Cookies With a Twist

Chocolate and hazelnuts make for a sweet and salty filling for rugelach, a cookie traditionally enjoyed during Jewish holidays.



 

One of the things that used to drive my father crazy was that Mom was never satisfied to make the same thing twice in exactly the same way. Like a good jazz musician, she would improvise based on the time of year, availability of ingredients or sheer whimsy.

For restaurant chefs, the curse of success is that they must duplicate their signature dishes to look and taste exactly the same time after time. And so the creative spirit that guided them in the first place must take a back seat to the desires of their diners for repetitive perfection.

Of course, there is room for both in most kitchens. It's comforting to turn out family favorites time after time so that food traditions build up over the years. But as a cook, it's fun to experiment and nudge recipes in different directions to see just where they might go.

One of the cookies I like to experiment with during this season is the rugelach, a traditional Jewish dessert that originated in Eastern Europe and translates to "little twist" in Yiddish. The treat comprises flaky dough wrapped around a filling that can be made of fruit or nuts. Those who follow a kosher diet make rugelach without dairy so that the cookies can be served after a meal that includes meat. But I have to admit that my favorite recipe uses cookie dough enriched with butter and cream cheese. The simple combination of butter, cream cheese and flour is transformed in the oven to a light and flaky cookie that melts in the mouth.

Now, here's where the creativity comes in. You can fill this simple dough with just about anything you'd like. Jams, jellies, preserves, nuts of all kinds, cinnamon and sugar or even the classic combination of peanut butter and jelly. Try my recipe for rugelach filled with hazelnuts and chocolate.

See below for my recipe for zucchini latkes, a delicious variation on another holiday favorite.

Rugelach
Makes 4-dozen cookies
 

Ingredients:

Dough:
2 sticks butter or margarine (softened)
One 8-ounce package of cream cheese (softened)
1/4 cup sugar
2 cups flour

Filling:
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup grated dark chocolate
1/2 cup toasted, chopped hazelnuts
1/2 cup melted butter

Topping:
1 beaten egg
1/4 cup sugar

Instructions:
Cream butter and cream cheese. Add sugar and mix. Add flour and form into two balls. Refrigerate at least 4 hours.

For the filling, mix together the sugar, grated chocolate and hazelnuts. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and divide each ball into 4 smaller balls. Roll each ball out onto a floured surface to about a 10-inch-diameter circle. Brush with the melted butter and sprinkle each with 1/4 cup of the chocolate/nut mixture.

Cut the circle into 6 pie-shaped pieces. Starting at the wide end, roll each up, tucking in the sides slightly as you go. Do the same with the other pieces and repeat with the three other balls.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the rolled tarts onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Brush with beaten egg and sprinkle with sugar. Bake about 15 minutes until golden-brown.

Zucchini Latkes
Makes 10 2-inch pancakes
 

Ingredients:

1 pound zucchini
1 medium yellow onion
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 egg
2 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 to 3/4 cup vegetable oil, for frying
4 ounces sour cream to serve

Instructions:
Wash the zucchini and shred in the food processor or on a box grater. Shred the onion into the same bowl. Sprinkle with the teaspoon of kosher salt and allow to sit for 10 minutes. Use a strainer or ricer to extract as much liquid as possible. Return to the bowl and add the egg, flour, dill and black pepper. Mix well.

In a large frying pan, heat 1/8 inch of oil over medium-high heat. Line a clean plate with paper towels. Using about 1/4 cup of the mixture, form a small patty and place into the hot oil. Use a spatula to gently press down the pancake to compact and flatten it.

Fill the pan with pancakes, leaving enough room among them so they will fry without touching. Cook until the underside is very nicely browned, about 5 minutes. Do not cook too quickly or the insides will be raw. Lower the heat if the edges begin to burn.

Carefully flip the pancakes with a spatula without breaking them. Press them down gently again and fry for another 4 minutes or so until brown. Remove to the paper towels to drain. Serve immediately, topped with sour cream.



 

Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Top Ten Things to Do in Pittsburgh in July

Top Ten Things to Do in Pittsburgh in July

The month's best bets in The 'Burgh.
Best of the 'Burgh 2016

Best of the 'Burgh 2016

We scoured the region to bring you 53 items we’ve deemed this year’s “Best of the ’Burgh,” as well as 8 stellar local Instagram accounts you don’t want to miss.
See Yinz: PittGirl Says Goodbye

See Yinz: PittGirl Says Goodbye

After writing for seven years about the city for Pittsburgh Magazine and pittsburghmagazine.com, Virginia Montanez is discontinuing her blog and column.
Restaurant Review: Whitfield at Ace Hotel Pittsburgh

Restaurant Review: Whitfield at Ace Hotel Pittsburgh

The restaurant at Ace Hotel in East Liberty hits some high notes as it finds itself.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The 412

Brace Yourself Pittsburgh, It’s a Furry Frenzy!

Brace Yourself Pittsburgh, It’s a Furry Frenzy!

