Cream Cheese Cookies
Cookies with buttery and flaky layers made using only 3 simple ingredients: butter, flour and cream cheese.
I was always calling these cookies a cheat puff pastry cookies. They are richer than your regular puff pastry but have similar flaky layers. Massive bonus is quick prep time in comparison to your regular puff pastry.
There is no sugar in the dough so you can use it as a pastry for sweet or savoury fillings.
I think in Poland every baker has a version of this recipe. The base recipe is simple: only 3 ingredients (flour, butter, cream cheese) and the ratio is 1:1:1 - so you are adding same amount of each ingredient (by weight). I was convinced that this is Polish cheat puff pastry recipe. However, in other cuisines and countries you find this or very similar recipe branded as a quick and easy way to make rugelach.
Origins of rugelach are coming from Central Europe and this recipe has travelled around the world with Jewish community. In Italian cookbooks you will find egg yolk added to the recipe (cream cheese is then decreased by 25%). This is a good version for anybody who wants to form more elaborate shapes (closed envelopes, roses etc.). The pastry is slightly less flaky. In Hungarian and Russian cookbooks this recipe splits cream cheese weight between cream cheese and sour cream (sour cream to cream cheese is at 1:3 ratio; still keeping 1:1:1 ratio between flour/butter/sour cream&cream cheese) - this version gives nice flaky layers but is that little bit heavier.
Whatever origins you are going to assign to this cookie, one thing is sure - it’s an easy bake with delicious buttery and flaky outcome.
The version below is the original, base recipe. Don’t be tempted to add sugar to the recipe (sweet filling will make up for the lack of sugar in the pastry) or don’t be tempted to bake on salted butter (you won’t get the flaky texture) .
For a good bake here only 3 rules apply - incorporate cold butter into flour, refrigerate pastry for minimum one hour before shaping, place tray with shaped cookies in the freezer for 15 minutes before baking (or refrigerate for 30 minutes). All these steps will help creating extra flaky texture and will help keeping shape during baking.
Yield: 14 cookies
Time: 10 minutes prep + min 1 hour cooling + 20 min (shaping and cooling) + 20 min baking
Tin: baking tray or muffin tin (for rose shape)
- 1 and 1/3 cups* (200g) all-purpose flour
- 200g cream cheese
- 200g unsalted butter, cold and diced
+ filling of your choice (chocolate, seedless jam, chutney, any sour filling)
*cup= 250m cup
1 large egg mixed with 1 Tablespoon milk
1. Prepare the dough: Sift flour into large bowl. Using pastry cutter or food processor (few pulses) incorporate butter into flour until crumbly texture is achieved. If you don’t have both - incorporate butter with your fingers, then place mixture between your hands and make same move you make when your hands are cold (repeat that move until coarse, crumbly mixture is achieved - be quick at it as you don’t want to melt the butter). Add cream cheese (if you are using crumbly in texture white cheese you will need to give it few pulses in food processor to achieve smooth texture). Form the dough. Divide into 2 flat discs, wrap in cling film and refrigerate for at least 1 hour (and up to 1 day).
2. Shape: Transfer discs onto lightly floured work surface (you can sprinkle with up to 1/2 Tablespoon flour and knead for few seconds if dough is too sticky) and roll out each disc 1-2mm thin, then roll into shapes required - see pictures. Place baking tray in the freezer for 15 minutes or 30 minutes in the fridge. In that time preheat the oven to 180C. Apply egg wash just before baking.
3. Bake at 180C for 20-22 minutes until golden in colour. Cool for 10 minutes before serving.