sweets

hazelnut and chocolate rugelach

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Yes, this is a great way to blow up any cleansing-type New Year's resolution. BUT, even though this recipe makes about 5 dozens cookies, you break down the dough into 4 disks, making it easy to bake one now and freeze the rest for later.  Another thing to consider is that it is as a really great way to rid yourself of all of that pesky Nutella and cream cheese you have on hand.  (My husband tells me that I am very good at rationalizing all sorts of things)

My grandmother and I spent many an afternoon making this dough, folding it rather than rolling, to form the traditional Polish cookie, kolaczki.  We lived in the same house, an old-school two family, with my grandparents residing "upstairs".  Cooking with my grandmother was always a little bit of a hot mess. She was partially deaf in one ear and mostly in the other so the TV was always blaring, and always tuned into her "stories" as she called them.  We often started our cooking with The Young and the Restless, moved onto Days of Our Lives but would always be done by General Hospital.  The kitchen would be a near disaster, nothing put away, puffs of powdered sugar everywhere, including on her lovingly worn pig-shaped cutting board. (yes, the pig of The Pig and The Fig)

"Downstairs" my mother, who worked (hard) full-time,  had zero tolerance for baking and the inevitable, how ever temporary, chaos that came with it.  My mom is a solid cook and things were very tidy, organized and efficiently run in our house.  If you used a bowl and stepped away, faster than you could turn around, it would be cleaned, dried and put back exactly where it came from.

I'd say my cooking style today is somewhere in between, with a heavy lean towards grandma.  No matter.  Delicious is the goal and these cookies are.  The lush, flaky dough combined with little bits of hazelnuts and a blast of chocolate equate to near perfection in my book.  I was inspired to fill the rugelach with homemade nutella rather than the more traditional nuts and jam mostly because I had a huge batch on hand.

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I hope you'll forgive me for my little nostalgic tangent.  Making these, obviously, got me thinking about some early cooking memories.  Which, in turn, got me thinking about starting my blog.  Somehow in the madness of prepping for, enjoying and cleaning up the holidays,  I forgot to celebrate The Pig and The Fig's one year birthday.  So I will today.  14 months to the day of my first post of roasted chicken.  Happy (blog) Birthday to me.  And huge thanks to you for all of your love and support.

hazelnut and chocolate rugelach

for the dough:

2 c flour 1/2 t salt 8 oz cream cheese, cubed 1 c unsalted butter, cubed 1 t vanilla 1 egg yolk confectioners sugar

for the filling:

about 4 cups of chocolate and hazelnut spread or nutella*

* if you use Nutella, you may want to add some toasted finely chopped hazelnuts for a bit of texture

In the bowl of a food processor, pulse together the flour, salt, cream cheese and butter until it forms a sort of wet sand.

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 Whisk together the egg yolk and vanilla and add it to the bowl of the food processor.  Pulse the dough until it all comes together.

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Pour the dough onto large, clean, cool surface.gently squeeze it together and then separate it into 4 even balls.

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Flatten them and wrap in plastic.

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Refrigerate the dough (or freeze up to three months what you are not using) for at least two hours.

When you are ready to bake, pre-heat the oven to 375º

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Dust your counter again with confectioners sugar.  Unwrap one disk and gently roll it out from the middle to form something close to a circle about 1/8" thick.

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Depending on your rolling skill, you may have to "trim" your dough into a more circular shape.

Warm the chocolate and hazelnut spread until it is liquified but cooled slightly.  Spread it across the entire surface of the dough, all the way to the edges.

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Using a pizza cutter or a knife, cut the dough (like a pizza) into 16 equal pieces.  Starting at the wider end, roll each section into a crescent shape.  Arrange on a cookie sheet lined with parchment or a silpat.

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Bake for about 20 minutes and allow to cool on the baking sheet before you attempt to move them to a wire rack.