Where else but Pittsburgh would Anthrocon celebrate its 20th anniversary.
Pittsburgh-Area Fireworks 2016: When & Where to Watch Them

Pittsburgh-Area Fireworks 2016: When & Where to Watch Them

You can get your fill of fireworks all weekend long, if you know where and when to look.
Next Steps Taken in Restoration of Allegheny Landing

Next Steps Taken in Restoration of Allegheny Landing

Officials broke ground Thursday for the reconstruction of the sculpture park’s portion of the Three Rivers Heritage Trail.
Meet The Thunderbirds, Pittsburgh’s Professional Frisbee Team

Meet The Thunderbirds, Pittsburgh’s Professional Frisbee Team

Part of The American Ultimate Disc League, the Thunderbirds' players have a passion for the game — and the fans to prove it.

Sign Up for the 412 e-Newsletter

 

Our new, daily e-newsletter is curated by the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine and is designed to give you the very best Pittsburgh has to offer -- delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign me up!
* Email
 First Name
 Last Name
  * = Required Field
 
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Top Ten Things to Do in Pittsburgh in July

Top Ten Things to Do in Pittsburgh in July

The month's best bets in The 'Burgh.
Best of the 'Burgh 2016

Best of the 'Burgh 2016

We scoured the region to bring you 53 items we’ve deemed this year’s “Best of the ’Burgh,” as well as 8 stellar local Instagram accounts you don’t want to miss.
See Yinz: PittGirl Says Goodbye

See Yinz: PittGirl Says Goodbye

After writing for seven years about the city for Pittsburgh Magazine and pittsburghmagazine.com, Virginia Montanez is discontinuing her blog and column.
Restaurant Review: Whitfield at Ace Hotel Pittsburgh

Restaurant Review: Whitfield at Ace Hotel Pittsburgh

The restaurant at Ace Hotel in East Liberty hits some high notes as it finds itself.
Pride of McKeesport: WNBA Star Swin Cash

Pride of McKeesport: WNBA Star Swin Cash

During her final season of professional basketball, Cash remains ferocious on the court and selfless everywhere else.
Idol Find: Pittsburgh Rapper Teams Up with Dad Jimmy McNichol for New Show

Idol Find: Pittsburgh Rapper Teams Up with Dad Jimmy McNichol for New Show

Research led Kellee Maize to discover she is the daughter of the former teen singing sensation. Now she and McNichol are teaming up to develop a television series to help other parents and children find each other.
Edit Module

Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


Brace Yourself Pittsburgh, It’s a Furry Frenzy!

Brace Yourself Pittsburgh, It’s a Furry Frenzy!

Where else but Pittsburgh would Anthrocon celebrate its 20th anniversary.

Comments


Pittsburgh, only cooler
PittGirl: How You Should Grade A Squishy Tongue

PittGirl: How You Should Grade A Squishy Tongue

Kennywood Park opens soon and new this season is the return of the famed whale at the entrance of Noah’s Ark. In the name of science, PittGirl paid an early visit to test the squishiness quotient of the whale's all-important tongue.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
Root and Heart Farm: Winning Friends With Salad

Root and Heart Farm: Winning Friends With Salad

Jen Urich's Gibsonia farm is mixing it up in just the right way.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
The Best 7 Spots in Pittsburgh to Watch the 2016 Euro Cup

The Best 7 Spots in Pittsburgh to Watch the 2016 Euro Cup

Grab your kits, scarfs and get ready to watch the Euro 2016 Pittsburgh-style. We'll show you where to go to get your fan on.

Comments


You Will Need to Use Your IQ to Make This Escape

You Will Need to Use Your IQ to Make This Escape

Perhaps the most impressive aspects of IQ Escape in Ross Township are the stagecraft and setting. The rooms are elegant, convincing and immersive.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Bucs' Biggest Problem Easier to Identify than Solve

Bucs' Biggest Problem Easier to Identify than Solve

As the Pirates try to climb out of a demoralizing slump, one factor has emerged as the team's biggest shortcoming.

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
No Passport Required for Handmade Spanish Jewelry at Roberta Weissburg Leathers

No Passport Required for Handmade Spanish Jewelry at Roberta Weissburg Leathers

Uno de 50 is a jewelry brand utilizing high-end silver, leather and Swarovski crystals.

Comments


Sean Collier's Popcorn for Dinner

The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
The New Tarzan Should've Been Purged

The New Tarzan Should've Been Purged

Reviews of "The Legend of Tarzan," "The Purge: Election Year" and "Swiss Army Man," plus local movie news and notes.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
Noah’s Ark Nuptials: One Couple’s Kennywood Wedding

Noah’s Ark Nuptials: One Couple’s Kennywood Wedding

The restoration of the iconic Noah’s Ark whale entrance came just in time to be the backdrop for this Pittsburgh couple’s wedding.

Comments


The latest tips and trends to refresh your home.
Purple Reign: PPG Paints Unveils 2017 Color of the Year

Purple Reign: PPG Paints Unveils 2017 Color of the Year

Violet Verbena’s grey-purple tones are playful, elegant and calming. Plus, get the history behind some of Pittsburgh's architectural wonders.

Comments


The hottest topics in higher education
Pittsburgh Technical Institute Changes Its Name

Pittsburgh Technical Institute Changes Its Name

The school’s name change is reflective of its growth and evolution through the years.

Comments