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 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (plus extra for dusting work surface)
- 1 stick (8 Tbsp) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 4 ounces cold cream cheese, cut into small pieces
- 1 tsp ube extract
- zest of 1 lemon
- 1/2 cup coconut milk
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup sweetened coconut flakes
- 1 large egg beaten with 1 Tbsp water
- granulated sugar, for sprinkling
- Make the dough: Place the flour, butter, cream cheese, ube extract and lemon zest in a food processor. Pulse till the mixture releases from the sides and forms a ball.
- Make the filling: In a small saucepan on medium heat, bring the coconut milk and brown sugar to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, whisking vigorously, for 10 minutes.
- Remove from heat and stir in coconut. Let cool completely (you can place in fridge to speed up process)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Remove one dough disc from the fridge and turn onto a lightly floured surface. Roll into a circle about ⅓ inch thick. Spread half the cooled filling evenly over.
- With a pizza cutter or knife, cut into 8 slices as if you are cutting a pizza. Starting from the widest base of each triangle, roll dough to form a crescent and place onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling.
- Brush the tops with egg wash and sprinkle with granulated sugar.
- Bake for about 20-25 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before serving.