Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Happy Holidays 2010!

I just wanted to stop in and wish everyone a Happy Holiday. Like you I have been knee deep in a "to do" list. But, I thought it would be nice to give you a sneak peek at the topper for a special cake I am making for my neice. It is to be delivered on Christmas Eve two states away! I can, I can, I can, I know I can (I hope)! Anyway enjoy your holiday, stay safe and stay tuned for more on "the cake"!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Maple-Pecan Medjool Date Rugelach

This month the Avid Backer's Challenge was the Eastern European pastry called Rugelach. Rugelach is one of my holiday staples so when the ABC Baking group invited me to bake along this month using a version by Flo Braker, I was thrilled. Although I have been making rugelach for many years now I was looking forward to this challenge for three reasons. First of all, I have never been totally happy with my dough recipe. Second, I have never made rugelach with a date filling. And last but not least I have never tried out any recipes by Flo Braker. Not suprisingly I accepted the challenge with an open yet excited mind. Let's see the results.
Rugelach is traditionally made with a cream cheese pastry dough and this version is no different. However, in the past the pastry dough I used was often quite sticky and seldom flaky no matter how careful I was measuring the ingredients. The instructions suggest using a food processor to mix all the ingredients which makes the blending of ingredients faster therefore the butter and cream cheese stays a little cooler. I found this version to be much less sticky and much more flaky. Yay!
There are many different fillings for rugelach. I typically us a layer of jam (apricot or raspberry), sprinkled with raisins or currants, walnuts, brown sugar and cinnamon. There are however many more fillings to choose from such as- chocolate filling, prune filling and this date version. Flo Braker uses a mixture of brown sugar, cinnamon, and maple syrup, with chopped pecans and quartered dates. Now if you know me you will expect my brain to go into overdrive and make another filling using the same ingredients. Well, you would be correct. The picture above right is true to the recipe. The next photo on the left will show a second version. For this version of filling I will share my recipe.
7 oz dried pitted dated; chopped
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup orange juice
1 tsp zest of orange
1/8 tsp cinnamon
Place all ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes, until most of the liquid is absorbed. Put mixture in a processor and puree. Set aside to cool.
The usual procedure for assembling the rugelach is to roll out a portion of the dough into a 8" circle. Cut into 12 pie-like sections. For Flo's version the wedges are brushed with maple syrup, sprinkled with brown sugar, and chopped pecans. A section of date is place at the top and the wedge is rolled. For my alternate version I brushed with the maple syrup, spread the pureed dates over the section, sprinkled with chopped pecans and rolled. The cookies are then baked until golden brown. After the come out of the oven s glaze of powdered sugar, maple syrup and hot water is brushed over the tops. They are then dipped into chopped pecans. Allow the cookies to cool completely.
I happily found Flo Braker's version of the cream cheese pastry to be more flaky and delicious than the version I have been using. The date filling no matter which version you choose are both heavenly. I had two volunteer tasters that replied only with big smiles and gentle moans. I found Flo Brakers recipe to be supreme! I will replace my old stand-by for this version when preparing this season's holiday rugelach.
If you have the opportunity to bake Rugelach don't miss it.