Perfect the crescent-shaped cookie.
Cherry and Pistachio Rugelach
Credit: Linda Pugliese; Styling: Kaitlyn Du Ross Walker

Let me begin by saying that rugelach does not get nearly the amount of attention that it deserves. Living in the shadow of its fellow Hanukkah staple dish, latkes, this cream cheese dough pastry is the most underrated holiday food. Highly customizable and easy to make ahead of time, rugelach is the crowd-pleasing dessert option that you never knew you needed. There’s a variety of different ways to go about making this adorable treat, so before you get started, here are a few tips and tricks to make sure that you’re on your way to dessert success.

Get out the Food Processor

While you certainly can use an electric mixer or your hand to mix the dough, the food processor is arguably your best option for this particular dough solely because it’s such a foolproof method. The processor is a great option because it helps combat the possibility of overworking the dough with your hands.

Watch Now: How to Make Praline Rugelach

Pick a Filling

The beauty of rugelach is that you can truly make it what you want. Whether you’re wanting to head the fruity route or opt for a rich, chocolate filing, both are highly complementary to the basic cream cheese dough. If you like, you can also sprinkle the filling with any additional toppings like chopped nuts, bits of chocolate, or toasted seeds. If it sounds like a dope combination to you, then go ahead and make it happen atop your rolled-out slab of rugelach dough. Don’t be afraid to live your rugelach truth.

Pick Your Cutting Method

For all intents and purposes, there are two common ways to roll and cut these cookies. The first, which is slightly more involved, requires you to roll the dough out into an even circle, spread the filling across the dough, and then, ideally using a pizza cutter for straight, non-jagged edges, slice 12 even wedges like a pizza pie. From there, start rolling the dough from the widest edge into the center. If you choose this method, it’s important to make sure that they’re rolled tightly, otherwise these precious little crescents may be susceptible to slight cracking.

The other option is somewhat less-involved, and the better option if you’re a little bit short on time. Simply roll the dough out into a square, spread the filling and roll up the entire piece of dough into one log. Slice the log into 12 even pieces, and voila, your rugelach is cut and rolled. In both cutting methods, it’s crucial to aim for even pieces, because that means all the cookies will bake to completion at the same rate.

Chill Before Baking

That same dough that you worked so hard to gently roll out and form into beautiful crescents can easily lose its eye-catching shape in the oven if you don’t send it into the freezer for at least 10 minutes before baking. If you give them a quick preliminary squeeze, they’ll maintain their structure while simultaneously baking to perfection.

By Sara Tane and Sara Tane