On the First Day of Cookiemas My True Love Gave to Me: Rugelach, of course

Don't let anyone tell you differently, it's the reason for the season.  That's right, baking cookies is the heart and soul of the holidays.  Let the floured hijinks of Cookiemas begin!

And as today is the first day (o.k., night) of Hanukkah, the first cookie on the first day of Cookiemas shall be rugelach.

Strawberry-Pistachio Rugelach

(Makes 36)

2 packages (1 pound) cream cheese
1 pound unsalted, room temperature butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 tablespoon milk
4 cups AP flour


-Cream together cream cheese, butter, sugar and salt until creamy.  Add salt, vanilla and milk.  Mix until incorporated.

-Slowly add all flour until just incorporated. Don't overwork the dough.

-Using your hands turn the dough out onto a floured surface and lightly knead until smooth.

-Divide the dough into three even pieces (if you're going to be exact, each round will weight 1pound 1 ounce).

-Pat each piece of dough into a circle and cover with plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for an hour.

-Roll the dough on a lightly floured surface into a 12 inch circle.

-Score the dough into 12 pieces.  Don't cut through just yet, you'll find that unless you have a pie marker, you won't be as good at this as you'd like.  Your pieces will be uneven and you'll be able to make corrections once you start cutting.

-At this stage, you can smear a light layer of jam (I used strawberry) over the entirety of the dough before cutting.  However, I like a variety of flavors.  Nutella, for instance.  Who doesn't want to shove Nutella into everything they can?  So at this stage, I cut the little triangles like a pizza pie and divide the triangles into a jammy schmear pile and a Nutella schmear pile.

-Using a small offset spatula, gently cover each triangle with a light coating of jam (or Nutella) and sprinkle with ground nuts for added texture and flavor.

-Roll each triangle of dough, starting at the wider end, into a crescent.

-Brush the rugelach with a light coating of milk and sprinkle with sanding sugar.

-Bake at 350┬║ for 20 minutes or until golden brown.  Happy Hanukkah!!!

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