberry. I think raspberry would be yummy to try!
Here's what everyone else has done!