Thirty-five years ago, I sat in Mrs. Goodman’s kitchen and she gave me this recipe. It was the first time I had ever made them, and they were great. Over the years, I realized that although everyone seems to have the same recipe with the same proportions, mine always came out lighter and flakier. I pass on my three “secrets” to you in my "tidbits" at the bottom of this recipe.
At one time I used to make a thousand of these at a time for the largest kosher caterer in Philadelphia. Nowadays, I am content to make a double batch of 150 for my friends and family.
- Cream the cheese and butter together on high speed with an electric mixer until well combined and light and fluffy (the mixture should feather out from the edge of the bowl). Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add flour and turn your mixer on and off only until dough looks like the flour has been incorporated. Remove the dough from the bowl and lightly drop it on a smooth surface a few times until it forms a compact mass. (Pressing with your hands could soften the butter and change the consistency of your finished product.)
- Divide mixture into 8 cylinders, and refrigerate 1 hour or until dough is firm.
- Roll each portion of dough onto a board that is heavily “floured” with confectioners’ sugar. Roll out into a 6 × 9-inch rectangle.
- Combine the sugar, cinnamon, raisins, and walnuts in a bowl.
- After the dough is rolled out, sprinkle with some of the sugar-nut mixture. Roll dough into a log from the long side. Pinch the seam together on the bottom and the ends slightly under.
- Cut filled logs into 8 or 9 pieces, and place on an ungreased or parchment-lined cookie sheet. Repeat with remaining dough logs.
- Bake in a 350°F oven for 12–15 minutes or until golden. Cool completely before freezing.
- Using salted butter in a pastry is the exception. Here it is necessary to evenly distribute salt in non-liquid dough.
- Handling this dough as little as possible keeps the fat content from dissolving into the flour, with the result more like puff pastry instead of cookie dough.
- Always roll this dough on a board covered with confectioners’ sugar. This sugar helps balance the richness of the dough with the sweet filling.
- Confectioners’ sugar contains 2 to 3 percent cornstarch, which helps absorb moisture and prevent the dough from sticking to the counter or rolling pin.
- The raw dough or the baked rugelach can be frozen for later use.