Rugelach have deep roots in Jewish households, and they are the most celebrated little pastry of my childhood," says Goldsmith. "I believe they have the power to bring people and families together. Ask any bubbe (a Jewish grandmother) and she will tell you that her "ruggies" are the best — and you better believe her! Never contradict a bubbe, but do give my recipe a try. Though unusual, my mix of candied ginger and blackberry jam is really a treat.
I recommend Australian crystallized ginger, as it is the finest in the world. Made with new baby ginger roots, it is tender, moist, and very flavorful.
To make the dough, using an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and cream cheese on medium speed for about 2 minutes, until soft and smooth. Add the sugar, lemon zest, vanilla, and salt and beat on medium-high speed for about 2 minutes, until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the flour and beat on low speed until the dough just comes together.
Scrape the dough onto a work surface and divide it in 1/2. Shape each 1/2into a flat disc and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for about 1 hour, or until firm enough to roll out.
To make the filling, combine the almonds, sugar, cinnamon, and ground ginger in a food processor. Pulse until the nuts are roughly chopped. Add the crystallized ginger and pulse until finely ground.
Position a rack in the center of the oven, and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or nonstick liners.
In a small bowl, combine the egg and milk and mix with a fork until blended. Set aside this egg wash to put on the rugelach just before baking. In a separate small bowl, combine the sugar and cinnamon and mix until blended.
Put a large piece of parchment paper on a work surface. Working with 1 disc at a time, put the dough on the center of the paper and top the dough with another sheet of parchment paper. Roll the dough into a 12-inch circle, stopping occasionally to peel away the paper, dust the dough lightly with flour, and reposition the paper so that you don’t get any wrinkles.
Using a small offset spatula, spread 1/2 of the jam evenly over the dough, leaving a ½-inch border around the edge. Scatter 1/2 of the nut mixture evenly over the jam. Using your hands, press firmly on the nuts so that they stick. Using a chef’s knife or a pizza wheel, cut the circle into 16 triangles.
Beginning with the wide end, roll up each triangle. They will look like mini croissants. Arrange the cookies, center tips tucked underneath, about 1 inch apart on one of the prepared baking sheets. Lightly brush the tops of the rugelach with the egg wash and sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar.
Bake for 35-38 minutes, until browned. Transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack, and let the cookies cool completely. While the first batch is baking, repeat the process with the remaining dough. The baked and cooled ruggies can be covered and stored at room temperature for up to 3 days.