These flaky, cream cheese pastry cookies filled with cinnamon, walnuts and a bit of plum jam are melt-in-your-mouth satisfying. With just a little time and know-how (step-by step instructions included!) these yummy rugelach cookies with jam and nuts will quickly become a favorite. Great for holiday trays or any day!
One of my favorite cookies is rugelach, (pronounced “rug-uh-luh”) those yummy little rolled pastry-like cookie delights that came over to America with Eastern European immigrants. I remember discovering them for the first time when I was already an adult and my mom and I were shopping at a grocery store near her home. She was excited to share her new find with me and how I had never tasted them before is a mystery that I still can’t figure out.
The store bakery featured rugelach with several filling options, each one delicious in its own way – cinnamon/sugar/nuts, chocolate, raisins, jam (apricot, strawberry, raspberry). We tried them all; more than once, I have to admit. And then, of course, we had numerous debates about which ones were best. No matter, we were happy with all of them!
What makes them so good is the light and flaky cream cheese/butter pastry dough, which is a perfect base for the sweet fillings.
Once I had tasted them, rugelach quickly became a favorite, but oddly enough, I never once considered baking them myself. Recently though, I was craving some of that rugelach sweetness and I decided to go for it with these rugelach cookies with jam and nuts– I was so happy I did!
After trying several recipes (and everyone seems to have their own favorite Grandma’s, Auntie’s or neighbor’s recipe!) I finally came up with my new favorite.
They are amazingly scrumptious and the method for making rugelach is a little bit fussy, but not really difficult – just don’t try it if you want to whip something together in a hurry, because there are a few steps.
This version is a cinnamon/sugar/walnut filling, sprinkled on a thin layer of plum jam to hold the toppings in place.
Let’s Make Some Rugelach Cookies With Jam and Nuts
Basically, what you are doing is making a cream cheese pastry dough, dividing it into three equal sized disks and allowing the disks to chill until firm. The dough is buttery and creamy and you will not be able to roll it out until it firms up.
When chilled, you remove one disk and roll it out into a large thin circle. Next you’ll cover the disk with a thin layer of jam, then sprinkle the cinnamon/sugar mix in a layer on top of the jam. And you’ll sprinkle the walnuts on top of that.
Next, you’ll cut the dough into 16 even sections and roll each section from the outside in, to form the cute little rugelach rolls. I’ll explain more in the recipe card below. Then sprinkle more cinnamon sugar on the tops.
It sounds like a lot of sweet, but the dough is basically like pie crust and only has a little bit of sugar in it, so you get your sweetness from the filling.
These rugelach cookies taste fantastic when warm, but do try to wait a few minutes for them to cool, as the hot jam will surely burn your tongue. (ouch, I speak from experience!)
Each disk makes 16 rugelach cookies and the uncooked dough disks will keep in the refrigerator for several days or can be frozen like pie crust.
All in all, these rugelach cookies with jam and nuts are well worth the little effort to make – I’m sure you will not be disappointed with the results!
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Rugelach Cookies With Jam And Nuts
For the Pastry:
- 1 cup butter, softened to room temperature
- 1 cup cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- 2 TBSP sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2¼ cups all purpose flour
For the Filling:
- ¾ cup smooth plum jam
- ¾ cup walnuts, finely chopped almost to the point of being ground, but not quite
- ½ cup sugar
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 4 teaspoons cinnamon powder
For the Dough:
- Mix butter, cream cheese and salt together in mixing bowl
- Add flour gradually and when mixed, form into a large ball
- Divide the ball into 3 equal parts
- Form each ball into a flat disk
- Wrap each disk with plastic wrap, then refrigerate the dough disks
- Mix sugar, brown sugar and cinnamon together and set aside
- Chop walnuts and set aside
- When dough is thoroughly chilled and firm (up to 2 hours), remove one disk from refrigerator and roll into an 11” circle (approximately); don’t stress over the exact size, but dough should be thin, no more than 1/8 inch, and even thickness all over.
- Spread the jam in a very thin layer over the entire circle leaving about ¼ inch around the edges. HINT: you may not need all of the jam specified, it just depends on the diameter of your rolled disk. I give the amount as approximate because the layer of jam should be very thin. You’ll have a tendency to think “more is better”, but I can tell you from experience, more jam will just ooze onto your parchment, burn and make your cookies ugly. Resist the temptation! Use just enough jam to thinly cover the dough disk.
- Sprinkle approximately ⅓ of the cinnamon/sugar mix (a scant ¼ cup) over the jam in a fine layer, almost but not quite to the edge of the disk, reserving a bit to sprinkle on the tops of the cookies after they are rolled, before baking.
- Sprinkle approximately ⅓ of the walnuts (about ¼ cup) over the cinnamon sugar. If you see any walnut chunks that are bigger and rise above the rest, remove from the surface
- With a pizza wheel or a sharp knife, slice the disk into 16 equal parts. HINT: I find it easier to cut the disk in half, then into quarters. Then cut those pieces again into halves, then again into halves to make 16 thin pizza shaped slices
- Now firmly roll each triangle from the wide outside edge in toward the centerpoint. The tighter the roll, the better. Traditionally, these rolls are not curved to make crescents; just rolled.
- Place each rolled cookie point-side down on the cookie sheet. These cookies do not spread out so you can place them rather close together
- Sprinkle cookies lightly with sugar/cinnamon mixture
- Bake at 350°F for about 20-25 minutes or until lightly browned.