Friday, September 25, 2015

Raspberry rugelach

vegan raspberry rugelach

Frozen raspberries—they are a blessing and a curse. A blessing in that they allow me to eat and bake with raspberries year-round...a curse in that they allow me to eat and bake with raspberries year-round. Frozen fruit is the enemy of seasonal baking, I tell you. But I’ll also tell you that it was late raspberry season when I made these little cookies, which really goes to show you how behind I am on posting my recipes after making them.

Nevertheless, here I am, a plateful of raspberry rugelach in hand.

A rugelach in the hand is worth two on the plate.

Now, about rugelach. Curious about the history of this popular Jewish pastry, I did a little Google-fu to see if there was any interesting background information available to help justify my overzealous rugelach consumption.

It turns out, many of my assumptions about the treat were wrong. According to Wikipedia, cream cheese is not, in fact, an essential ingredient. Sour cream is the older ingredient, but many American recipes call for cream cheese because, well, ‘Murica. We like cream cheese over here.

The origins of rugelach are subject to debate, like many famous pastries (see also: baklava). Some sources claim that the crescent-shaped cookies were invented to celebrate the end of “lengthy Turkish siege of Vienna”, given that the Ottoman flag actually had a crescent on it.

Eh...I can kind of see it. source

And if that tale is true, I’ll give props to the bakers back then for creativity. It takes some ingenuity to look at the flag of the enemy and say, “Hey, let’s bake some cookies vaguely shaped like one of the forms on their flag!” But this tale might just be an urban legend. Here it is stated that the treat has Polish origins, with the early European variations made of yeast-leavened dough and generally not containing dairy. Later on, American Jews added lots of buttery dairy-based deliciousness and went on to invent all kinds of tasty fillings like chocolate, raisins, jams, and nuts.

The dairy version is apparently popular on the Jewish celebrations of Shavuot (the Feast of Weeks) and Hanukkah (which I cannot spell correctly without using spell check, goddamit). Some are rolled into vaguely-Ottoman crescent shapes, while others are sliced like strudels and baked in rolls. Not to mention, this book goes on to say that the dough may be used in tarts or strudels as well as in traditional rugelach.

Rugelach tart? I need to get on that. Just imagine—buttery rugelach dough, filled with sticky-sweet rugelach stuffins...oh my god why has that not been invented?

I don't know, man. This world is crazy.

So today, I present you a truly modern variety of rugelach. This variation is vegan, of course, using faux cream cheese and coconut oil of all things as well as a—clutch your pearls—chia seed jam as filling. Yes, it’s not exactly true rugelach. But it does a hell of a good job confusing your tastebuds. 

I adapted the filling from this recipe from The Little Epicurean and had great success using homemade raspberry chia jam instead of storebought raspberry jam. Why not just make my own, sugar-filled jam? I don’t know. I’m kind of scared of making real jam after that one time when I wasted an enormous haul of strawberries on a shitty batch of the stuff that refused to thicken. Nope, I’ll opt for super-simple chia jam every time.

It was a bit difficult to roll up, but with patience and a careful touch I was able to keep the roll intact. The result is absolutely delicious. I mean, get a load of all the stuff piled into those layers of dough—raspberries, pistachios, cinnamon sugar, AND a nice layer of coconut oil for extra butteriness. Pure heaven.

Eating these is a religious experience.

Oh, and did I mention—these won me a $25 gift card in a mini cookie-baking contest. All $25 were soon spent on baking ingredients because that shit ain’t cheap.

So technically, I could call this recipe “award-winning”, even though it was a very small and very casual contest. But I won’t split hairs.

Here’s the recipe.


Raspberry rugelach



120 grams • nondairy cream cheese, at room temperature • ½ cup

112 grams • coconut oil, softened • ½ cup

170 grams • all-purpose flour • 1 ¼ cups

1 gram • baking powder • ¼ teaspoon

Pinch salt


246 grams • raspberries • 2 cups

12 grams • chia seeds • 1 tablespoon

20 grams • maple syrup • 1 tablespoon

28 grams • coconut oil, melted • 2 tablespoons

50 grams • granulated sugar • ¼ cup

0.5 grams • cinnamon • ½ teaspoon

60 grams • pistachios, chopped • ½ cup


20 grams • maple syrup • 1 tablespoon

15 grams • nondairy milk • 1 tablespoon


To make dough, start by placing cream cheese and coconut oil in the bowl of an electric stand mixer. Beat until smooth. With mixer on low speed, spoon in flour, followed by baking powder and salt. Mix just until the dough comes together.

Divide dough in half and wrap up tightly in plastic wrap. Chill for at least 2 hours.

To make filling, start by making raspberry jam. Combine raspberries, chia seeds, and maple syrup in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Mash berries with a fork. Transfer to a bowl and let chill until cooled completely and thickened. Alternatively, you can use store-bought raspberry jam or your favorite recipe for homemade jam (that doesn’t involve chia seeds). You will need about 224 grams • 8 ounces of jam.

When you’re ready to roll up the rugelach, combine the granulated sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Also lightly toast pistachios on a stovetop. Have the melted coconut oil and raspberry jam at the ready as well. For topping, simply whisk together maple syrup and nondairy milk in a small bowl.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

Take out one half of the dough and set out on a lightly-floured work surface. Roll out into a rectangle about 15 x 9 inches. Brush the rectangle with coconut oil and sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar mixture. Spread raspberry jam on top and sprinkle with chopped pistachios and a bit more cinnamon sugar. Starting at the long end, carefully roll up dough into a tight log and place seam-side down on a baking sheet.

Transfer log to a baking sheet. Repeat the above steps with the other half of the dough that is still chilling in the fridge.

Brush maple syrup-milk mixture on top of logs. Cut rugelach into slices using a sharp knife (or a serrated knife), about 1 inch thick each. Arrange on baking sheets seam-side down.

Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through baking, until golden brown. Let cool in baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Munch.


They may not be perfect, but they're worth it.

For more Jewish-inspired recipes, check out these links.

Chocolate cinnamon rugelach. The perfect addition to a holiday cookie tray!

Homemade vegan challah. Begging to be made into French toast.

Chocolate babka. Bread + chocolate = pure bliss.