Friday, December 5, 2014

raspberry almond rugelach bars + baking chez moi...

I have to admit something. When it comes to certain traditional dough recipes, like rugelach cookies, I'm pretty lazy. Remember these beauts? I mean really, can't get easier than that folks. Shortcuts are sometimes (a lot of time) the way I like to go. Now don't get me wrong, they were phenomenal and did the deed they needed to do, but they were by no means a traditional rugelach cookie. 

So when I was offered the opportunity to transform Dorie Greenspan's "Rugelach That Won France Over" recipe into my own thing...I was nervous and challenged to say the least. Now I had to make the traditional dough! Not just any dough either, a rugelach dough that freaking "won France over"?!? Great. No pressure there! How many ways will I mess this one up?? Poor Dorie is going to have to come looking for me after this baby. Hey, self doubt totally happens :)

Not wanting to be more of a baby than I really truthfully am (suck it up, Christina. Put your game face on! You can doooo this!) I found my big girl pants and accepted the challenge. Because challenges are, as you know, really really cool. Haha. What am I saying? 

Anyway, after the initial self doubt started to subside, I actually became SUPER excited for this: make Dorie's famous rugelach dough, incorporate the ever amazing Driscoll's raspberries (I chose organic of course) into it and create whatever the heck my baking brain came up with! Time to push my baking creativity to its limit. This was actually pretty darn neat. 

PS- Would you take a look at that baby bump?? Goodness gracious Baby Main is a growing boy! I sort of laugh at this picture because this night I was feeling "kind of large". HA! You should see me now. 

I decided to take the cookie dough and make it into a bar. Kind of totally stray away from the whole cookie thing whatsoever. The neat thing about Dorie's dough is that it's completely unsweetened, so it is a great neutral base or blank canvas for so many yummy ideas and ingredients! 

Like my brown sugar raspberry jam. Being a bit on the sweeter side, I thought it would pair really nicely with the rugelach's flaky dough. Also, I wanted the dough's tartness from that cream cheese, to cut through the deep brown sugar cooked fruit flavors of the fresh made jam. 

The flavor combination was a match made in heaven. The Driscoll's raspberries were super ripe and bursting with flavor, so when cooked down with that warm brown sugar- only amplified their sweetness. 

The fresh made jam was then spread onto Dorie's cream cheese rugelach dough, which was made into a bottom crust. More dough was crumbled over the top, and the whole thing was sprinkled with sliced almonds and pure cane sugar before baking in the oven. 

Almonds and raspberries are indeed the perfect combo. It's been proven. 

I really hope you guys will give this recipe a try! The title of Dorie's recipe doesn't lie; I can totally see how it won France over :) It's simple, easy to make and oh so yummy. 

Makes about 18, 1.5x1.5" bars
For printable recipe, click here

For the fresh brown sugar raspberry jam:
  • 12oz fresh organic Driscoll's raspberries, washed and thoroughly dried
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/2 the skin of one semi-tart apple, like Pink Lady, Gala, or Piñata 
  • 1/3 cup semi-sweet apple chunks
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • small pinch sea salt

For the rugelach dough:
  • 4oz cold full fat cream cheese
  • 1 stick (4oz) cold unsalted butter
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Also needed:
  • 1/2 cup sliced raw almonds
  • 1 tablespoon granulated pure cane sugar

To make the fresh brown sugar raspberry jam:
1. If you do not have a candy thermometer, place a salad or dessert plate in the freezer for a plate test to test when jam is done. 

2. In a medium non-reactive sauce pot, add your raspberries, brown sugar, water, apple skin, apple chunks, lemon juice, and sea salt. Mix well with a wooden spoon. 

3. Bring mixture to a gentle boil over medium-high heat. Once boiling, turn heat down until you have a gentle steady simmer. Insert your candy thermometer, if using. Allow mixture to cook, until candy thermometer reaches 220°F, stirring every five minutes with wooden spoon to prevent scorching on the bottom of your pan.

**If you are doing the plate test, at about 20-30 minutes in, test your jam. Remove plate from freezer, dollop a few tablespoons of jam into center and allow to sit 5 minutes. Then tilt plate upright. If it slowly drips down your plate or not at all, you're there! If it quickly slides down, cook longer. 

**As moisture starts to cook off, you will need to lower your flame in order to keep a gentle simmer AND will need to stir more frequently, to protect bottom from burning. 

4. Once jam is thick, turn heat off and purée. The easiest way for me is using a stick blender. If you do not have one, carefully pour jam into a blender or food processor and purée away. At this point you can strain any seeds out by pressing jam through a fine mesh strainer. We don't mind seeds at all and I hate washing more dishes than I have to, so we left the seeds as is. Pour back into pot and test again using the plate test or your candy thermometer- once it reaches 220°F or it stays put on your plate, it's done. 

5. Pour jam into a bowl and set aside.

Jam can be made days in advance. Just store in the fridge.

To make the rugelach dough and bars:
1. Preheat the oven to 375°F and place oven racks in the center of your oven. Take out cream cheese and butter 10 minutes before you're ready to make dough and cut into chunks. You'll want them to be very slightly softened but still cool.

2. Get out a glass 8x8" baking dish and spray the bottom and sides lightly. Line bottom and up 2 sides with a long sheet of parchment paper so that you have an overhang on those two sides. This will help in removing the bars once they're done. Lightly spray paper and set aside. 

3. Into a food processor, add the flour and salt. Pulse a few times to combine. Next, add in your cream cheese and butter and pulse until the flour coats all of the chunks. Continue to pulse, stopping to scrape down sides of bowl, until the dough forms curds. Stop at the curd stage- you do not want dough to form a ball. 

Dough can be refrigerated up to one day in advance.

4. Once it reaches the curd stage, pour 1/2 the dough into your prepared baking dish and press out flat with finger tips. You're looking to fill the bottom and corners of your pan and create a nice even bottom crust. Set pan in the oven to chill dough for 10 minutes. Also set your other half of dough in the fridge as well to chill. I just placed the entire processor bowl right in there.

5. Once dough has chilled, spoon 1/2 cup of your cooled fresh brown sugar raspberry jam over the bottom crust and spread out evenly. The remainder of the jam can be stored in an air tight container in the fridge for weeks :)

6. Top with remaining 1/2 of chilled dough, spreading out evenly and then gently pressing down. 

7. Finally, top entire thing with the 1/2 cup of sliced almonds and tablespoon of sugar. 

8. Place bars in the center of your oven and bake 35-40 minutes, turning pan half way to ensure even cooking and browning. Bars are done when they are golden brown around edges and sides and almonds are toasted. Don't be alarmed if your bars seem a tad jiggly- they will set up as they cool. 

9. Allow bars to cool to the touch on a rack on your kitchen counter before placing in your refrigerator to chill COMPLETELY. They must be completely cold before trying to cut into bars. Once completely cooled, remove bars from pan using the parchment overhang. Place on a cutting board and cut bars as big or small as you like. I liked mine at about 1.5x1.5"- the perfect little finger food sized dessert. 

Dough recipe courtesy of Dorie Greenspan 

Tart and sweet, bursting with raspberry flavor, crispy and flakey crust, these rugelach bars using Dorie Greenspan's dough recipe are the perfect coffee or tea accompaniment. 
*I was provided with a free sample of this cookbook to review. I was also provided the means to purchase Driscoll's raspberries. I was under no obligation to write a positive review. All recipe pictures, opinions, and the recipe itself (with the exception of Dorie Greenspan's rugelach dough) are my own. 


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