I am a vanilla person: one of the few food lovers completely unseduced by chocolate’s charms. Perhaps that explains why I made the match: buttery caramels with tender rugelach. It was bashert, or meant to be: two delicious nonchocolate sweets just waiting to be introduced.
And using purchased caramels makes these rugelach as easy to prepare as, well, the chocolate chip kind. But the sweet molten filling does tend to seep out somewhat during baking. I find that adding chopped pecans and shaping the rugelach in rectangles rather than crescents helps cut down on leakage. And when needed, I just trim away the caramel that has found its way out of the baked cookies.
See the Cook’s Note for classic walnut-raisin and a sublime almond-paste-cranberry rugelach.
Make the pastry: in a food processor, mix the flour, salt, and brown sugar. Add the cream cheese, butter, sour cream, and vanilla, and pulse just until the mixture begins to form a ball around the blades. Do not overprocess. Transfer the dough to a work surface and knead lightly and quickly into a smooth, compact roll. (Or prepare manually: in a large bowl, quickly mix together the cream cheese, butter, sour cream, and vanilla until well blended. Gradually add the flour, salt, and sugar. Knead the mixture lightly until thoroughly combined and smooth.)
Divide the dough into four equal parts. Put each piece between two sheets of wax paper and flatten into a large oblong using the palm of your hand. If necessary, refrigerate briefly until the dough is firm enough to roll.
Work with one oblong at a time, keeping the others refrigerated. Roll the oblong between the wax paper into a
Loosen the wax paper from both sides of the dough. (The paper becomes pressed into the dough with rolling and will be difficult to remove after you cut the dough, unless it has been loosened first.) Place the dough rectangle back down on a sheet of the wax paper, and sprinkle it all over with
© 2008 Jayne Cohen. All rights reserved.