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Modern Mensch, Jake Cohen, shares a recipe from new cookbook, "Jew-ish"

Jake Cohen shares his Rugelach recipe! #newdaynw

Jake Choen is the editorial and test kitchen director of the FeedFeed (@thefeedfeed). His new cookbook, Jew-ish, Reinvented Recipies from a Modern Mensch, demonstrates that Jewish food is oh-so-much-more than the classics.   

Recipe: You Can Go Your Own Way: Rugelach Edition 

Yield: Makes 48 Rugelach. Prep Time: 30 Minutes, Plus 1 Hour Chilling Time. Cook Time: 20 Minutes 

Everyone has that one sweet from their childhood that bubbles up all those fuzzy, nostalgic vibes. For me, it’s rugelach, those flaky crescents of cream cheese dough rolled up with anything from chocolate to jam to nuts. Every year as far back as I can remember, Evelyn Offner, a dear family friend, would drop off a giant aluminum tray packed with dozens of rugelach for my family right before Rosh Hashanah, and all hell would break loose. In a scene reminiscent of a Walmart on Black Friday, my mother, sister, and I would fight like animals to grab as many of her dark chocolate or cinnamon-walnut rolled beauties as we could. And they almost certainly never lasted long enough to make it to the Jewish New Year.

After years of asking, Evelyn was gracious enough to share her recipe with me, and I’ve since adapted it with every possible filling combination you can imagine. These four variations are my favorites, spanning both sweet and savory, so you’re ready for any occasion!

For those looking to veer toward a sweet to nosh on with coffee, upgrade the classic choco late filling with chocolate- hazelnut spread and adorn it with crumbles of halva for the gorgeous pairing of choco-late and sesame. For jelly lovers, throw on some peanut butter, packing the ultimate sandwich into the ultimate cookie.

If you’re ready to embrace rugelach as the buttery, poppable party app I’m trying to rebrand it as, let’s talk. Since it’s already a cream cheese dough, you can schmear it with a little more, laced with chopped scallions and lox, of course, for all the flavors of your morning bagel, including the everything bagel seasoning. To fin-ish off this Jewish quartet, cacio e pepe rugelach need no further explanation than that they’re cheesy bites of heaven and I will typically eat a dozen in one sitting.

Whichever route you take, I promise it couldn’t be any simpler—the dough comes together in minutes and the filling combinations require, at most, one bowl for stirring. Let’s get rolling.

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ¼ cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2⅓ cups (315g) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 recipe rugelach filling ( recipes follow)
  • 1 large egg, beaten

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the cream cheese, butter, and confectioners’ sugar. Beginning on low speed and gradually increasing to medium, mix until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the flour and salt, then mix until a smooth dough forms. Divide the dough into 4 equal disks, wrap each in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 1 hour.

2. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line two half sheet pans with parchment paper.

3. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out one disk of the dough into a 9-inch round. Spread one- quarter of the filling evenly over the dough, leaving a ½-inch border. Slice the dough into 12 even wedges. Roll each wedge up tightly from the outside edge in, then place the rugelach on one of the prepared sheet pans, spacing them ½ inch apart. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling, dividing the rugelach between the prepared pans. Brush the rugelach with the beaten egg.

4. Bake, rotating the pans halfway through, for 20 to 22 minutes, until the rugelach are golden brown. Let cool slightly, then serve.

Recipe: Cacio e Pepe Rugelach Filling

  • 2 cups freshly and finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cups freshly and finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for garnish

1. In a small bowl, mix together the Parmesan, Pecorino, mayonnaise, and pepper until smooth. Garnish each rugelach with a pinch of pepper before baking.

Excerpted from JEW-ISH: A COOKBOOK: Reinvented Recipes from a Modern Mensch © 2021 by Jake Cohen. Photography © 2021 by Matt Taylor-Gross. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.