I am Filipina American and I married a Jew. My husband Miki and I have committed to creating a Jewish household that feels culturally balanced. But I quickly learned that it’s not easy. Identity is a long and winding, self-guided journey. Born in LA and growing up in Jersey with immigrant parents, the pursuit of my identity was very passive. I didn’t feel like I needed to speak the language nor know how to cook my mom’s food. As an adult, I now feel the responsibility to honor my culture so that it will not get lost with me and in the next generation with our children. I know the definition of what it means to be Filipina-American-Jewish is mine and my family’s to hold, discover, and explore. What better way to express the love for our combined culture than through food?
Ube has always been the cornerstone of my favorite Filipinx desserts — from ube ice cream to ube cake rolls. You can taste subtle sweet hints of vanilla and a touch of nuttiness. I’ve always enjoyed flakey, buttery rugelach —especially all of the filling variations — and I’m happy to add my own variation to the mix. Here’s my take on rugelach.
- 1.5 cups all purpose flour
- 1 stick butter, cold
- 4 ounces cream cheese, cold
- 1 tsp ube extract
- zest of 1 lemon
- 1 13.5 ounce can coconut milk
- ½ cup light brown sugar
- 1 cup sweetened, grated coconut
- In a food processor, add flour, butter, cream cheese, ube extract, and zest. Pulse until the mixture releases from the sides and forms a ball of dough.
- Divide dough in half and flatten to thick discs. Wrap dough in plastic wrap or place in an airtight container. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
- Make the filling. In a small saucepan on medium heat, add coconut milk and brown sugar. Simmer, whisking vigorously until the mixture turns a shade darker, about 8-10 minutes.
- Remove pan from heat and stir in grated coconut. Set aside to cool and thicken.
- Preheat the oven at 350 degrees F.
- Remove dough from the fridge and turn over onto a clean, lightly floured surface. Roll the first half of dough into a circle, about ⅓ inch thick.
- Spread a thin layer of the cooled filling evenly onto the dough. Use any leftover coconut filling for more rugelach or toast!
- With a pizza cutter or knife, cut dough into 8 slices as if you are cutting a pizza. Repeat with the remaining half of the dough.
- Starting from the widest base of each triangle, roll dough to form a crescent.
- Place rugelach onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. No need to space the dough since they will not spread much while baking.
- Bake for about 20-25 minutes. Cool completely before serving. Enjoy!