Sticky cinnamon bun, meet your new BFF, the rugelach. I think you two will get along very well.
I know we’re just getting over fried food and latkes galore, but December really isn’t for cutting back! It’s about holidays, snuggling up by the fire and cookie exchanges. January 1st can just take its turn and wait. But a word of caution: these sticky bun rugelach may be the most indulgent rugelach you have ever tasted. And while I recognize there is nothing like the traditional jam and nut-filled rugelach of my grandmother’s generation, this updated version will not disappoint.
With this recipe, I’ve taken my favorite rugelach dough and spiced it up with cinnamon and orange zest and then rolled the cookies with homemade caramel sauce and caramelized nuts and raisins. (Note – allow the caramel sauce to cool to room temperature before rolling; I learned this the hard way). After rolled, you can continue to take this over the top with some cinnamon streusel. And finally as it’s fresh out of the oven, drizzle a bit more caramel sauce and icing.
Slide on your comfiest pants and get baking. You won’t regret it…or at least not till January.
Sticky Cinnamon Bun Rugelach
For the dough:
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 lb unsalted butter, room temperature
¼ cup sugar
2 Tbsp orange zest
2 cups flour, sifted
1 tsp cinnamon
Pinch of salt
For the caramelized nuts:
1 ½ cups chopped nuts (I used a combination of pecans and walnuts)
6 Tbsp butter
½ cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp orange zest
Pinch of salt
1 cup raisins
For the caramel sauce:
8 Tbsp butter
1 ½ cup brown sugar
½ cup heavy cream
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
For the streusel topping:
½ cup flour
½ cup sugar
½ tsp cinnamon
4 Tbsp butter, softened and cut into small pieces
¼ cup chopped nuts (I used pecans and walnuts)
Egg + water, for egg wash
For the icing (optional):
½ cup powdered sugar
1-2 Tbsp milk (depending on consistency)
½ tsp vanilla extract
To caramelize the nuts, add all the ingredients for the caramelized nuts in a large nonstick pan and cook on low heat until the butter melts. Use a spatula to toss everything around so butter is evenly distributed. Continue to cook until butter and sugar is completely melted and nuts smell toasted. Once done, pour onto a baking sheet and allow to cool. Then roughly break into pieces.
To make the dough, add the butter and cream cheese and beat until creamy in a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Then add the sugar and orange zest and continue to mix until well incorporated. Then slowly add in the flour and cinnamon and mix until just combined. Scrape down the bowl to make sure everything is mixed well.
Once done, dump the dough onto a well-floured surface and roll into a ball. Cut the ball in quarters and wrap each quarter in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
As dough chills, make the caramel sauce. In a small pot add all the caramel sauce ingredients together and cook on low-medium heat until butter and sugar melt. Continue cooking and stirring with a whisk until sauce thickens and is pourable, about 5-7 minutes. When done, allow to cool to room temperature. However, the longer it sits, the thicker it will get.
To make the streusel, add all the ingredients in a bowl and use your fingers to break up the butter into the flour evenly. Continue blending until butter is the size of peas. Set aside.
To make the icing, stir the powdered sugar with the vanilla and heavy cream until combined and pourable to desired consistency.
Take one dough-ball out of fridge (leaving others chilled until ready to use) and on a well-floured surface, roll it out using a floured rolling pin. Roll it out to about 9 inches in diameter. Use a round object (a cheesecake pan works well) and outline a circle then use a knife to cut a perfect circle. Save scraps to roll out later.
Spread about 2 Tb of caramel sauce over your circle in a thin even layer. Then sprinkle about ¼ cup of caramelized nuts and ¼ cup raisins evenly. Use your hands to gently press down so nuts and raisins stick. Then cut circle into eights (a pizza butter works great here) and roll the rugelach by starting at the outer end of the triangle and roll in making a little crescent shape.
Place all rugelach end side down on parchment lined baking sheet and brush with egg wash. Then top each rugelach with streusel topping (it will be messy).
Bake at 350 degrees F for about 15-18 minutes until lightly golden brown.
Once done baking, drizzle more caramel sauce and icing on top. Allow to cool to room temperature.