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Thursday, December 24, 2015

Prune and Chocolate Rugelach

I messed up.  I was in a hurry, doing 3 things at once, and I mixed the ingredients wrong.  Instead of measuring out the required portion of the fudge sauce, I dumped the whole lot in, which was about a cup.  I wondered why there was so much filling!  Obviously these would have been much tangier and less chocolaty had I done it properly.  You would have gotten more of the rich pastry relative to the filling, and I might have been able to squeeze in more chocolate nibs if I'd had less filling (though I'm not so sure that would have been a good idea.)

For starters, I'd say the original recipe was sloppy.  Who are these people on paid sites would are such poor recipe writers???  Anyway, I made only half the recipe, and I changed the shape.  Rugelach, in my experience, are not sliced logs -- they're rolled crescents.  So that's what I made.  The instructions also called to mix cold butter and cold cream cheese into a chunky mass.  I didn't see why I would want chunks of either in the dough.  All other recipes I looked at called for both to be soft so they would mix together homogeneously, so that's what I did.  Another change I would make for a future version would be to macerate the fruit overnight in the booze, or just leave the booze out entirely and use water.  It wasn't noticeable.  (You certainly don't need Slivovitz.)  I've written the recipe here as it should be, not as I did it.

Here's what I used, with my changes in strikeout and italics (yield 2 dozen cookies):

For the fudge sauce (makes about 1 cup):
3 ounces (3/8 cup) water
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/8 teaspoon salt

For the dough, prune jam, and assembly:
1 cup prunes
1/8 cup Slivovitz [Food 52's note: We substituted brandy]
1 stick butter, cut in chunks and kept cold room temperature 
4.5 ounces cream cheese, cut in chunks and kept cold room temperature
Generous pinch kosher fine salt
1 3/8 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/6 cup water
1/6 cup fudge sauce (from above)
4 ounces cocoa nibs (or less) or chopped nuts
Melted, cooled butter, for coating cookies
Granulated sugar, for coating rolling cookies

The night before, place the prunes in a small bowl and pour over the Slivovitz, brandy, or whatever liquid you are using.  Mix to coat, cover, and leave to plump.  

In a small pot, bring water, sugar, and heavy cream to a boil. Reduce to simmer and whisk in cocoa powder. Simmer on low until sauce has a fudge consistency, which may take 10 to 20 minutes. (Mine got thick quickly and I had to add quite a bit of water to thin it out to a fudge sauce consistency.) 

For the dough, combine butter and cream cheese in stand mixer. In a separate bowl, sift salt and flour. Add to the butter and cream cheese mixture and mix on low speed until just combined. Divide dough into two equal rounds, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for one hour. Meanwhile, in a small pot, combine the macerated prunes and water. Bring to a boil, then cook on low heat for several 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 sugared surface, roll out one chilled dough round into a 9-10" circle about 1/8-inch thick. Spread half of the chocolate-prune jam over it, then sprinkle with half the cocoa nibs (or your desired amount). Cut the circle into 12 equal wedges.  Roll up each wedge, starting from the wide end, making sure the sugar is coating the pastry.  Place on a greased sheet tray, tip down, about 2 inches apart. Repeat with the second dough round. Bake 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown.  (Watch that the bottoms don't get too dark.)  Remove cookies from the baking sheet promptly and cool on a wire rack.

I rolled these out on granulated sugar so I didn't have to fuss with brushing them with melted butter and dipping in sugar after they were rolled.  It worked fine, but the sugar browned a lot on the bottom.  It could easily burn.  Using an insulated cookie sheet would prevent that problem.

On an aside, for some reason my chocolate nibs, bought specially for this recipe from a bulk supplier, tasted of banana, and this was detectable in the cookies.  It didn't "go" with the other flavors.  I love the texture of the nibs, but I'll reserve the remainder of this purchase for something more banana friendly.  Nuts would work fine here.

Conclusion:  These needed something. Or maybe less of something.  I'm not sure if less filling would make the difference needed, or if mixing it to the proper ratio would help, or if they just needed a little more salt.  As rugelach go, I've had better.  The filling was tasty, just seemed a little flat.  The prunes could be changed out with another tart fruit, such as apricots or tart cherries.  I think they would also benefit from some lemon zest.  But it's unfair to judge when I didn't make it right.

Recipe:  Prune and Chocolate Rugelach via Food 52.

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