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How to Bake Like a Jewish Grandmother

Tonight I'm baking ruggalach--or cream cheese cookies--for the holiday party held at our boss's house.  He's head of the English Department, and a nice guy.   

I've been asked to bring one of my specialties, the Jewish cookie, ruggalach.   My tried and true recipe never fails to be crowd pleaser.   A note of warning:  Jewish cooking is not known for its heart-healthy properties!

What you'll need:  8 oz. cream cheese, 1 stick butter, 1 stick margarine, 2 cups flour and flour for the board, 1 tsp. baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/3 cup sour cream, 1 egg--separated, fruit preserves, 1tbsp. cinammon, 1/2 cup sugar--if desired, 1/2 cup c hopped walnuts or pecans--if desired.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter, margarine, cream cheese.   Add egg yolk and sour cream.

Sift together flour, salt, and baking powder.  Gradually add flour to the butter mixture until dough forms.  Mix thoroughly. Leave in the fridge for at least three hours, or overnight.

Preheat oven to just over 325 degrees (330).  Take egg white out of fridge and set aside.

On a floured board, roll dough to about 1/4 inch thick and cut into 2 inch squares.

Put a half teaspoon of preserves into the center of each square (and nuts and raisins if desired).  Bring two ends of the diagonal together and press.

Beat the egg white with a half teaspoon of warm water, brush on cookies.  Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.

Place on greased baking sheet until golden brown, about 25 minutes.

Notes:   I have used two eggs and two teaspoons of baking powder.   This creates a less dense cookie, almost a pastry.  It's good but not as traditional as the denser version above.

Work fast once the dough is rolled and cut, or it will get too sticky to handle.   You can then put back in fridge for a few minutes--or add a little more flour to make less sticky.

Use best quality preserves.  

These are great with coffee, and everyone loves them (except my Weight Watcher leader).   Enjoy!

(This recipe is part of my story "Lord of the Ruggalach" in One for Each Night: Chanukah Tales and Recipes.  My mother-in-law, Hilda Gross, who was a dessert caterer in Philadelphia, gave me this recipe!)



10 Comment count
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Please more food blogs!

Dear Marilyn,

I love to read food stories with recipes. Have you read and cooked from Claudia Roden's Book of Jewish Food? She covers the food of the Sephardic Jews as well as the Ashkenazic Jews and gives little vignettes along the way.(Not sure if my adjectives are correct). Joan Nathan is great as well, but I learned how to cook from Claudia Roden's Mediterranean Cookery, so I have a small preference for Roden's books.

Best wishes,

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I'm delighted to learn of your interest, Ruth!

Definitely will do.   I wrote this little book one year when I felt that the family was being too materialistic--so I gave food stories each night and made the foods as part of the gift.  This went over well--the only food my daughter wouldn't eat was the tsimmes!  But I got a story out of that, too--"Chanukah Tales from the Crypt"--about a sweet potato that takes revenge!

Thanks for this good list of books you've sent here.   Happy noshing! 

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I've put this in my favourites!

Thanks Marilyn!

I'm not a good cook so please bear with me with a silly question, when you say 325 degrees, I just want to check, do you mean Celsius?

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tempting even for a non-cook!

I'm not a cook at all, and I'm still considering trying this recipe out! : ) Thanks for sharing it, Marilyn -- and I hope the party was great fun.

By the way, Ryoma, no doubt she means Fahrenheit -- that's the U.S./U.K. difference talking! When I visited Scotland (my most recent couple of trips to the U.K.), I felt like I spent 5 minutes every morning just trying to translate "23 degrees" into a temperature that could conceivably occur in June! : )


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Hi Evie

I'm glad you said that because our oven goes up to 250 degrees celsius so I was worried I wouldn't be able to try this recipe. :)

Gina works in Fahrenheit too so we always have to convert numbers when talking about the weather. Haa!

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Using Celsius, that would be the recipe for roasted ruggalach!

: )

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Sounds like a Dwarfish

Sounds like a Dwarfish weapon from Pratchett's Discworld! I like it! LOL!

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Evie's Right!

You guys are very, very funny, and I look forward to meeting you both in person one day not too far off!  Cheers, Marilyn

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'Well - done!' instead of

'Well - done!' instead of 'Well done.'

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Blackened ruggalach

Blackened works for Cajun but not so good for Yiddish.