Here is a Middle Eastern flavored version of my Rugelach cookie with a flaky cream cheese pastry. This recipe uses dates, pecans and orange marmalade with allspice and cinnamon to compliment the filling.
COOKS NOTES: The pastry and filling should be made a day before baking. The pastry needs to firm up and the flavors in the filling will develop and meld. You can use either sweet or bitter orange marmalade. I like sweet. Medjool dates are the best quality and really shine in this filling. Form the filling into a teaspoon sized bullet that fits to the end of each dough triangle. The filling will slightly ooze out of the pastry and bake up perfect. Use good quality butter and cream cheese as the taste of this pastry depends on it. Try Cinnamon Sugar Trio by Simply Organic - Spice Right Everyday Blends I found at Whole Foods. This is a very spicy blend of Organic cinnamon and sugar and is perfect for sprinkling on cookies and your morning oatmeal.
—Lorraine Fina Stevenski
Cream Cheese Dough:
unsalted butter, 2 sticks cut into 16 pieces, CHILLED
cream cheese, Philadelphia full fat, CHILLED
MAKE THE COOKIE DOUGH: To the bowl of a large food processor add the flour and sugar. On top, add the butter and cream cheese pieces; pulse a few times just until it resembles coarse crumbs. Add the vanilla, almond extract, orange zest and salt; process just until a soft dough forms. Remove from the processor bowl and lightly knead on a floured surface. Cut in 4 and flatten each into a round disk; wrap in plastic and refrigerate 1 hour or overnight before rolling out.
MAKE THE FILLING: Wash out the processor bowl. Add all the filling ingredients to the processor bowl. Pulse just until the filling holds together and is nice and sticky but coarsely chopped. Refrigerate until ready to use. Make a few days ahead and the filling flavors will be more intense and delicious.
PUT IT ALL TOGETHER: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 4 large half sheet cookie pans with parchment paper. Remove one dough disk from the refrigerator at a time. On a lightly floured large piece of parchment paper roll out each disk into a 8" circle about 1/2 inch thick. Use an 8" to 9" dessert plate as your guide and cut with a pizza cutter. Save and refrigerate the scraps for the 5th dough circle. Knead the scraps together to form a disk and roll as described previously. Reuse a cooled parchment lined pan for the 5th dough circle cookies. Place a thin layer of orange marmalade over the dough round. Cut the dough circle into 8 triangles. Form a teaspoon sized bullet with the filling and place almost at the begining of the wide end of each triangle. The filling bullet should reach the end of the triangle dough. Roll up the dough and filling into a crescent starting with the wide end. Arrange seam side down; 12 cookies on each pan. Push each cookie into a semicircle crescent shape. Nice and neat! Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.
Bake 2 cookie sheets at a time until light golden brown; about 15-20 minutes. Cool 15 minutes before removing from the pan.