"Coming from Eastern Europe, where most of the beloved Jewish pastries originated, I always enjoyed rugelach and similar cookies. My mother’s best friend was Hungarian, and she use to make delicious rugelach cookies at Christmastime. She would make two different doughs, one plain and one chocolate-flavored, and she would swirl it together in beautiful roll stuffed with prune jam. I loved going to their home during holidays just for this dessert.
"When I came to America, I learned about cream cheese and how some Americans add it into rugelach dough. It is such a great way to still maintain flakiness, but add rich and bit tangy flavor to a tender rugelach dough. From a good friend of mine who is Israeli, I learned that traditional rugelach in Israel is always made with chocolate, while among American Jews it's made using jam.
"As rugelach has always been a favorite of mine, I decided to take this classic dessert and put my spin on it. I combined the traditional American jam filling with the Israeli chocolate filling, and snuck in some Slivovitz (a prized Serbian plum brandy) to represent my Serbian heritage."