Cocoa Nib and Currant Rugelach
My mother’s side of the family is Hungarian. Her parents were born in a small town in Hungary, and their paths took them from there to Auschwitz, from Auschwitz back to Hungary (with a few countries in between), from Hungary to Italy (briefly), from Italy to Israel (where they helped found a moshav), and finally from Israel to Brooklyn, NY, where my grandmother still lives today, just a few blocks away from me.
I do not make traditional Hungarian rugelach. For one thing, there aren’t any nuts in mine. Heretic that I am, I think these are much tastier than the kind my grandmother is used to eating. The cocoa nibs scan as much more chocolatey in these than they do in my cocoa nib ice cream, and their crunch works well with the juiciness of the currants.
This is another recipe from Bittersweet: Recipes and Tales from a Life in Chocolate by Alice Medrich, which is quickly becoming one of my favorite cookbooks.
Cocoa Nib and Currant Rugelach
For the pastry
2 1/2 C all-purpose flour
2 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 lb. (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter (cut into pieces)
One 8 oz. package cream cheese (chilled and cut into pieces)
For the filling
2 tbsp granulated sugar
1/2 C packed dark brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 C roasted cocoa nibs
1/2 C dried currants (soaked briefly in boiling water, and then drained and patted dry)
Make the pastry in advance, as usual. Combine the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse a few times to mix. Add the butter and pulse until the butter pieces are about the size of bread crumbs. Add the cream cheese and process until the dough begins to clump together, about 30 seconds. (I sometimes cheat and just make this in my Kitchenaid mixer. Doesn’t seem to do any harm.)
Turn the dough out onto a work surface and slam it to get out the air bubbles (as if you were working with clay), then divide it into 4 pieces. Press each piece into a flat patty about 4″ in diameter, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate until firm, about 4 hours. You can leave it in the fridge overnight if you like.
When you’re ready to make the cookies, position the racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
For the filling, mix the sugars, cinnamon, nibs, and currants together in a medium bowl.
Remove one patty of dough from the refrigerator at a time, and deal with each as follows: Roll it out between two pieces of wax paper into a 12″ diameter circle that’s about 1/8″ thick (err on the side of too thin, if need be). I find that it helps to peel the dough off the wax paper and flip it over from time to time when rolling it out. When it’s ready, peel off the top sheet of wax paper and place the paper on a counter or cutting board. Flip the dough onto the paper and peel off the second sheet. Sprinkle a quarter of the filling over the dough. Place a fresh, non-sticky piece of wax paper over it, and gently roll over the filling with a rolling pin to press it into the dough. Remove the top layer of wax paper.
Cut the dough into 12 equal wedges like a pie. Roll up each wedge, starting at the wide end and working towards the narrow point, and place them on the cookie sheets with the point underneath to keep it from unrolling. They don’t need to be too far apart, as they won’t expand much. Just a bit of breathing room between them will suffice.
Bake, rotating the sheets from top to bottom and front to back halfway through the baking time, for about 25 minutes, or until light golden brown at the edges. Cool on wire racks.