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The Gift of Change

Cinnamon-Nut Rugelach

Find Changes (and Cookies) to Celebrate This Holiday Season

As we close out 2020 and look forward to an engaged, productive, and happy 2021, let’s be mindful of how we can create a sense of inspiration and positivity this December.

The holidays will be different this year in our home. Yes, we will still put up the Christmas tree and light the menorah, but we probably won’t have the issue of being invited to endless parties from Thanksgiving to New Year’s, and everything might be more scaled back. So, how can I still make the holidays merry and bright? Is it OK to be happy and celebrate in the face of so much unrest and pain?

Let’s celebrate the season instead of just one holiday. Open yourself to learning about another amazing December holiday, like Bodhi Day, Krampusnacht, Hanukkah, Posadas Navidenas, Yule, Yalda, Fiesta of Our Lady of Guadalupe, St Nicholas’ Eve/Sinterklaas, Boxing Day, Hogmanay, Dōngzhì Festival, Kwanzaa, Omisoka, Soyal, and others, and maybe add one of those traditions to your own.

Many friends during this unique time have looked to their inner selves and found new hobbies, such as rock painting, shell collection, trail walking, girl trekking, hiking, e-biking, and others. I love that we have found the gift of self-time or downtime again. Finding the 2.0 of you is an amazing gift.

We have also changed how we give to nonprofits. Some people have increased their giving dollars, understanding the need is greater than ever. People who can’t donate financially have found ways to safely donate their time through volunteer hours, holding food and clothing drives, or assisting with community publications like Connections – all are wonderful ways to develop another side of yourself.

So, what are the December holidays all about? Humanity, which is by definition “the quality or state of being kind to other people or to animals.” So be kind to yourself, be kind to each other and your fur babies, and may you continue to gift and discover amazing things this holiday season.

And if you’re looking for a sweet homemade gift this holiday season, consider making these cinnamon-nut rugelach cookies.

Cinnamon-Nut Rugelach

For the dough:

  • 2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling

For the filling:

  • 1 cup walnut halves, finely chopped
  • ½ cup pecan halves, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup apricot jam

For baking:

  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 teaspoon water)

Prep Time: 45 minutes, plus chilling
Cook Time: 35 minutes

Preheat oven to 350°.

To make the dough: In a stand mixer (or in a large bowl using a handheld electric mixer), beat together the butter, cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, and salt on medium speed until smooth and creamy, about two minutes. Slowly add the flour, beating on low until just incorporated and scraping down sides of the bowl as necessary until forming a soft dough. Knead the dough a few times in the bowl, then divide and form into two round discs. Wrap both discs in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least two hours or up to one day.

To make the filling: In a medium bowl, stir together the walnuts, pecans, brown sugar, and cinnamon.

Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.

Remove one refrigerated dough disc. On a lightly floured surface, roll it into a large round 1/8 inch thick. Using a ruler as a guide, trim the dough into a 12-inch diameter disc. Spread half the apricot jam evenly over the disc, leaving a ½ inch border around the edges. Sprinkle with half the cinnamon-nut filling and gently press the filling into the dough.

Using a pizza cutter or sharp knife, cut the dough into 4 equal wedges, then cut each wedge into 4 wedges (you’ll end up with 16 wedges). Starting from the wider end, roll each wedge up to the point. Place cookies on the prepared baking sheets. Repeat with the remaining dough disc and remaining jam and filling.

In a small bowl, stir together sugar and cinnamon. Brush the top of each cookie with egg wash and sprinkle with the cinnamon-sugar mixture.

Bake the cookies until deep golden brown and the tops are crisp like a croissant, rotating the pans front to back halfway through, 30-35 minutes. Immediately transfer cookies to wire racks to cool.

Makes 32 cookies.

Photo by Kimberly Kapustein. 

As published in December 2020 Connections >>