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From the book Joan Nathan’s Jewish Holiday Cookbook by
Yield 64 cookies


In the Middle Ages it was traditional to eat cheesecakes at Hanukkah in commemoration of the cheesecakes or pancakes Judith gave to General Holofernes. After eating these cakes, the general became thirsty for wine, which Judith also served him. Soon he swooned, Judith slew him, and the Jews were saved. Today many people serve sour-cream pancakes at Hanukkah in memory of Judith. Others serve rugelach, a half-moon cream-cheese cookie, which may be a far cry from the original cheesecake but is nevertheless a melt-in-the-mouth delicacy perfect for the fanciest party.

Probably the most popular of American Jewish cookies, this horn-shaped treat was made in Europe with butter; cream cheese was added in this country. I love Ann Amernick’s version: it has no sugar in the dough but a sprinkling on top of the finished cookie. She also uses this dough to make hamantashen.



8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
2 sticks (½ pound) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
¼ tsp. salt

Apricot filling

1 cup thick apricot preserves
¾ cup walnuts, roughly chopped

Chocolate filling

1 cup (about 8 ounces) shaved bittersweet chocolate
¼ cup sugar

Cinnamon-sugar filling

4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
½ cup sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
~ Confectioners’ sugar


  1. To make the dough, place the cream cheese and the butter in an electric mixer fitted with a paddle. Cream at a low speed until combined, about 2 minutes. Add the flour and salt and mix until a very soft dough is formed, about 2 more minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line 2 cookie sheets with baking parchment (or a Silpat baking mat).
  3. Mix the ingredients for the apricot or chocolate filling and divide the dough into 4 balls. On a lightly floured surface roll the balls out into 4 circles about ⅛-inch thick and 9 inches in diameter. Spread the apricot or chocolate filling over the dough. If using the cinnamon-sugar filling, brush the melted butter on first, then sprinkle the combined cinnamon and sugar.
  4. Using a dull knife, cut each circle into 16 pie-shaped pieces about 2 inches wide at the circumference. Roll up from the wide side to the center. Place the rugelach on the lined cookie sheets. Bake in the oven on the middle and lower racks, switching after 12 minutes, also switching back to front. Continue baking about 13 more minutes, or until golden brown. Remove the rugelach to racks to cool.
  5. Sprinkle the apricot and chocolate rugelach with confectioners’ sugar just before serving.


From the Culinate food editor: I, too, like the not-sweet dough, but think it could use a little salt, so I’ve added 1/4 tsp. salt.

My family also liked these variations: For the chocolate filling, I used Green & Black’s Maya Gold (dark chocolate with orange and spices), and to the cinnamon-sugar filling, I added currants and orange zest.

This content is from the book Joan Nathan’s Jewish Holiday Cookbook by Joan Nathan.

There are 19 comments on this item
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10% recommend this recipe
1. by LOVESTOBAKEJUSTLAZY on Dec 8, 2008 at 11:27 AM PST

I love this site- you folks have the simple to make but taste complicated recipes. I admit I am learning everyday something new and you folks are filling my desert card with unusual yummy treats for the family..thankyou. I have made the marshmallows, and they are easy and a great project for kids even if they do not turn out looking like marshmallows when you do it, they taste yummy.

2. by Cynthya Petzen on Dec 8, 2008 at 11:42 AM PST

This sounds wonderful. I always assumed rugelach was very hard to make, but this looks fairly easy. I doubt mine will look as nice as the ones in the photo, though!

3. by AsTheNight on Dec 8, 2008 at 11:43 AM PST

I wonder how they’d taste if I made the cinnamon filled version, but added a little ancho chili powder?

4. by cdziuba on Dec 8, 2008 at 11:48 AM PST

I’m very happy to see the cream cheese in the recipe, I can’t fathom how it would taste without it. Fabulous recipe!

5. by Tamar on Dec 8, 2008 at 12:07 PM PST

The tradition which is described in the post is actually for the jewish feast of weeks (“Shavuot”) in which dairy foods are eaten. In hannukah, fried fod is eaten to symbolize the lighting of the oil lamp in the temple. Still, Rugelach are tasty any time of year.
Thank you.

6. by shandon on Dec 8, 2008 at 12:57 PM PST

I wonder how this would turn out without an electric mixer? Definitely would want to try the chocolate variation!

7. by Fiksu on Dec 8, 2008 at 1:09 PM PST

Rugelach dough is always a little tricky. It can be very sticky, so you have to work carefully and fast.

8. by dusksunset on Dec 8, 2008 at 1:32 PM PST

I’ve always loved rugelach and now that I see how much butter they contain, I know why!

9. by weth on Dec 8, 2008 at 2:22 PM PST

This looks wonderful and easy! It also seems like a lot of variation could be made on the basic Apricot filling, in that a variety of nut and preserve combinations would work for this recipe.

10. by macaronibirds on Dec 8, 2008 at 3:21 PM PST

I’ve never made this before.. it looks like it would be fun (and tasty) to try.

11. by Xanthippe on Dec 8, 2008 at 6:28 PM PST

Joan Nathan’s recipes always rock, and her rugelach is no exception! To AsTheNight, love the idea of a bit of ancho chili powder in the cinnamon version; just be judicious and I’m sure you’ll have a winner.

12. by Terry C on Dec 8, 2008 at 7:10 PM PST

These sound so good and easy too make. And not overly sweet which is a plus for me.

13. by anonymous on Dec 8, 2008 at 7:15 PM PST

I love to make rugelach to give away as “Christmas” gifts. I consider them the ultimate holiday crossover cookie, as they are most definitely Jewish, yet have the richness and specialness that marks Christmas cookies. For our inter-faith family they’re perfect!

14. by dbrush on Dec 8, 2008 at 8:41 PM PST

Rugelach is one of my husband’s favorite cookies, but I’ve always been too intimidated to make them. They look inherently complicated. Your recipe looks incredibly simple. I’ll try them tomorrow.

15. by nicole309 on Dec 9, 2008 at 12:18 AM PST

I make these every year and love them!

16. by ennsee on Dec 9, 2008 at 8:48 AM PST

These sound delicious!

17. by flip58 on Dec 9, 2008 at 10:13 AM PST

I love Rugelach. I am going to make this recipe. Thanks

18. by Jamie1 on Dec 9, 2008 at 1:12 PM PST

I love rugelach and will have to try this recipe.

19. by Laura S. on Dec 2, 2010 at 7:31 PM PST

The recipe was good, except for the ones I put on the lower rack :| those burnt. I’m thinking middle rack only from now on for these suckers.

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