Everyone has that one sweet from their childhood that bubbles up all those fuzzy, nostalgic vibes. For me, it’s rugelach, those flaky crescents of cream cheese dough rolled up with anything from chocolate to jam to nuts. Every year as far back as I can remember, Evelyn Offner, a dear family friend, would drop off a giant aluminum tray packed with dozens of rugelach for my family right before Rosh Hashanah, and all hell would break loose. In a scene reminiscent of a Walmart on Black Friday, my mother, sister and I would fight like animals to grab as many of her dark chocolate or cinnamon-walnut rolled beauties as we could. And they almost certainly never lasted long enough to make it to the Jewish New Year.
After years of asking, Evelyn was gracious enough to share her recipe with me, and I’ve since adapted it with every possible filling combination you can imagine. If you’re ready to embrace rugelach as the buttery, poppable party app I’m trying to rebrand it as, let’s talk. Cacio e pepe (“cheese and pepper”) rugelach need no further explanation than that they’re cheesy bites of heaven and I will typically eat a dozen in one sitting. And it couldn’t be simpler—the dough comes together in minutes the filling requires just one bowl for stirring. Let’s get rolling.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the cream cheese, butter and confectioners’ sugar. Beginning on low speed and gradually increasing to medium, mix until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the flour and salt, then mix until a smooth dough forms. Divide the dough into 4 equal disks, wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line two sheet pans with parchment paper.
On a lightly floured work surface, roll out one disk of the dough into a 9-inch round. Spread one- quarter of the filling evenly over the dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Slice the dough into 12 even wedges. Roll each wedge up tightly from the outside edge in, then place the rugelach on one of the prepared sheet pans, spacing them 1/2 inch apart. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling, dividing the rugelach between the prepared pans. Brush the rugelach with the beaten egg white.
Bake, rotating the pans halfway through, for 20 to 22 minutes, until the rugelach are golden brown. Let cool slightly, then serve.
Cacio e Pepe Rugelach Filling:
In a small bowl, mix together the Parmesan, Pecorino, mayonnaise and pepper until smooth. Garnish each rugelach with a pinch of pepper before baking.