Monday, December 06, 2010

Gluten-Free Vegan Rugelach

A gluten-free diet can present its own set of hurdles. But to be gluten-free and dairy-free? Those folks have it rough. I feel for them. And when I feel for someone, generally I want to bake for them as well.

These rugelach are admittedly something of cheat. I realized I had no hope of adapting my favored sour-cream-and-butter rugelach dough, and futzed around a bit with the alternatives. Sure, I could use some soy-based sour cream, but those tend to have a weird soy flavor I'm not really down with, overpowering any of the nicely cultured tang they contribute. So instead I looked towards vegan/gf pie crust instead, to capture rugelach's essential flaky delicacy. I took a stellar gf vegan crust recipe and tweaked it according to my own tastes (and, to be frank, the particular mix of gluten-free flours that I happened to have in my pantry and a slight misreading of one section), and then slathered it with my favorite rugelach filling of apricot jam, walnuts, and liberal shaking of cinnamon and sugar (this was added to the filling, rolled into the dough itself, and for the sake of overkill, sprinkled on the finished rugelach before they hit the oven). The resulting cookies did not disappoint.

These rugelach will win anyone over, regardless of their dietary restrictions. They're flaky and delicate, and easily capture the European-tea-cookie soul of the recipe. The tender crust wraps around the sweet-but-not-too-sweet filling, creating a something like a tiny tart. The jam may leak out a bit and make a mess (as it does in the buttery, wheaty original--parchment or silpats are especially nice here), but becomes deliciously caramelized to give the cookies a sophisticated edge. Sadly it's my final Hanukkah present to you, but it's a pretty sweet parting gift.

Gluten-free and Dairy-free Rugelach

dough inspired by Gluten-Free Girl's piecrust (albeit adapted heavily), filling inspired from my childhood rugelach memories
yields 32 small cookies

Although it's gluten-free, this dough is fairly forgiving. The only bit of fuss is that it is a bit soft and sticky (which might also have something to do with the copious amount of fat involved), so rolling it out between parchment paper or plastic wrap (or, if you're me and have run out of the former, a cut-open plastic bag) is something of a necessity. And, as with most gf recipes, if you've the means to do it, it's best to go with the weights rather than the volume measurements.

scant 1/2 cup (2 oz) cornstarch
2/3 cup (2 oz) garbanzo bean flour (this will have a weirdly beany taste in the dough, but will bake off in the finished product -- you can swap out sorghum if desired)
1/3 cup (2 oz) potato starch
1/2 cup (3 oz) rice flour
1 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp sugar
1/2 cup (aka 4 oz, aka 1 stick) non-hydrogenated (need I say it?) shortening, such as palm shortening, cut into several pieces
1/4 (aka 2 oz, aka 1/2 stick) cup non-dairy margarine (or use all shortening), cut into several pieces
~1/4 cup - 1/3 cup cold water, as needed

2/3 cup apricot jam
2/3 cup walnuts, chopped into fairly small bits
2 Tbsp sugar mixed with 1 tsp cinnamon

In a food processor or large bowl, mix together the cornstarch, bean flour, potato starch, rice flour, xanthan gum, salt and sugar (aka all the dries). Cut or pulse in the shortening and margarine until the largest bits are about the size of rolled oats -- don't overmix! If you're using a food processor, turn the mixture out into a bowl at this point. Add the cold water, bit by bit, mixing it around with your hands, until the mixture is moist enough that it comes together easily when you pinch it. Turn the dough over a time or two (aka knead very lightly), just until the elements are dispersed evenly and the dough coheres. Underkneading is better than overkneading. Divide the dough in two, and shape each bit into a chubby disk. Cover with plastic wrap or parchment (or tuck into a plastic bag, and refrigerate at least 1 hour.

When your dough has chilled, preheat your oven to 350. Line two cookie sheets with parchment or silpat liners.

Take out 1 disk of dough, leaving the other in the refrigerator. Lay out a sheet of parchment or plastic wrap, and sprinkle it lightly with the cinnamon sugar mixture (use ~1 tsp total). Place the dough on top, and sprinkle with additional cinnamon sugar. Top with another sheet of parchment or plastic, and roll out between the two until you have a circle that's ~11 inches in diameter. Spread the dough with half of the jam, sprinkle on half the walnuts, then sprinkle with a teaspoon cinnamon sugar.

Now comes the cutting and rolling! Taking a chef's knife or pizza cutter, divide the dough into 16 equal sections (just cut in half, then quarters, then eights, etc.), taking care not to slice up your countertop. Starting at the wide outer edge, roll each section towards the center to form an adorable little roll (you may need to lift the parchment/plastic to guide the cookie, so that it rolls without breaking at first). Place each cookie on the prepared sheet, making sure that the end is pinned underneath so that it doesn't unroll. When you've shaped all the cookies, sprinkle an additional teaspoon full of sugar over the tops of the cookies (that's ~1 teaspoon for the whole tray, not 1 per cookie). Place the tray in the freezer, and repeat the process with the remaining disk of dough.

After the dough has chilled for ~15-20 minutes (about how long it takes to roll, fill and shape the next batch), take the cookie sheet from the freezer and place it in the oven (and place your second sheet in the freezer for the same amount of time). Bake until the filling is bubbling and the crust has lightly colored, ~30 minutes (if the spilled jam is darkening too much at the base, move the sheet to a higher oven rack). Let sit on the cookie sheet for a minute or two, then move to a rack to cool completely. These are best devoured the day they're made, or stored in the freezer.


  1. OMG. I want to make this right now!!! Pre celiac, Rugelach was my absolute favorite!

  2. these look amazing. Thanks for the recipe!