Perfect Vegan Rugelach, Hanukkah Crescent Cookies
Rugelach reminds me of a little cafe in Jerusalem where my boyfriend (now husband) and I would go when he was on leave, and order a plate of these flaky golden crescents with hot chocolate for dipping.
I have been using a version of Joan Nathan’s Rugelach recipe since before I became vegan. I veganized it with a few minor changes; adding lemon zest to the dough and cutting the butter instead of creaming it with the sugar.
If I had to name an all-time favorite cook book author Joan Nathan would win hands down. Each of her books is a wonderful read on the cooking and culture of jews of the diaspora. Here is one of my favorite of her books; King Solomon’s Table: A Culinary Exploration of Jewish Cooking from around the World.
“Take eight cents from the cracked cup and get a quarter loaf of Jew rye bread and see that it’s fresh. Then take a nickel, go to Sauerwein’s and ask for the end-of-the-tongue for a nickel.”
–A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
My Grandma Eva was a bitch. Ahh that felt so good to write. She was much more than that all defining word but basically grandma told it how she saw it. Here is a classic grandma moment:
My sister, dad and I were sitting with Grandma at the formica table in her all pink kitchen. Grandma had set out food for sandwiches; Classic aromatic rye bread, a squat jar of thick pungent brown mustard, half a wedge of iceberg lettuce, a thick sliced tomato straight from the Frigidaire, slivered white onion, and piles of sandwich meats. Oh yes, I forgot the best part; a mountain of huge sour pickles from the wooden barrel at the deli.
“…down Graham Avenue, the Ghetto street. She was excited by the filled pushcarts-each a little store in itself-the bargaining, emotional Jews and the peculiar smells of the neighborhood; baked stuffed fish, sour rye bread fresh from the oven, and something that smelled like honey boiling.”
–A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
Grandma sat across from me at her small round table. She was staring at me as I smeared the mustard on my bread, her eyes narrow.
“Hanne, your sister Helle (my blond shiksa-dream of a sister) is beautiful. She could be a model, look at those legs. Oy”
I carried on making my sandwich carefully layering onions over the mustard.
Grandma’s eyes narrowed again, she cleared her throat.
“Helle, is a Student, Helle gets straight As. Helle is the smart one.”
I nodded and began munching my sandwich, apparently grandma was on a roll.
Now she turned her brown eyes on me and stared; scrutinizing me inside and out.
Two minutes later she sighed, “Hanne, you…you…you have a nice profile.” she said, as she stood to refill the pickle plate.
“And you have bad skin. Oh, look everyone, we’re all making observations!”
– Dwight, The Office
My grandma made the best Babka! Here is her cinnamon chocolate recipe veganized.
If cookies are your thing then you must try my Mint Milanos. You will have a Pepperidge Farm experience.
Dark chocolate and cinnamon filling rolled in flaky melt-in-your-mouth buttery pastry dough. Oy
Tis recipe was inspired by Joan Nathan's recipe for rugelach, veganized and tweaked to my palate. Makes 50 small rugelach.
- 1/2 pound vegan butter, cut into 1/2 " cubes and frozen
- 2 cup all purpose flour
- 8 ounces Vegan cream cheese cold
- zest from one lemon
- 1 pinch salt
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 tbsp ground cinnamon
- 1/3 cups finely chopped dark chocolate
- 1/2 cup cherry jam or your favorite jam
- 3 tbsp plant milk
- 1 tbsp maple syrup, or agave
- 1 tsp sugar for sprinkling over the pastry optional
Add your cream cheese in "blobs" that you break off with your hands. Pulse until combined. Now add your cubed "butter" and pulse on and off in three second pulses until you your dough begins to clump together.
Remove the dough from the food processor and give it a few quick kneads to bring it together into a ball. Press into a disk and cover with plastic wrap.
Refrigerate until form at least 1 hour. This step is necessary if you want a flaky pastry.
Heat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
In a small bowl combine the sugar and cinnamon.
Line a cooke sheet with parchment paper. Divide your dough into four quarters.
Roll the first quarter in to a ball. Roll out to a circle with a diameter of about 12 inches.
Cut your circle into 16 wedges.
Brush each wedge with jam. Each circle will take between two to three tablespoons of jam. Sprinkle each wedge with the cinnamon sugar and then the chopped chocolate. Roll up each rugelach from the wide end giving.
Place all your rugelach on the baking sheet and continue with the rest of the dough until your run out of dough or space.
Bake for 20 minutes.
Mix your plant milk and maple syrup in a small bowl.
After 15 minutes brush the tops with glaze and sprinkle the optional sugar over for a little bit of crunch.
Bake 5-10 more minute to desired golden brown color is reached.
Place the cookie sheet on a wire rack to cool.