Note: this recipe was part of a book I wrote called Eat Like A Maisel.
Yield: 16 cookies
How much do I love Herb Smith? Exactly as much as Vern, with every bone in my body.
He’s is one of my favorite cameos. Such confidence, such charisma, and such poor joke-writing skills. Did anyone else want him to tell Midge “never wage a land war in Asia” and “never go against a Sicilian when death is on the line”? I kept waiting for him to laugh hysterically and tip over. That never arrived. But his pickle did! (The pickle’s funny.)
I loved his giant order at the Stage Deli. “A half pastrami on rye, and a half-chopped liver on challah, a stuffed cabbage, some kasha varnishkes, and a bit of arugula.” The first time I watched, I thought his order contained “a bit of rugelach.” When I rewatched it with the captions—after I decided to include this rugelach recipe, and after I wrote, tested, and photographed it—I found out he actually ordered arugula.
Here’s a bit of rugelach for you. I’m sure Herb would’ve appreciated the surprise with his order if the waitress had misheard, too.
4 ounces (114 g) butter, divided
4 ounces (114 g) cream cheese
1 cup (150 g) flour
1⁄4 teaspoon (1 g) kosher salt
1⁄2 cup (100 g) jam of your choice (I love blackberry, raspberry, or a combination of the two.)
1 egg (55 g)
Maldon sea salt, as needed
Turbinado sugar, as needed
Add half the butter to a large mixing bowl. Set aside.
Add the remaining butter to a small skillet over medium heat. You don’t need to stir. It will melt, then bubble, then brown. Watch it closely once it starts smelling nutty. It doesn’t take much time to go from brown to burned. Pour it into the bowl containing the rest of the butter. Use a silicone spatula to scrape all the little brown bits into the bowl.
Add the cream cheese to the bowl and stir to mix the ingredients together. You only need to mix enough so that you don’t splatter the liquid everywhere in the next step. (I found this out the hard way . . .)
Use an electric hand mixer to cream the butter and cream cheese in a large bowl. Add the flour and salt and mix on low until incorporated.
Turn out the dough onto a piece of parchment paper and compress it into a ball. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 24 hours.
Line a large baking sheet (or two smaller baking sheets) with parchment paper. Set aside.
Divide the dough in half. Place one half, flat-side down, onto a piece of parchment paper. Cover with another piece of parchment paper and roll into a disc about 9 inches wide. It’s okay if the sides crack while you’re rolling. Depending on how much of a perfectionist you are, you can pull off the cracked parts and press them into other parts of the dough to make it more disc like.
Spoon half the jam onto the disc. Use a paring knife to slice the discs into 8 equal wedges. Roll each wedge in on itself, starting with the wide end and working inward, and place on the parchment paper–lined baking sheet.
Refrigerate for at least 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 375 ̊F.
Beat the egg in a small bowl. Use a small brush to paint each rugelach with egg. Sprinkle with Maldon sea salt and coarse sugar.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the rugelach are golden brown.