December has arrived with a vengeance here in Toronto. The relatively warm weather we’d been experiencing is gone and in its place we have the beginnings of winter. I don’t mind. I love the snow and the cold and how it makes us all want to run into the kitchen and bake.
December 1st, for me, usually signals the beginning of weeks of preparation for Christmas. I will wholeheartedly admit that I am a Christmas person. I love it all. The carols, the baking, too much family, the food, the shopping … I welcome it with open arms.
This year, however, things will be different. My impending trip means that I will miss much of the preparations for Christmas. I won’t be putting up the tree. I won’t be hanging the lights. And while I will be doing some baking, it won’t be nearly as much as I usually do.
And strangely enough, I’m okay with that.
Up until recently, the idea of relinquishing some of the control I like to exercise over these sorts of events would have seemed unimaginable to me. But lately I’ve been feeling that controlling the events isn’t nearly as much fun as experiencing them. So I’m letting go. And it feels really good.
And since I’m letting go, I’m going to share a very special cookie with you, in the hopes that since I won’t have chance to bake this cookie that often this month, you will. And it’s all part of my entry for the Festive Food Fair hosted by Anna of Morsels and Musings.
The original recipe comes from the 1995 issue of the Canadian Living Holiday Baking Magazine. Canadian Living is a food and lifestyle magazine that is uniquely Canadian. While I can’t say I read the publication on a regular basis, I do look forward to the holiday issue. In the 1995 issue, I came across a recipe for Apricot Crescents, or as they are often referred to, Rugalahs or Rugelach. The dough for these pastries is made with cream cheese, butter, sugar and flour. The pastries are typically filled with jam, nuts and sometimes raisins. I like to use apricot jam and a mixture of finely ground walnuts, cinnamon and sugar. Once baked, these pastries are incredibly flaky and the filling of jam and nuts is delicious.
This is one of my most treasured recipes. I hope it brings you much goodness this holiday season.
Apricot Walnut Crescents
Adapted from the 1995 issue of Canadian Living Holiday Baking.
- 1 pckg. (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 2-1/2 tbsp. sugar
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 egg, beaten
- coarse sugar (for garnish)
- In an electric mixer, with the paddle attachment, cream together the cream cheese and butter, on medium speed, until smooth.
- Add the sugar and flour and mix until a dough forms.
- Scoop the dough onto a floured surface and work briefly with your hands until it forms a ball of dough.
- Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces. Refrigerate for an hour.
For the filling:
- 1 cup walnuts, finely ground
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 1 cup apricot jam (or any other jam of your choice)
- 1 to 2 tbsp. hot water
- In a bowl, combine the walnuts, sugar, brown sugar and cinnamon. Set aside.
- In another bowl, combine the jam and the hot water and stir to loosen the jam.
To assemble the crescents:
- Remove a ball of dough from the refrigerator.
- On a well-floured surface, roll the dough into a 10 to 12-inch circle. Don’t roll it too thin.
- Spread 1/4 of the jam over the circle of dough. Sprinkle 1/4 of the walnut/sugar mixture over the jam.
- With a sharp knife, divide the circle into 12 wedges.
- Starting from the outside edge, roll each wedge up towards the centre, forming a crescent.
- Place each crescent on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Repeat with the other 3 balls of dough. In total you should have 48 crescents.
- Refrigerate the crescents for 20 minutes. While they’re in the fridge, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- After 20 minutes, brush the crescents with the egg and sprinkle with coarse sugar.
- Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the crescents are golden. Don’t worry if some of the filling oozes out.
Note: These cookies are also my entry for Anna of Morsel and Musings‘ event: Festive Food Fair. Anna very kindly invited me to participate by blogging about festive food that we like to serve during the holiday season. These rugalahs would definitely qualify. Thank you, Anna, for the invitation!