While classic Rugelach is made with a flaky, buttery dough, Israeli Chocolate Rugelach uses a dough incorporating yeast. This dough creates a softer, bread-like texture in the pastry, making it a unique twist on the traditional recipe.
Israeli Chocolate Rugelach is perfect for any occasion; we like to eat them warm/at room temperature for Sunday brunch or afternoon tea.
This recipe is easy but requires a little patience, but finally, when you take a bite, you will realize how much it was all worth it.
What is Rugelach?
Rugelach is a traditional Jewish pastry that originated in Poland. It typically consists of a buttery dough filled with jam, chopped nuts, cinnamon, and sugar. The dough is rolled out and then filled before being shaped into crescent shapes and baked.
What is Israeli Chocolate Rugelach?
The typical Rugelach you find in the US is made of dough enriched with cream cheese. That results in flaky and small bite-sized cookies. The Israeli Rugelach is made of yeasted dough (like babka), resulting in puffed and soft cookies.
Rugelach is a popular pastry in Israel and can be found in many bakeries and cafes throughout the country. Some variations of Rugelach include cinnamon and halvah.
*The full recipe is in the recipe card below
Flour: All-purpose flour is the structure of the dough.
Yeast (active dry yeast): Active dry yeast needs to be bloomed in liquid before being used to make dough. However, it is not necessary to bloom newly purchased yeast. Instead, it can be added directly to the dry ingredients.
Sugar: For the sweetness of course. But sugar also feeds the yeast, increases its activity, and tenderizes the dough.
Eggs: Large eggs at room temperature.
Milk: The high-fat content of whole milk will make your cake more soft and tender. No skim milk in this recipe, please.
Butter: Unsalted and cut into small pieces.
Salt: To balance the flavors, don’t skip!
Chocolate spread: For the filling.
How to Make Chocolate Rugelach?
- Make the dough: This dough is soft, a little sticky, puffy, and very buttery yeast dough. Read my pro-tips below.
- Let the dough rise: Allow the dough to rise in a relatively warm environment for 90 minutes to two hours or until it doubles in size. This dough is rich in fat, so it takes longer than other doughs to rise.
- Divide dough into 2 pieces.
- Roll them out. Spread with chocolate spread.
- Shape the Rugelach, then let it rise again.
- Brush the baked Rugelach with sugar syrup when it comes out of the oven.
Plan ahead: The dough requires time to rise, so plan your baking process accordingly.
IMPORTANT! Although it’s possible to leave the dough at room temperature for the first rise, it’s highly recommended to place it in the fridge for 6-8 hours, so it sets properly and is easy to work with. Place the dough into a greased bowl and grease the top. Cover with plastic wrap, and poke a few holes in it with a sharp knife or a toothpick so the yeast can “breathe.”
If you take the fridge route, the dough may not look like it has risen much, and that’s OK! Also, if the dough is hard to handle, leave it at room temperature to soften for 30-60 minutes before rolling and shaping.
Dough Consistency: Pay attention to the consistency of your dough. The dough should be completely smooth, elastic, shiny, and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. It may look soft and might be sticky – that’s ok.
Add a few drops of milk or water if the dough is very dry. Occasionally scrap the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula to ensure all ingredients are incorporated.
When ready, the chocolate Rugelach will be a deep golden brown on top. If you have an instant-read thermometer, it should read between 190°F to 200°F in the center of the cookie.
Store the cooled Rugelach in a plastic bag or an airtight container on the counter for up to two days. These cookies will start drying out after 24 hours, but the good news is that they freeze well.
Once the Rugelach are completely cooled, place them in an airtight container. Store it in the freezer for up to a month. Thaw Rugelach at room temperature. Before serving, warm the Rugelach in a 325°F oven for 5 to 7 minutes or until warmed through.
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Israeli Chocolate Rugelach
For the dough:
- 1 stick (110g) unsalted butter cut into small pieces
- 3/4 cup (180ml) whole (full-fat) milk
- 3 and 1/2 cups (500g) all-purpose flour plus extra for dusting and kneading
- 1/3 cup (65g) granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon (10g) active dry yeast
- 2 large eggs at room temperature
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- cooking spray for greasing the dough
For the chocolate filling:
- 1 cup chocolate spread
- 1 egg
- 2 Tablespoons (30ml) milk or water
For the sugar syrup:
- 1/3 cup (80ml) water
- 1/3 cup (65g) granulated sugar
Make the dough:
- Melt the butter in a microwave-safe bowl. Add the milk and stir well.
- Place flour, yeast, and sugar in a standing mixer fitted with the dough hook and mix on low speed for about 1-2 minutes.
- Add the eggs and milk mixture and mix on medium speed until the dough comes together (3-5 minutes). Add salt. If the dough hasn’t come together, add a few drops of water or milk. Occasionally scrap the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula to ensure all ingredients are incorporated. Continue mixing for about 10 minutes on medium speed until the dough is completely smooth, elastic, and shiny and pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
The first rise:
- Transfer the dough to a large bowl with floured hands and spray the top with oil. Cover with a towel or plastic wrap. Place it in a warm environment to rise until doubled, about 90 minutes to 2 hours.
- Alternatively, leave in the fridge for at least half a day or overnight to rise. *If placed a long time in the fridge the dough can become hard – that’s normal; leave it at room temperature to soften for 30-60 minutes or until it’s easy to work with.
Shape the Rugelach:
- Roll one piece of dough into a rectangle about 3/4 inch thick 15 inch long and 10 inch wide (approximately). Spread the chocolate filling on the dough in an even layer all the way to the edges.
- Fold the dough in half on its longer side, then roll it again as thinly as possible. Some filling might start to come out of the dough, it is messy but fun:-)
- Cut the dough into 10-14 equal triangles (about 2.5 inch wide). Roll each wedge up, starting from the wide end. Repeat with the rest of the dough.
- Carefully transfer the rolled cookie to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Place rolls, pointed-side down, on 2 parchment-lined baking sheets, spaced at least 1 inch apart.
- Repeat the process with the second half of the dough and chocolate filling.
- Cover the Rugelach and allow it to rest for 20 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C.
- Whisk 2 tablespoons of milk/water with the egg and brush the Rugelach. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until deep golden brown on top. Remove from the oven and generously brush with syrup.
While the Rugelach bake, make the sugar syrup:
- Bring sugar and water to a simmer until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. As soon as the Rugelach leaves the oven, brush the syrup all over it. It will seem like too much, but will taste just right- glossy and moist. *Syrup should be cooled to ROOM TEMPERATURE before brushing it on the HOT Rugelach.