(If time allows, prepare the Modern Mince up to one week in advance. At the very least, let the flavors develop for a night or two in the fridge.)
(adapted from Joan Nathan and my Grandmother Minnie)
8 oz. (2 sticks) unsalted, butter, room temperature, cut into ½” pieces
8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature, cut into ½” pieces
2 tablespoons sugar
⅛ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour plus additional ¼ cup for rolling
In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, place butter and cream cheese. Beat on medium speed until well combined, then turn mixer to low and add sugar, salt, and vanilla. Turn off mixer, scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. With mixer on low, add the flour, one cup at a time, mixing just until combined. Do not overwork the dough. Scrape the dough onto a large piece of plastic wrap, dust it with flour, divide it into thirds, shape each portion into a disc and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least two hours, preferably overnight, before rolling out. You can also wrap the dough in plastic wrap and freeze.
For the filling-
1 cup homemade Modern Mince* (you won't use all of the Mince in the rugelach)
¼ cup finely chopped walnuts
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon
Combine the walnuts, sugar, brown sugar, and cinnamon in a bowl. Set aside.
Additional ½ cup apricot jam, thinned with 1-2 teaspoons fresh orange juice
To roll and fill the rugelach-
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two half sheet (18” x 13”) baking sheets with parchment paper. Retrieve one portion of chilled dough from the refrigerator. On a lightly floured sheet of parchment paper, roll the dough into a circle approximately 12” in diameter. Using an offset spatula, spread about 2 tablespoons of apricot jam over the dough. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the sugar/cinnamon/walnut mixture over the jam. Now carefully spread 2 tablespoons of the mince filling on top of the sugar/cinnamon/nut mixture. Using a bench scraper or a long, thin, spatula, divide the circle in half, then each half into five wedges, so you end up with 10 pieces. Don’t worry if they are not exactly the same size, but the more even their size, the more consistent their bake time. Lightly flour your fingers and roll each wedge of dough, starting at the wide end, forming a crescent. Place each crescent on one of the parchment lined baking sheets, about an inch apart, and turn the edges in slightly, for a more defined crescent shape. Refrigerate the baking sheet, retrieve the next portion of dough, the second baking sheet, and repeat the process of rolling/filling/rolling, until you have used all of the dough. Make sure to refrigerate both trays of rugelach for at least 15 minutes before placing them in the oven. The colder they are going into the hot oven, the more likely they are to hold their shape. Bake the rugelach on the middle and top racks of your oven, for about 25 minutes, rotating the pans from middle rack to top rack and top rack to middle rack, halfway through. I like to apply the slightest bit of apricot jam to the rugelach as soon as they come out of the oven. It adds a lovely shine and holds any wayward filling in place. Store the rugelach between layers of wax paper or parchment, covered loosely with aluminu foil.
Modern Mince Filling
(Note: This makes enough filling to bake a 9” or 9½” pie. You will only need about 1 cup of the mince to fill the rugelach. If you are going to the effort of making this filling, you might as well prepare a full batch and keep the extra covered and refrigerated. It makes a wonderful topping for vanilla bean or rum raisin ice cream, with an additional splash of your favorite holiday spirits. Or make a second round of rugelach and pop them, unbaked, in zip-loc bags and freeze.)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon cloves
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon allspice
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup packed, dark brown sugar (some folks prefer additional sweetener; I think less is more.)
3 pounds apples, peeled, cored, cut into ¼ inch dice (I used a combination of Honeycrisp and Granny Smith)
2 firm-yet-ripe pears, Anjou or Bosc, peeled, cored, cut into ¼ inch dice
½ cup dried currants
½ cup pitted prunes, chopped
½ cup dried figs OR dates, chopped
½ cup golden raisins
¼ cup dried apricots, chopped
½ cup unsulfured molasses
¼ cup brandy
zest and juice from one orange
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
In a medium bowl, whisk together the spices, salt, and sugar.
Place the apples, pears, and dried fruit in a heavy bottomed saucepan. Add the sugar/spice mixture to the fruit, turning to combine using a rubber spatula. Add the molasses, brandy, orange/lemon juices and zests. Stir to combine then add the butter pieces.
Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally until the liquid reduces and the mixture thickens. This will take between 1½ and 2 hours. (Keep an eye on things- you don’t want the mince to scorch on the bottom.) Remove from the heat, transfer the mince to a large bowl, and let the mixture cool completely. Cover and refrigerate. The mixture can sit in the fridge for up to 1 week before using.