Here’s the tale of a recipe that almost wasn’t. Real talk: Despite what you see on food blogs and Instagram, not all food blogging forays are a roaring success.
I embarked on this project in hopes of incorporating the flavors of my Southern upbringing—pecans, bourbon—into that beloved cookie of my adopted Jewish culture. Doesn’t barely sweet cream-cheese dough wrapped around a rich pecan filling sound like a match made in heaven?
I set off on a dough journey expecting to create almost three dozen perfectly rolled cookies resembling tiny little twists, which is precisely what rugelach means in Yiddish.
Well, that’s not how things unfolded (no pun intended) for me. Instead, I found myself with approximately 30 lumps of dough and filling baked into one mess or another, a single small piece of untouched dough remaining…and absolutely zero successful rugelach to show for my efforts.
I was definitely sweating it a bit as I thought to myself, These piles of baked dough taste good, so I know the ingredients are right, and perhaps a more skilled baker could make these rolls happen…but what on earth am I going to photograph?!
And while typically I’d keep trying until it’s right and share just that—trials and tribulations covered up and set aside—in my final post, this time I decided to switch things up. I’m sharing the journey with you so that you can avoid my mistakes and roll Insta-worthy rugelach on the first (maybe second) try.
So, do as I say, not as I did on the first three tries—here are a few of the lessons I learned in rolling up successful rugelach:
First, chill—yes, yourself, but mostly your dough. Don’t try to rush it.
Second, the more the merrier—when it comes to flour. Generously flour both sides of your dough. You may think that only the side that’s on the counter needs to be floured, but, if both sides aren’t floured, the dough will stick to itself as you roll causing it to break.
Third, less is more—when it comes to filling. Don’t overfill. I’m the first to go heavy on the filling—particularly when it’s chocolate—but that will only make it more difficult to roll and cause the filling to spill out during baking.
Finally, take your time. Work slowly. There’s no rush here. Roll deliberately and cautiously. If you need to add more flour as you go, do it. If you need to use a spatula to carefully peel the dough away from the counter, go for it. Put the dough back in the fridge midway if you need to. As they say, good things come to those who wait.
Remember, baking is a process. We don’t always get it right the first time and it doesn’t always end up looking social media-ready every time we step into the kitchen. It’s all about learning, experimenting and coming together to share our delicious experiences.