Monday, December 6, 2010

ABC - Maple-Pecan Medjool Date Rugelach

This month's Avid Baker's Challenge is the Eastern European pastry called Rugelach; Maple-Pecan Almond Medjool Date Rugelach to be exact. I've been intrigued by this pastry for a long time. I've never eaten it or baked it, but when I saw the recipe in Flo Braker's book, Baking for all Occasions, I knew I had to make it. This pastry consists of a lightly sweetened cream cheese/butter pastry dough, subtly accented with citrus zest, wrapped around a brown sugar/nut/Medjool date filling. I happen to love dates, especially Medjool dates, so this recipe was like music to my ears.

Coming up are some step-by-step pictures that I'd like to share with you. I hope these pictures inspire you to head into your own kitchen and bake lots of Rugelach :o)

I made half a recipe which yielded 4 dozen pastries. The pastry dough is scented with citrus zest. I chose orange zest instead of lemon zest and although I cut the recipe in half, I kept the amount of zest the same. Yum! Making the dough couldn't be easier; it's made in the food processor, divided into 4 equal pieces (for me, that's 90 grams each) and then refrigerated.

Plump and sweet Medjool dates - almost 2.5" long

Medjool dates are the Cadillac of dates (in my opinion anyway). They're big, meaty, sweet, soft and chewy. For this recipe, the Medjool dates are pitted and quartered and set this aside until it's time to fill the Rugelach.

Filling mis-en-place
Each piece of dough is rolled out to an 8" circle. A thin film of maple syrup is applied to the dough to acts as glue for the brown sugar/cinnamon/nut filling. This filling is gently pressed into the dough and then the dough is cut into 12 wedges. I was so fixated on the number "8" while rolling out my first dough piece, that I cut it into 8 wedges, instead of 12. I realized my mistake when I was almost done with that circle and I still had date quarters left, ha ha. To get nice fluted edges, I used a fluted pastry wheel to cut the dough.

Step-by-step pictures for filling the Rugelach (I really need to grow a third hand so I can hold the camera and roll Rugelach at the same time):

I was able to fit 20 pastries onto my large cookie sheet. Into a 325 F (convection) oven they went  for about 17 minutes.

These pastries turn golden brown around the edges and remain fairly pale in the middle. While still warm, their top is dipped into a maple glaze and then into finely chopped nuts for decoration.

Isn't that pretty?

These pastries are at their absolute best about 15 minutes after they come out of the oven while still slightly warm. Mmmm!

Bon Appetit!
Final thoughts/tips:
  • Hubby enjoyed these a lot! He said "the pastry is flaky and soft, and the filling is good; nice and soft", and gave it a rating of 9 out of 10.
  • I was very excited about this recipe and as always, Flo did not disappoint. The pastry is flaky and tender, and the filling has the right sweetness and the perfect soft-to-crunchy ratio. The dates are definitely front and center which I liked. The toasted almonds also gave the pastry a lot of flavor, as did the orange zest. I also enjoyed the nut topping.
  • Substitutions: I substituted orange zest for the lemon zest. And although I made only half the recipe, I used the full amount of zest. Instead of pecans, I used toasted almonds.
  • I took some of these to work today and everybody loved them: "these are really good", "I like those thingies that look like little croissants", "I didn't think I was going to like it but I loved it" :o)
  • Don't forget to check out the ABC blog roll.


  1. I totally agree that this is a winner! Your dates look a bit more meaty than mine I will have to shop around more. Lovely photos too. Thanks for letting me bake along.

  2. I tried rugelach for the first time last year and loved them! Your version sounds so delicious (well, minus the nuts, I'm not a fan) - hopefully I can find time to try them this holiday season!

  3. I am still baking these cute little cookies but I will be late doing so. I love yours and feel reassured that you loved them too.

  4. Hanaa, congrats on winning at the State Fair!

    The rugelach looks good btw, and yes I agree the chocolate cake has potential and it's probably fabulous, gotta try a different cocoa powder!

  5. Boink! Of course... I could have sliced my dates the other way round... Much prettier that way and more date flavour in every bite.
    Nice step by step pics Hanaâ!

  6. What lovely little cookies. I'm not a big fan of dates, but I wonder if raisins or figs would work instead. (Or maybe I just haven't tried Medjool dates.)

  7. I bought all the ingredients to make these and am looking forward to it a little bit more after reading your experience making them. They sound so delicious.

  8. Thanks for visiting my blog. The rugelach looks yummy.

  9. Your rugelach looks gorgeous, and your step-by-step photos are excellent.

    I saw your comment on my blog: I did get a chance to make it but the day the posting was "due" I wasn't able to post. We loved it, though! Josh had friends over the night I made my first batch (about 20) and the next morning I found just one left in the container - definitely a huge hit.

  10. Hanaa, these are wonderful holiday cookies! I do share your love to Medjool dates.
    Happy New Year to you and your family! And thank you very much for your warm wishes and kind words!


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