If you love cookies (and let's face it, who on this planet does not?!!) then this is an ultra-special Famous Fridays for you, because today we celebrate Cookie Love: More Than 60 Recipes and Techniques for Turning the Ordinary into the Extraordinary by Mindy Segal with these off-the-charts fantastic Cinnamon Brickle Rugelach!! Seriously, these are mind-blowing!!
In addition to being an award-winning pastry chef, Mindy Segal is the owner of the wildly popular Chicago restaurant, HotChocolate, which I will definitely be checking out the next time I get to the Windy City! But in the meantime, I'll have to be content with the incredible offerings in Cookie Love. And that shouldn't be too hard to do! The book is chock full of classic recipes that have been turned a little bit upside down, like these odd looking but incredibly hip and mod toffee-encrusted rugelach.
Rugelach, if you're not familiar with them, are an old-fashioned Jewish pastry, traditionally made with a cream cheese or sour cream dough and a filling of nuts, cinnamon, poppy seeds, jam or chocolate. I love rugelach and have already shared these wonderful Raspberry Chocolate Ruglelach, but if you're looking to reinvent the rugelach experience, you've got to try Mindy's version. Instead of chopped nuts, these are filled with a divine and addictive homemade butter brickle as well as homemade caramel sauce. As they cook, the brickle and caramel are supposed to run out of the cookies and harden so that each cookie not only is filled with caramel and brickle, but has a little caramelized brickle circle surrounding it too!
The rugelach are not difficult to make, but they do require you to make them in several stages, which I actually liked because no one step was particularly overwhelming or time consuming and the end result was just stellar! You start by making a classic cream cheese dough that you can prepare up to a week in advance. After you've mixed all the ingredients together, you form the dough into two rectangles and chill. The whole thing takes about 15 minutes.
Next you make the brickle which is nothing more than mixed nuts, coated in a butter/sugar/cinnamon mixture and allowed to harden into a sort of brittle, which you ultimately pulverize in the food processor. You can make the brittle up to a month in advance, though I wouldn't recommend it--not because it'll spoil, but because you'll wind up eating it all and have none left for the cookies! It's irresistible as is or sprinkled over yogurt or ice cream!!
The final pre-production step of this masterpiece is the caramel sauce, which is not difficult to make either, but as always, when making caramel, you've got to give it your undivided attention, bacause caramel can go from perfect to burned in the blink of an eye!! Even this you can make months before you need it and having a jar of caramel sauce in the fridge means you're never far away from an easy dessert (think dipping apples or pouring over ice cream, etc.) Plus this may be the best caramel sauce I've ever made!! It's sweet but not overly so, with a subtle smokiness to it. Yum!!
Making the actual cookies requires a sharp knife, a ruler and a sponge to mop up all the sticky bits! Once you've rolled the dough out to the proper dimensions, you coat it in a rather thick layer of the caramel.
On top of that, you sprinkle a generous amount of the brickle, pausing to grab a handful or two of the stuff for your mouth as well!
Now it's time for the craftsmanship. You cut each piece of dough in half lengthwise and then cut each half into triangles, eventually rolling them up into little crescents and transferring to baking sheets.
Then, because they're not incredible enough already, you brush the tops with egg whites, sprinkle on a cinnamon sugar mixture and spoon on some more of the brickle.
When you first pull the baking sheet out of the oven, your heart might sink because it looks like all of the filling has leaked out of the cookies and burned, but never fear--it's supposed to be this way, so that when you bite into these golden brown, flaky pastries, flavored with cinnamon and caramel, you also get a generous amount of crunchy brittle with every mouthful! It's impossible to eat these neatly, but that's also what makes them so much fun!
If you're looking for a holiday present for someone who likes to bake, you can't go wrong with Cookie Love! In fact, the only downside of having this terrific book is that you can't stay home and bake cookies every day! But hey, maybe that's a good thing too! Have a great weekend everyone, eat something delicious with someone you love and I'll be back on Monday with more great stuff and Thanksgiving ideas!
Cookie Love's Cinnamon Brickle Rugelach-Famous Fridays
Makes 44-48 cookies
Prep Time for Dough: 15 minutes (plus at least 2 hours of chilling time and up to 1 week); Prep Time for Brickle: 15 minutes (plus time for the brickle to harden and be chopped up in food processor); Prep Time for Caramel Sauce: 20 minutes; Assembly Time: 45 minutes; Bake Time: 23-35 minutes
For the Cream Cheese Dough
- 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
- 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
Fop the Brickle
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- 8 ounces (1 3/4 cup) mixed, roasted, salted nuts (try to find without peanuts)
- Pinch of cinnamon
For the Caramel Sauce
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 1/2 cup sugar, divided
- 3/8 cup light corn syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the Cookies
- 1 recipe Cream Cheese Dough, divided in half and chilled
- 2 cups Brickle
- 1 1/4 cups Caramel Sauce
- 1 large egg-white, lightly beaten
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
1. To make the Cream Cheese Dough: Place the butter in the large bowl of an electric mixer and beat at medium speed for 10-15 seconds. Add the cream cheese and beat on medium again for 10-15 seconds. Add the sugar and beat on medium for about 3 minutes, until the mixture is very well combined. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add the vanilla on medium speed and mix briefly. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl again.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and the salts. Add the mixture all at one time to the cream cheese mixture and mix on low speed for about 30 seconds until the dough comes together but is still sort of crumbly. You don't want to overmix. Use a spatula to bring all the dough together.
