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Saturday, September 01, 2007


The Altitude Adjustment Section
Have you ever noticed that certain foods have a mystical reputation? I think it's often-ethnic foods, comfort foods, or foods from our childhood. A hazy memory, which we elevate to epic proportions, which can never be matched. I’ve got tons of these. Many revolve around cakes and pastries from now defunct Brooklyn bakeries. Then there are the Rugulach. A simple rolled cream cheese pastry classically filled with cinnamon nuts and sugar. Now you can buy these in lots of places but they are always mediocre at best. I hate being disappointed. And then I found Susan Purdy’s recipe, which was one of the few recipes I didn’t test for the book. Susan did. Now I make them all the time and they totally take me back. Susan you are a goddess!

8 ounces full-fat cream cheese
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups A.P. flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup finely chopped walnuts, almonds, or pecans
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

To make dough: In the large bowl of your electric mixer with paddle attachment, combine cream cheese and butter till very smooth. Add flour and salt and mix till just combined. Overmixing will make a tough dough. Turn the dough onto a floured piece of plastic wrap and form into a disc and cover tightly. Refrigerate at least 1 1/2 hours, preferably overnight. While dough chills, make filling by combining nuts, sugar, and cinnamon. You could also try other fillings — try adding mini chocolate chips to the filling, or ground up ginger snaps, or Poppy seeds or raspberry jam when assembling.

To assemble cookies: Take dough out of fridge and cut into quarters. Keep 3 in the fridge while rolling out one. On a lightly floured counter, roll out a circle of dough into a 9 inch round about 1/8 inch thick. Take 1 egg yolk and 2 tablespoons of water and beat with a fork. Now brush circle with egg wash and sprinkle with nut mixture. Take a pizza cutter and cut circle into 16 equal wedges. Roll up from the outside to the inside to make little croissant-shaped cookies and place on parchment-lined cookie sheet. Brush top of each cookie with more egg wash and sprinkle on more nut mix. Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 15-20 minutes, or till golden brown. Because the dough is dense, they take longer than most cookies. I like to add the mini chocolate chips on the inside, or instead of the nut mix on the inside, use jam and cinnamon sugar and nuts on the outside. You can make your reputation on these cookies!