Tuesday, November 4, 2008
One of my favorite insults ever was recently directed at me by my friend Julie, a fellow TWD-er. Julie and I work together in real life, and have been working together on a notsofun project that involves spending most of the day on the phone with lots of justifiably irate people. One day, there was a lot going on with this project, and I kept calling Julie, emailing her, and stopping by her office. I finally must have bugged her one time too many, because when I knocked on her door, she looked up at me and said "You again! I like you better online." Ah, Jules. Right back atcha, babe. I sure wish that "online Julie" made more regular appearances (although I get MORE than my fill of real life Julie, trust me).
Well, in contrast to the way that Julie feels about me, I could not get enough of this rugelach. So thank you, Piggy of Piggy's Cooking Journal, for picking this special treat. It's the kind of cookie (pastry?) that makes me feel like a real baker! I didn't want to disappoint Dorie, Dorie's mother-in-law, or Mrs. Strauss, so I made it a few different ways.
This is my kind of dough -- four ingredients that can be whipped together in no time. I was a little bit worried about overmixing, and I thought that I might have gone a few seconds too long with my first batch:
but it baked up just right. I felt more confident with my second batch and knew when to stop processing. My first batch sat in the fridge for days before I got around to topping it, and was a little bit easier to work with than my second batch, which was only refrigerated for a few hours.
Rolling out the dough was a bit stressful for me, since it required that I use judgment. I can no more reliably eyeball "10 or 11 inches" than I can solve Fermat's Last Theorem. So I used a ruler.
I realize that the shape that I rolled does not even remotely resemble a circle. What can I tell you? I'm just not very good at this.
I remember taking a standardized test in high school that measured your aptitude in various subject areas, and then based on your score, provided a narrative analysis of careers that may be suited to your academic strengths. In addition to the usual math and reading, there was a section on "spatial relations," which tested how well you perceive sizes and shapes. I scored abysmally on the spatial relations section, and my narrative said something like: "Whatever you do, we beg you, please don't be an architect." And as you can see based on my efforts to cut my dough into 1/16ths, this analysis was spot-on.
Big Daddy rugelach and teeny tiny rugelach:
Filling the rugelach was the fun part. The sky's the limit in terms of what you can put in these. I liked Dorie's classic combos and figured that they would serve as a good starting point.
I made some with raspberry jam and some with apricot jam. Half of my raspberry ones had chocolate (I used semisweet rather than bittersweet), the other half did not, only because I love my husband. For the apricot ones, I used pecans, golden raisins and white chocolate chips.
Four-ish ounces of chocolate, give or take, according to my flimsy, antique and not-very-accurate kitchen scale:
Dear Santa Claus,
I have been a really, really good girl this year. I did not fight with my sister, and I have tried extra hard to watch my language. All I want for Christmas is this digital kitchen scale, which was recommended to me by my blogger friend Nancy. Can your elves make that? If not, I'm told that the website that I linked for you is THE PLACE for all of your weighing and measuring needs. Thank you, Santa. We'll have lots and lots (and lots) of cookies for you if you stop by our house this year. And tell Rudolph that we'll save him a carrot!
After topping and cutting these, it's time to roll them. I was prepared for things to go very poorly for me at this stage of the game. But to my relief, they rolled up fairly easily. The longer the dough sits out, the harder they are to roll. Incidentally, just a couple of days before I made this rugelach, my son gave me this for my birthday:
I had no earthly idea what it was -- I thought that the "other part" of it was in a different gift bag, and when I put the two pieces together it would all make sense. But no, David said that he let our 6 year old loose in Williams-Sonoma and told him to pick out a gadget for me, and that's what he picked. I just held it up and said "it's a metal thing! I LOVE it, honey!!" Well, imagine my delight when I sniffed around a bit on the WS website a few days later and realized that it was a pastry scraper, perfect for this:
It really did make the rolling easier, especially after the dough had been sitting out for a while.
Well, what can I say? We just loved this rugelach. I loved the rugelach. David loved the rugelach. David's parents were in town and they loved the rugelach. I am a gusher, you know that I'm a gusher, and I'm sure that my gushing rings hollow by now -- but these are definitely some of the best cookies (pastries?) that I've ever had. Dorie makes a passing reference to buying rugelach in a German bakery, and since David lived in Germany for several years as a small child, I was eager to ask him how this rugelach compared to the rugelach of his childhood. He said that he remembers being chased through the apartment building by a 10 foot tall St. Bernard, and remembers having the bejeezus scared out of him when he had to ride a log down into the salt mines on a trip to Salzburg -- but has no recollection whatsoever of rugelach. Okay, so that wasn't helpful. But he did love these! As for whether I preferred the raspberry or the apricot, well, that's sort of like the eternal "George Clooney or Brad Pitt?" question. Personally, I'm a George woman myself, but I'm not going to kick Brad out of bed for eating crackers. The raspberry and chocolate combo was pretty close to cookie nirvana as far as I'm concerned, but the apricot was awfully good too. And there are several other combos that I've got in mind that I am dying to try, such as apple jelly with walnuts, and orange marmalade with dried cranberries, and I can't even imagine the abundance of additional brilliant ideas that I'll collect from my fellow TWD bakers. In fact, all of this yapping about rugelach is cutting into my rugelach-making time. Gotta run! Thanks again, Piggy, for a great pick!