Thursday, December 10, 2009


Earlier this week, all of the neighbors (wives) on our street got together for a Christmas cookie exchange. Last year, our first December in this house, I brought one of my favorites - you know those nut ball cookies made solely out of ground pecans, powdered sugar and butter that just melt away in your mouth. But, so did my neighbor a few doors down. Oops. This year I wanted to make sure I wasn't stepping on any toes again. So I turned to a few of my favorite sources for inspiration on what they thought were some of the ultimate cookies to make for a party. After leafing through all of the recipes in the various December issue magazines at the house, I hadn't found anything that jumped out at me. Then, the answer came to me so obviously I could have smacked my own forehead (maybe I did?) I should make a Jewish cookie to bring to the exchange. Perfect.

Of course, there wasn't much competition for what it would be - ruggelach. Ruggelach (pronounced RUH-guh-lah) or 'ruggies' for short in our house growing up, have always been one of my favorites. They are a bit labor intensive, but always present for special occasions. When Spencer was born, there was a blizzard in NY and it was three more days before my mom caught a flight down to meet her first grandchild. When she arrived, her suitcase was filled with FIVE large plastic containers of sweets, two of which were all ruggleach. (OK, so the goodies were mainly for the bris - not because a first-time mom needs 10 dozen cookies in the freezer.)

Strangely, I'm pretty sure that I had never made them on my own before this week. I was pleased to see that a single recipe makes 64 cookies, which meant I could bring three dozen for the cookie exchange and still have plenty left over to stash in the freezer. Score.

I confess, I'm really not much of a baker. I'm too inexact in the kitchen - did you see my rolled 'circle' of dough above? But this actually isn't too complicated. The only requirement is starting this a day in advance so the dough can chill in the fridge overnight. Even with a simple recipe, I still managed to goof up a few times, but hey, they're cookies, so even the ones that aren't perfect still taste yummy.

Now that I've made these exactly once by myself, I feel that I am in a position of authority to impart tips to keep in mind when making these in the future.
1. MUST USE A SILPAT BAKING SHEET. I put this in all caps because it's really not optional. Without them, this is a miserable experience.
2. Place cookies on baking sheet with point tucked underneath to prevent it from opening up in the oven.
3. Transfer cookies from baking sheet while they are still warm. The ensures the leaked filling will remain on the baking sheet, instead of hardening as unattractive 'wings' on the edges of the cookies.
4. Put some in the freezer, otherwise they will all disappear very quickly.

Recipe from Sylvia Fayne (need to ask mom who this is, her name is written in the recipe book mom made for me after graduating college)

3 Cups flour
1/2 lb butter
8 oz container sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla

Apricot Jam or Preserves
Shredded coconut
Chopped walnuts


Use a food processor to cut cold flour into butter until pea-size crumbles form. Add sour cream and vanilla and mix until combined. Ball and refrigerate overnight. Cut dough in fourths, and roll each ball into a 12" circle. Sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar, roll one more time, then flip over. Cut dough into 16 section. Mix filling together in a bowl and place 1-2 teaspoons of filling 1/2" from the wide edge of each section of dough. Starting at the wide end, roll one section the dough towards the middle. Repeat for all section, and remaining balls of dough. Place rolled cookies on a baking sheet lined with Silpat and bake for 20-25 minutes at 350ºF or until slightly browned.


  1. I LOVE these!! I was not lying when I said I could down a dozen in one sitting.

  2. I have always wanted to make these but haven't done so yet. I was inspired by the Barefoot Contessa! These look amazing Bon... you continue to impress me!