Walnut Rugelach Recipe

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This recipe for rugelach makes a tender, delicious, absolutely amazing walnut rugelach cookies.  They're so good, in fact, that my family has renamed them.  No longer are they called walnut rugelach--they are now known as "The Magical Cookies of Deliciousness."  Yeah, they're that good.

line of rugelach made with easy rugelach recipe, with text overlay reading "Walnut Rugelach Recipe."

I made these walnut rugelach for this month's Taste Creations Blog Hop.  We're all sharing Christmas cookie recipes this month, so be sure to scroll down to the bottom of the post to see the other irresistable Christmas cookie recipes from my fellow blogger friends.

The rugelach recipe uses a classic cream cheese pastry dough, and has a delicious walnut filling, but what makes these cookies absolutely, insanely good is actually the technique, not the recipe.

Parchment paper covered baking sheet covered in freshly baked walnut rugelach, with one turned over to show the browned bottom.

The secret?  The rugelach dough gets rolled out in sugar, not flour.  Not only does this add sweetness to the dough, but the sugar caramelizes as the cookies bake, and it creates this crisp, delicate, candied crust on the bottom of the cookie.  It's absolutely magical.

Ingredients for rugelach dough to make an easy rugelach recipe.

Rugelach Dough Recipe:

  • 2 3/4 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup of butter (2 sticks, or 8 ounces), softened
  • 1 8 ounce package of cream cheese, softened

Rugelach cookie dough in a mixing bowl.

Beat cream cheese and butter until well combined.  Add the salt and sugar and beat again to mix well.

Add the flour and mix just until nicely combined. 

Ingredients for walnut rugelach filling on a white marble surface.

Walnut Rugelach Filling:

  • 8 ounces of walnuts (equal to two cups ground walnuts)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 4 Tablespoons butter (2 ounces), melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Walnuts being ground to make walnut rugelach.

I only buy whole nuts, and grind them myself as needed.  It's a lot less expensive that way, especially if I buy large bags of nuts at Costco.  (You can store them in the freezer to keep them from going rancid.)

To chop the nuts, I always use a little hand-grinder tool.  I don't typically like one-use kitchen gadgets, unless it does the job REALLY well.  This kind of nut grinder really does (and isn't that big, thankfully).  I love that it has measuring marks on the lower chamber, and I love that I can chose a fine or more coarse grind depending on which way I turn the crank.  

Walnut filling for walnut rugelach recipe mixed with a black spatula in a clear bowl.

Heat the milk in the microwave on high for 30 seconds.

Mix all of the filling ingredients together in a bowl to make a thick, spreadable walnut filling.

Dough for easy rugelach recipe rolled out in sugar instead of flour on a countertop.

How to Shape the Rugelach

Traditionally, rugelach is made by rolling circles of dough, cutting the dough into wedge shapes, and rolling those into shapes kind of like very tiny croissants.  That's not the method I use.  I use the shortcut method taught to me by the pastry chef at Vassar College (where I went to school).  Vassar allowed me to use their pastry kitchen to make my gingerbread houses each December, and the pastry chef there taught me a number of tricks I still use today, including this method for making a lot of rugelach in a short amount of time.  The shape isn't exactly the same, but it's close, and it's really easy!

So to make a bunch of rugelach the shortcut way, divide the dough in half.  Sprinkle your work surface liberally with SUGAR, not flour!  Sprinkle the top of the dough with sugar to keep the rolling pin from sticking to the dough, too.  Roll the dough out into a long rectangle.

Walnut filling spread out on rugelach dough to make walnut rugelach.

Spread half of the walnut rugelach filling over the rolled rectangle of dough.

Walnut rugelach dough being rolled.

Cut the dough in half (long way), and roll the dough into two logs.

Easy rugelach being shaped into rugelach cookies.

Cut the rugelach dough logs into segments about one inch wide.

Easy rugelach cookies ready to make on a parchment lined cookie sheet.

Place the walnut rugelach on a parchment lined baking sheet.  (You don't have to use parchment, but trust me, you'll want to after you see what happens next).

Rugelach Recipe Baking Tip:

  • Do not use a fancy insulated baking sheet to bake rugelach cookies!  You want the bottom of the cookie to get nice and hot and browned and crisp.  That's absolutely essential to a great rugelach cookie.  So just use a basic, solid cookie sheet.

Freshly baked walnut rugelach on a parchment baking sheet.

Bake the walnut rugelach for 12-14 minutes.  You only want the tops of the cookies to barely start to turn golden when baking rugelach.  The bottom of the cookie will be golden and crisp, but the rest of the rugelach should be pale.

And yes, some of the filling does spill out while you're baking.  This is why using parchment is so great.  Not only for making clean-up so much easier, but because the filling that runs out actually bakes into the most delicious walnut brickle.

Candied walnut filling left over after baking Walnut Rugelach.

While the cookies are still warm, it's easy to lift them off the parchment paper and leave behind the spilled filling.  So the cookies look pretty, and you're left with this lacy, golden candy crunch.  Which is DELICIOUS.  It's so good, in fact, that I plan on working out exactly how to just make the walnut brickle in the oven someday, because it's one of the best ice cream toppings I've ever tasted.  

Line of walnut rugelach cookies on a slate serving tray, surrounded by walnuts.

You can see the incredible difference in color from the bottom of the rugelach, with its candied bottom, to the pale, tender cookie top portions.

Stack of walnut rugelach cookies on a slate serving tray, surrounded by walnuts.

Give this recipe a try, and let me know if you, too, think that these deserve the name Magical Cookies of Deliciousness!

Printable Walnut Rugelach Recipe:

Want a one page, printable, PDF version of this easy walnut rugelach recipe?  Just click on the image below to print or download the one page recipe.

Navigational image leading reader to printable version of the walnut rugelach recipe.

More Christmas Cookie Recipes from the Taste Creations Blog Hop:

Collage of Christmas cookie recipes from the Taste Creations Blog Hop.

An Italian in my Kitchen: Crunch Christmas Twisted Cookies

Mom Home Guide: Chocolate Cookies with White Chocolate Peppermint Icing

Our Good Life: Strawberry Thumbprint Cookies

Other Christmas Cookie Recipes from Tikkido:

Navigational image leading reader to pecan tassies Christmas cookie recipe.

Navigational image leading reader to figgy pudding Christmas cookie recipe.

Navigational image leading reader to poppy seed rugelach Christmas cookie recipe.

Navigational image leading reader to soft cranberry Christmas cookie recipe.

 

 

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Nicole Wills, creator of Tikkido

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