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Skip the store-bought rugelach and make your own! You won't regret making a batch of this chocolate cranberry rugelach filled with walnuts, chocolate chips, strawberry jam, and cranberries.
Watch how to make this
What makes this recipe special
When I was young, my dad frequently bought rugelach cookies. I first thought they looked curious and assumed they probably weren't that delicious. I was proven wrong when I tried one and ended up eating the entire package, leaving only one for my dad. He was not pleased. I haven't had a rugelach in quite a while so I decided to make my own. To make mine a step better than the packaged ones, I jammed in two of my favorite flavors to make chocolate cranberry rugelach. Look out, Dad! I got a special treat coming just for you.
- Cream cheese: The dairy product adds a hint of tang to the crust while also contributing to the tender texture.
- Sour cream: Similar to the cream cheese, the sour cream adds a hint of tang while contributing to the cookie's soft texture.
- Dried cranberries: Tart dried cranberries balance the sweet chocolate and buttery cookie crust. You can experiment and try other dried fruits such as dried blueberries, dried cherries, or raisins.
- Strawberry preserves: Adds another layer of flavor while complimenting the chocolate and cranberries. You can substitute it with another type of fruit preserve such as orange, raspberry, or grape.
- Walnuts: The nuts add texture and nutty flavor to the filling. If you don't like walnuts, you can use pecans or almonds instead.
- Semi-sweet chocolate chips: We're using semi-sweet chocolate chips for a touch more sweetness but you can use bittersweet chocolate if you prefer a higher cocoa content.
- Coarse sugar: Also referred to as turbinado sugar, gives a crunchy texture to the exterior.
How to make chocolate cranberry rugelach
Step 1: Make the crust
There are many reasons why rugelach is so delicious. First, the crust. Made from equal parts cream cheese and butter, the pastry is incredibly flaky and buttery. Fill that flaky pastry with a chocolate cranberry walnut filling and it's game over.
To make this chocolate cranberry rugelach, start by making the dough. A food processor comes in handy for this recipe but you can also use a stand mixer. To make the dough with a mixer, use softened cream cheese and softened butter (as opposed to using cold ingredients for the processor). Beat the cream cheese, butter, and sour cream until light and fluffy, then add the sugar, salt, and flour. Mix the dough until well combined then chill in the fridge until firm.
Step 2: Prepare the filling
While the dough is chilling, make the filling. There are many different types of fillings for rugelach including raisins, dried figs, apricot jam, and raspberry jam. I even made a variation with peach jam, white chocolate, and hazelnuts (which was amazing!).
We will rehydrate the dried cranberries with water, sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla until the water has evaporated and the cranberries are plump. Blend the cranberry mixture with strawberry jam until well combined then stir in toasted walnuts and the chocolate. We want the chocolate to melt so add it while the mixture is warm.
Go ahead and give that filling a taste. Wonderful, isn't it?
Step 3: Shape the rugelach
Now it's time to make the chocolate cranberry rugelach. To prevent the dough from getting too soft, work with one batch at a time. Dust your counter with flour and roll out the dough until it's about 12x7 inches. Spread the filling in an even layer on top, leaving a small border on one end. Leaving a little exposed dough will help keep the seams close.
Roll the dough lengthwise into a tight log and return it to the fridge to firm up. This will help make it easier to cut later on. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling.
Step 4: Bake
While the rugelach is chilling, preheat the oven. I wait to preheat the oven until the last minute so that my kitchen isn't too warm. The warmer the kitchen, the quicker the dough will soften when rolling out, which will make it harder to roll.
Cut the logs into 1 ½-inch portions and place them on a lined baking sheet. Brush the tops with milk and sprinkle coarse sugar for that finishing touch. Bake the rugelach until golden brown and let it cool for about 2 minutes on the sheet before transferring them to a wire rack.
My o my these chocolate raspberry rugelach are delicious! They are, without a doubt, better than the ones sold in the market. I can't wait to share these with my dad or at least I hope there'll be some left to share! I just might eat them all in one sitting...
Frequently asked questions
Chilling the dough is crucial for achieving the right texture, but if you're short on time, you can place it in the freezer for a shorter duration.
Certainly, the coarse sugar is for added sweetness and texture, but it can be omitted if you prefer a less sweet taste.
Store the rugelach in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week or freeze for up to 3 months.
More holiday cookie recipes
Looking for more cookie recipes fit for the holidays? Try these:
Chocolate Cranberry Rugelach
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (166 grams)
- 1 ½ teaspoons granulated sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 4 ounces butter, cut into chunks
- 4 ounces cream cheese, cut into chunks
- 1 tablespoon sour cream
- ¾ cup dried cranberries (90 grams)
- ½ cup water (125 ml)
- ¼ cup brown sugar (50 grams)
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup strawberry preserves (160 grams)
- ½ cup toasted finely chopped walnuts (60 grams)
- ½ cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips (112 grams)
- 2 tablespoons milk
- coarse turbinado sugar for sprinkling
- Make the rugelach dough. Pulse together all-purpose flour with sugar, salt, butter, cream cheese, and sour cream in a food processor until the mixture forms a rough dough. Shape the dough into two discs, wrap in plastic, and chill in the fridge for 1 hour or until firm. Alternatively, chill in the freezer for 30 minutes or until firm.
- Meanwhile, make the filling. Combine dried cranberries with water, brown sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla extract. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and continue to cook until all the liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and blend the mixture with strawberry preserves until smooth. Add chopped toasted walnuts and mini chocolate chips, stirring to combine. Let cool.
- Take out one of the discs from the fridge. Dust a clean work counter with flour and roll the dough into a rectangle, about 12x8 inches. Spread ½ of the filling on the dough, leaving a ¼ inch border on the long side facing away from you. Roll the dough into a tight log, starting with the long side facing you. Place on a lined baking sheet and return to the refrigerator to chill. Repeat with the remaining dough.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Remove the logs from the refrigerator and slice into 1 ½ inch pieces. Place the cookies seam side down on lined baking sheets. Brush the tops of the rugelach with milk and sprinkle coarse sugar on top. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and cool on wire racks.