In high school, I fancied myself to be a teen prodigy (see also: misunderstood genius, centre of the universe, eldest child complex), so I was always leaving my projects up until the last possible second, racing through them, and miraculously still getting excellent grades. One of my teachers had caught on, though, and warned me that I was going to have to learn how to pace and schedule my work, or I would suffer when I got to university.
Then university came around, and I was still scribbling away in a hypercaffeinated madwoman state at 2, then 4, then 6 in the morning of my deadline. I’d hand in my papers at the beginning of class and then proceed to sleep through the entire lesson. Once, I even visited a professor to “hash out some thesis ideas” the day before a major paper was due, and watched him grow slightly pale.
And still I was pulling it off! It was somewhat appalling, to be honest.
Now, however — as a freelancer who sets her own deadlines — the joke is at last on me. Although I’m great at sticking to external deadlines, I seem to struggle endlessly with self-imposed ones, and will procrastinate sometimes for weeks before I finally force myself to write something down.
Case in point: these apricot rosemary rugelach. I made (and photographed) them well over a month ago, but every time I began to write the actual post down, I’d somehow find something particularly fascinating on Facebook that required my immediate attention. Or Pinterest. Or an entire Bukowski novel (feel free to skip reading Women, by the way). My fingernails became suddenly very interesting to me. Christ, I even went to the gym instead of writing this!
So forgive this cop-out of a post about how difficult it sometimes is to write posts, please, because it was all in the service of delivering you these rugelach. If you’ve never had rugelach before, you’re in for a real treat. They’re basically little bite-sized cookies that taste like the best, flakiest pie dough you’ve ever consumed, plus any delicious filling your heart desires.
I’m inordinately fond of using fragrant, earthy rosemary in dessertrecipes. It adds a depth to the sweetness, particularly of apricot, that I really love. I’d planned to top these off with chopped pistachio originally, but didn’t have any on hand, and used the sesame seeds in a pinch. I really quite liked them, but if you have pistachio around, I still think that would make a great pairing too. Other fantastic combinations I’ve seen floating around the web include sour cherry jam and chopped pecans, orange marmalade and dark chocolate, or straight up cinnamon sugar.
I brought these to share at a dinner party, and they were demolished. I don’t think I’ve ever received more compliments on a dessert! Hope you love them as much as I do.
A classic cookie that's as crisp and buttery as pie crust, but filled with sweet-savoury jam and scattered with toasted sesame. Adapted from Smitten Kitchen.
For the dough:
2 cups (260g) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon fine sea or table salt
1 cup (225g) unsalted butter
1 package (225g) cream cheese
For the filling:
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp ginger (dried, not fresh)
1 Tbs clarified butter
1.5 Tbs fresh rosemary, minced
3/4 cup apricot jam
juice of half a lemon
For the finish:
1 egg, beaten with a tablespoon of water or milk
2 Tbs mixed black and white sesame seeds (or finely chopped pistachio)
For the dough:
Place flour and salt in a food processor and pulse to combine. Add cream cheese, chopped into large chunks, and run machine until it’s fully dispersed into the flour. Add butter in large chunks and run machine until dough starts to clump. Set aside a large piece of cling wrap, and dump the dough onto this; pat into a large disk, and wrap up completely.
Chill dough until totally firm — about 2 hours in the fridge, although you can hasten this along in the freezer for about 30 minutes. (Dough will keep in fridge for up to a week, if you don't want to make these right away.)
Heat oven to 350F and line a couple baking sheets with parchment paper.
For the filling:
While the dough is chilling, in a small bowl, mix the sugar and the ginger, and set aside. In a small saucepan, heat the clarified butter on medium-high until melted. Add the chopped rosemary and simmer for 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the apricot jam. Add the lemon juice, and (if desired), add a little more, to taste.
Divide dough into four pieces and roll first quarter out on a floured counter into a rectangle about 12 inches wide and 8 inches long, with the wider side to you. Thinly spread the apricot filling ((about 2 to 3 tablespoons) to all but the furthest 1/4 inch from you, which seals better once rolled if bare. Sprinkle with roughly a quarter of the sugar-ginger mixture.
Roll dough from the 12-inch side in front of you into as tight as a log as you can, using your fingers to lightly seal the ends onto the log. Repeat with remaining logs.
Place log of filled dough in freezer for 10 to 15 minutes, as the rugelach will cut more cleanly once semi-firm. Trim ends from log so they have a clean shape, and slice the log into 10 to 12 even slices. Arrange on prepared baking sheets a couple inches apart from each other.
Brush tops lightly with egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown on top. Individual cookies need to cool only a few minutes on baking sheet before they can be transferred to a cooling rack, and the sooner you get them off the parchment, the easier it is to separate them from the leaked sugar filling that will have pooled on the baking sheet.
Best the day they're made, but will keep for 2-3 days in a sealed container at room temperature.