Archive for September, 2012


Puff Pastry Rugelach w/Ginger Chocolate Fruit Filling (Baked)

At one time I was a paralegal at a large law firm in New York City. I worked every night (7 days a week) past midnight. For dinner, I and my crew would order from Carnegie Deli, and I almost always asked for rugelach for dessert. This version of rugelach simulates a cream cheese pastry dough with standard puff pastry as the base. I could have used the low-temperature puff pastry dough, but this recipe is the first of several LTB experiments with standard puff pastry (Pepperidge Farm brand), purchased at my local market.

In this first trials, I made rugelach like mini crescent rolls. The dough, cut into triangles and spread with a layer of a cream cheese paste and dried fruit and nuts, was rolled up and baked at 250°F/121°C. As seen in the pictures above, the rolls puffed up nicely. However, when cut open, the dough in the inner part of the roll and on the bottom did not puff as much and imparted a hard texture to the pastries.

For the final version, I rolled the puff pastry into a single-layer log, because a single layer bakes faster and more thoroughly. The cream cheese paste was reformulated to be drier, as the wetter paste made the interior soggy. I conclude that for this kind of pastry, the low-temperature puff dough or a cream cheese tart dough would produce a result closer to the traditional rugelach. On the other hand, if these were baked at the package-recommended temperature of 350°F/177°C, these log-style or the crescent rugelach would be very crisp, flaky and spectacular puffs.

Makes 12 rugelach
– 60 calories per rugelach
– Oven Temperature: 250°F/121°C


  • 3 rectangles prepared puff pastry (2 x 4-1/2 x 1/8 inches – see text)
  • 1 egg, beaten

Chocolate Cream Cheese Filling

  • 2 tablespoons cream cheese
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon powdered ginger
  • 1 tablespoon whole wheat flour

Fruit-Nut Filling

  • 1/8 cup dried cherries, chopped
  • 1/8 cup raisins, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped nuts

Ginger Sugar

  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon powdered ginger

Filling Methods:

1. To make chocolate cream cheese filling: in a small dish, mix the cream cheese and sugar.

2. Add cocoa and ginger and mix until well combined. Set aside.

3. Mix in flour to form a thick paste.

4. To make fruit-nut mix filling, in a small dish, mix the chopped raisins, dried cherries and chopped nuts.

Rugelach Method:

1. For each pastry, cut a sheet of 1/8-inch thick puff pastry dough 2 x 4-1/2 inches.

2. Spread a thin layer of chocolate cream cheese over the surface.

3. Sprinkle about 1-1/2 tablespoons of the fruit-nut mix over the top half of the dough only.

4. Fold the dough up and seal the edges to form a log.

5. Cut the log into 3 pieces and place on baking mat.

6. In a small dish, combine 1 teaspoon sugar and 1/4 teaspoon powdered ginger.

7. Lightly brush the surface of the rugelach with beaten egg or apricot/peach jam and sprinkle with the ginger sugar.

8. Bake rugelach for 50 minutes until golden. They will crisp up as they cool.


Walnut and Valerian Biscotti (Baked)

[Equipment: convection oven for slow baking, baking tray with silicone mat. For more information about the terminology in this recipe, see Low Temperature Baking: A Journey of 3 Paths.]

Note: This cookie contains a medicinal ingredient: valerian root. Please research any concerns about the ingredient before making this recipe.

These relaxing cookies get their mild but noticeable tranquilizing effect from homemade valerian root oil. Valerian has a bitter taste, so I played with the bitterness by adding complementary flavors of brown sugar, walnuts and coffee. Baking soda offsets some of the acidity, for a cookie that tastes very smooth. The sedating effect is truly mild for me, and I could eat them all day. However, anyone not familiar with valerian root should consume them cautiously.

My local market sells solid valerian root, which is very hard – like wood – and cannot be cut with a knife. For the oil infusion, I snipped off small chunks of it with a set of wire cutters, the kind sold in hardware stores. The same amount (2 grams) of powdered valerian root could be infused more easily, and could be added to the cookie dough after infusion with the risk of more bitter cookie. Choose a bland oil (I had canola) to avoid any off flavors. The infusion time should be at least 24 hours at 115°F/46.1°C.

The infusion could be heated in an oven, a dehydrator, on an insulated incense burner, even in a box heated with an incandescent bulb, but keep the temperature no higher to preserve the efficacy of the valerian essences.

Makes 10 cookies
– 117 calories per cookie
– Oven Temperature: 250°F/121°C


  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon valerian oil (see text and see below)
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 4 packets sucralose (equal to about 3 tablespoons sugar)
  • 1/2 teaspoon instant coffee
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (or other nuts)

Valerian Oil:

  • 2 grams valerian root or valerian powder
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Valerian Oil Method:

1. If using valerian root, weigh out 2 grams. With mini clippers, break up the root by snipping off small chunks. If using valerian powder, measure out 2 grams of powder.

2. In a small heatproof dish, mix the root pieces with the vegetable oil. Cover the dish with heat-resistant plastic wrap.

3. Heat the oil over an insulated incense burner or put the dish in a low oven for at least 24 hours. In either case, the temperature of the oil should rise no higher than 115°F/46°C. Check it occasionally with a thermometer. Use immediately or store until ready to use.

Biscotti Method:

1. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder until well combined.

2. In a small bowl, mix the egg, brown sugar, sucralose, valerian oil, vanilla and water until the brown sugar has completely dissolved.

3. Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix to form a stiff dough.

4. Add walnuts and knead into the dough.

5. Transfer the dough to a baking mat. Shape into flat log about 9.5 x 3 inches.

6. Bake at 250°F/121°C for 30-35 minutes until lightly golden.

7. With a serrated knife, cut the log on a diagonal into 1-inch cookies. Place the cookies on the baking mat, one cut side facing up. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes. Turn cookies over so that other cut side faces up. Bake for another 15 minutes.

8. Let cool and serve or store in an airtight container.