Pillow-soft cream cheese pastry dough is filled with a homemade fig filling made from dried figs that are soaked overnight in cherry juice. The tart cherry juice blended with the intense jammy flavors of the fig is a lovely balance to the tangy cream cheese dough. These cookies are a classic holiday dessert that you will love!
Prep Time 45minutes
Cook Time 20minutes
Chill Time 2hours
Total Time 1hour5minutes
Cream cheese pastry
8ozcream cheeseroom temperature
2Call purpose flour
10ozdried mission figs
To make the pastry
Place the butter in a stand mixer bowl or a large mixing bowl. Using a mixer, cream the butter on medium speed for about 30 seconds. Add the cream cheese and white sugar and cream on high for 3 minutes or until pale and fluffy. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.
Add the vanilla and salt and mix on low speed until well combined. Turn off the mixer and add the flour. Mix on medium speed just until combined. Don't overmix your cookie dough, or you will end up with tough cookies. Bring the dough together by hand with a spatula.
Turn out the prepared dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap, and chill for at least 2 hours. It's best to let the dough chill overnight, but you'll need to chill for at least 2 hours so the dough is easy to roll out. If you're short on time for chilling, split the dough into two equal halves before wrapping in plastic wrap. The dough will keep in the fridge for up to one week.
To make the fig filling
Place all of the ingredients in a medium mixing bowl and allow the figs to soak for a minimum of two hours but preferably overnight. Once soaked, add the fig mix to a saucepan and cook over medium heat until the liquid becomes a thick syrup or about 15-20 minutes. Add the hot mixture to a food processor and blend until it is a nice jammy consistency. Allow the jam o cool completely before using in the rugelach.
To make the rugelach
Once chilled and ready to cook, remove the dough from the fridge and allow to warm up just enough so that you can roll it out, usually about 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and prepare two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Flour your work surface well.
Roll out the cream cheese dough into something resembling a rectangle (don't worry, we're going to trim the rough edges), rotating the dough 90 degrees every few rolls to ensure it's not sticking. Add flour as necessary to keep the dough from sticking to your surface.
Once the dough is about a quarter-inch thick, trim the edges off the dough to form an even rectangle. I like to measure using a classic metal ruler that I keep in the kitchen, but you can also eyeball it. They will taste great even if they aren't exactly the same size, but do aim for at least similar cookie sizes so they cook evenly.
Cut the dough into 1.5-inch strips using a pizza wheel or a bench scraper. If you don't have a bench scraper, GET ONE. They are a secret weapon when it comes to working with pastry. I've linked to one above for easy purchasing.
Cut each strip into approximately 3-inch pieces. Smear each piece with a heaping teaspoon of fig filling and spread gently across the dough leaving a rim around the edges so the filling doesn't spill out.
Using your bench scraper to lift the dough, fold the dough in half to sandwich the jam in the middle being careful to try and keep the dough from breaking at the crease. Gently lift the cookies from your work surface with the bench scraper and place on the prepared baking sheets, about two inches apart from each other.
Make an egg wash by beating the 1 egg with 1 tsp of cool water. Using a pastry brush, brush the tops of each cookie lightly with the egg wash and then sprinkle with demerara sugar*
Bake the cookies for 15 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the cook time. Allow the cookies to cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet before moving to a wire rack to cool completely.
* The demerara sugar adds a nice texture to the soft cream cheese cookie, but it's not required. I've included a link above to purchase some. It's a baking weapon for finishing.