Sunday, 15 February 2009

Chocolate Rugelach

Its Carnevale in Italy; the two weeks celebration period that take place prior to Ash Wednesday and the somber lent period. A Valentines Day Latino Fiesta, for which I prepared the not so Latino Rugelach posed a challenge: carrying baked goods while simultaneously attempting to walk in high heels on the uneven, confetti clad, cobbled streets of Parma is not as easy at it sounds.
But I think I found the best way to celebrate this holiday; communally!

The communal celebration of love took place on a sunny, Saturday afternoon, sipping on rather strong Mojitos, while enjoying fried plantains, nachos, Torta de Patatas, hand made fajitas, Carnitas, guacamole and Frijoles (fried in pork lard, there is no escaping this stuff!!!), chocolate tart and pumpkin flan, celebrating love of, in and through food. The Latino connection to the Ashkenazi Jewish pastry may seem random, but had it not been for the discovery of the cocoa beans, this bundle of comfort and joy would not have reached its mythological stature. I prepared the traditional, chocolate filled, sugar glazed, moist and chewy version, like the ones I buy on a Friday morning, hoping they'd last the entire weekend this time, but instead are devoured while reading the weekend papers.
The Rugelach had translated better than I had expected. Outside of their permanent and fixed perception as boring, traditional pastry they were experienced by an unbiased audience for what they are: good!

Chocolate* Rugelach (Oren Giron's translated recipe)
(Makes about 50)

For the dough
500g Sifted White flour
1/2Tsp Salt
40g Fresh yeast
1/2 cup Sugar
2 Eggs
2/3 cup Luke warm milk
100g Butter at room temperature

For the filling
150g Butter
1 cup Fine cocoa powder
1 cup Demarera sugar
1 Tsp Cinnamon

For the glazing
1 1/2 cups Sugar
2/3 cups Water

In a large bowl, combine the flour and the salt. Mix in the yeast. Mix in the sugar and eggs. Pour in the milk slowly allowing the flour to absorb the liquids. Knead for 5 minutes. Add the butter and knead for a further 3 minutes. The dough should be smooth, shiny and soft. Transfer into a large bowl, cover with cling film and put in the fridge overnight. This allows the dough to rise and expand slowly without drying out.

The next day

melt the butter. Mix in the cocoa powder, sugar and cinnamon. Allow to cool until it hardens to a paste consistency, for easy application.

Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Remove the dough from the fridge and cut into quarters. Roll out and flatten one quarter of the dough to a 50x20cm rectangle.
Wrap and refrigerate the remaining quarters, as this dough is easier to manipulate when cold.
Spread a quarter of the filling on the dough rectangle. Cut into long and narrow triangles. Roll each triangle (not too tight), and place in a tray with the end tucked underneath, protecting it from opening during baking.
Leave to proof until double in size.
Bake for 12 minutes.
Repeat with the remaining 3/4 of the dough.

Once all of the Rugelach have cooled prepare the sugar glazing by bringing the sugar and water to a boil. Glaze the rugelach using a brush.
They are best eaten on the day of baking.
They will keep for several days in an airtight container, or cover with foil and freeze until ready to have with coffee.

* I suspect Nutella, chestnut puree or a winter spice mix would make good fillings, though I have yet attempted them.

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