I have gotten the chance to do some really awesome things since I started this little blog of mine (Taste of the Nation Orlando and the Central Florida Bloggers Conference, to name a few), but I’ve got to say the coolest one so far was having the opportunity to participate in the first Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap, set up by Julie of The Little Kitchen and Lindsay of Love and Olive Oil. More than 600 food bloggers from around the world signed up, and we were each given the names of three bloggers to send a dozen cookies to. I loved the idea of a “Secret Santa” type of cookie swap to begin with, but I never thought that I’d end up finding so many more awesome people through this event! It was such a fun thing to participate in and I’m already looking forward to next year!
For my cookies, I made rugelach, a traditional Jewish cookie that I grew up eating and only learned to make a few years ago. The dough is insanely simple to make and so every year I make it in huge batches and freeze it in dough rounds that each make a dozen cookies. I was so excited to share these with my fellow bloggers as so many people have never heard of rugelach, much less tried them. I love these cookies not only because of the texture of the dough itself, but because you can fill them with so many different things! The traditional filling includes raisins, walnuts, and cinnamon, and my favorite is a variation of that, but I made a few other fillings as well since I was making so many. I use Ina Garten’s rugelach recipe from the Food Network recipe for the dough, and for my basic filling I have adapted hers as well.
adapted from Ina Garten’s Foodnetwork.com recipe
makes 4 dozen cookies
8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 lb unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup apricot preserves
1 egg, for the egg wash
For the dough:
1. Beat the cream cheese and butter together with an electric mixer until smooth and light in color.
2. Add the sugar, vanilla, and salt and mix until combined.
3. Mixing on low, add the flour until just combined.
4. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and roll into a ball, then divide into four, flatten each section into a round disc, and wrap tightly in plastic wrap.
5. Refrigerate for at least one hour.
To assemble the cookies:
1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
2. In a small bowl, combine the raisins and brown sugar.
3. Roll each ball of dough out on a floured surface until they each form an approximately 9-inch circle. Spread each circle with a thin layer of apricot preserves, then sprinkle them with the filling, pressing it lightly into the dough.
4. Cut each circle into quarters, and then cut each quarter into three wedges. Starting at the wide end of each wedge, roll the dough tightly towards the pointy end, then place each cookie, pointy end down, on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (These cookies barely expand while baking, so you can place them fairly close together).
5. Brush each cookie with egg wash and then bake for 15-20 minutes until lightly browned. Let cool on a wire rack.
Ina Garten chills her rolled cookies for 30 minutes before baking them. I have done this in the past and have honestly not noticed a difference, but obviously it is up to you. She also sprinkles her cookies with a mixture of cinnamon and sugar after brushing with the egg wash; I find that this makes them a bit too sweet for my taste, but it isn’t a bad thing to add, either.
Instead of the raisin/brown sugar filling that I like to use or the one with nuts and cinnamon that Ina has in the original website, you can try almost any combination of dried fruit and preserves. For the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap, I tried:
mini chocolate chips, sprinkled over the dough circles and lightly pressed in
a thin layer of strawberry preserves sprinkled lightly with brown sugar
strawberry preserves, brown sugar, and dried cranberries
strawberry preserves, brown sugar, and golden raisins
Frankly, I love them all.
In addition to sending three dozen cookies to fellow food bloggers, I received three dozen of my own!
The first box I received were from Bianca at Becoming Bianca – she sent me delicious white chocolate cranberry oatmeal cookies…SO GOOD. I’m pretty sure C loved them even more than I did, since he ate almost all of them before I even got a chance 😉
The second box arrived from Brittany of Life of a Bama Girl. Her cinnamon pinwheel cookies were scrumptious and so hard to stop eating!
And finally, I got a box of white chocolate chip cookies with peppermint glaze from Jennifer at Mother Thyme. Freakin’. Amazing. No joke.
Want to see their recipes? Check out their blogs…everyone that participated in the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap posted their recipe today!!