“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.” -Miro Uskokovic, pastry chef at Gramercy Tavern. —Food52
about 30 to 40 cookies
For the fudge sauce:
For the dough, prune jam, and assembly:
sticks butter, cut in chunks and kept cold
sticks cream cheese, cut in chunks and kept cold
Generous pinch kosher salt
2 3/4 cups
unbleached all-purpose flour
Slivovitz [Editors' Note: We substituted brandy]
In a large pot, bring water, sugar, and heavy cream to a boil (you'll want to make sure that the pot is large because the mixture will steam and bubble up). Reduce to simmer and whisk in cocoa powder. Simmer on low until sauce has a fudge consistency, which may take 10 to 20 minutes.
For the dough, combine butter and cream cheese in stand mixer and mix into chunks. In a separate bowl, sift salt and flour. Add to the butter and cream cheese mixture and mix on low speed until just combined. Wrap dough in plastic wrap; refrigerate for one hour.
Meanwhile, in a medium spot, combine the prunes, Slivolitz, and water. Bring to a boil, then cook on low heat for 15 minutes stirring often, until prunes are soft. Place in food processor and blend until paste-like. Add the chocolate fudge sauce and combine.
Preheat the oven to 350° F. On a floured surface, roll out chilled dough into rectangle 1/4-inch thick. Cut the dough lengthwise into 5-inch strips and spread each with chocolate prune jam, then sprinkle over cocoa nibs. Roll up the strips into logs, place on sheet tray, and refrigerate until firm, at least 30 minutes. Cut logs into 2-inch slices, then roll each in melted butter and sugar. Place each log on a parchment-lined sheet tray, leaving 2 inches between each. Freeze for 30 minutes, then bake 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown [Editors' Note: our rugelach took 30 to 40 minutes to bake].