3. Rip off two lengths of plastic wrap and place them on the counter. Divide the dough in half and place each half on the plastic wrap. Using your hands, form the dough into two rectangles, wrap them tightly and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to one week.
4. To make the Brickle: Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat and spray lightly with vegetable cooking spray. Set aside.
5. Place the butter in a heavy, 3-quart saucepan over medium heat and melt the butter. Stir in the sugar until it looks like wet sand and then stir in the nuts and cinnamon. Keep stirring until the sugar melts and coats the nuts, about 4 minutes. Then remove from the heat, stir a few more times and turn the mixture out onto the prepared baking sheet. Let the mixture cool to room temperature and harden. Then coarsely chop the brickle, place the chunks into a food processor and pulse it, until the brickle becomes a coarse meal. You'll have a about 3 cups, which will definitely leave you with leftovers which taste great over ice cream or yogurt. Store at room temperature in an airtight container or glass jar for up to 1 month.
6. To make the Caramel Sauce: Place the cream in a small, high-sided pot and place it over a very low light, just to warm it. Into a 3-quart heavy saucepan, combine 3/4 cup of the sugar and the corn syrup. Turn the heat to medium-high and stir the mixture every now and then with a wooden spoon, until it comes to a boil. Continue to cook, no longer stirring, until the mixture turns a rich amber color, but not black. This should take anywhere from 6-8 minutes. Now lower the heat to very low and in three additions, add in the remaining sugar, stirring to dissolve the sugar well between each addition. Once all of the sugar is added, turn the heat up until small bubble start to appear at the sides of the pot. In 3 stages, add the warmed cream, allowing it to simmer and partially reduce between each addition. Careful, because the caramel will bubble up between each addition. Stir it to keep it from boiling over. Keep cooking until the caramel is thick and coats the back of the spoon. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla and salt. Let cool completely and store in a jar in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.
7. To make the Cookies: Place a sheet of parchment paper larger than the rectangle of dough on your work surface and dust it lightly with flour. Remove one dough half from the refrigerator, unwrap it and place it on top of the paper. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough into a large thin rectangle, about 1/4 inch thick and around 13x18. To keep the dough from sticking, periodically, dust the top of the dough very lightly with flour and place another piece of parchment on top and flip the dough over and remove the bottom piece of parchment. Repeat the process with the other dough half. Then stack the two pieces of dough chill for about 30 minutes. If you've chilled the caramel sauce, place the jar or container in a small pot of hot water to make it easy to spread.
8. Preheat oven to 350ºF and line a few rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper and spray the parchment with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
9. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and carefully peel off the parchment paper, placing the dough on the work surface. Spread half the caramel sauce evenly on one piece of the dough and half on the other. Then sprinkle about 1/2 cup of the brickle over the surface of each piece of dough. Trim the edges with a pizza wheel or sharp knife so that they're even. Next, cut the dough in half lengthwise into 2 long strips per half which means you'll have 4 strips in total. Working with one strip at a time, cut out 11-12 triangles per strip, working on the diagonal, with each base measuring about 1 1/2-1 3/4 inches and each tip about 1/2 inch wide.
10. Using a spatula to help separate one triangle from the rest of the others, start rolling it up from the base to the tip, into a loose crescent. Place the tip-side up on the prepared baking sheets and repeat the process with the remaining triangles. Space the cookies about 2 inches apart because the caramel needs room to spread.
11. Brush the tops with the egg white. In a small bowl, mix together the sugar and cinnamon and spoon it generously onto the cookies. Then scatter the remaining 1 cup brickle all over the cookies on the separate sheets.
12. Bake only one sheet at a time for 15 minutes. Then rotate the pan and bake for another 6-8 minutes or until the tops of the cookies are golden brown and the caramel has seeped out and formed circles around the cookies. Transfer the tray to a cooling rack to cool completely and repeat with remaining sheets. When cookies are completely cool, cut though hardened caramel with a sharp knife, so that rugelach are surrounded by a ring of caramelized brittle. These are best on the day they're made but pretty great for 2-3 days afterwards too. Any longer than that and I found that the brittle started to become soggy. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.
Note: Recipe adapted from Cookie Love by Mindy Segal.