Growing up Jewish in New York, rugelach were a regular nosh – ever-present beside platters of bagels, lox, and whitefish. Rugelach are traditionally filled with jam and/or nuts and raisins. As with Hamantashen, rugelach fillings stray from the classics and you can often find poppy seed, marzipan, or chocolate varieties. Honestly, I don’t care what the filling is; you could fill rugelach with thin air and I’d still be all over them like Pinterest users pinning Internet memes. But, since rugelach require a filling, I decided to make one with some chutzpah!
I filled these homemade rugelach with chocolate cheesecake in honor of Shavuot (I’ll explain that word in second) and wow, wow, wow! Given that rugelach dough often contains cream cheese, it’s not surprising that cheesecake and rugelach are a perfect pair! While I used chocolate cheesecake for the filling, you could play around with using any of your favorite cheesecake recipes. You’ll likely have to quarter your cheesecake recipe to use it since you’ll only need one cup of cheesecake batter for the rugelach.
What is Shavuot?
Even if you’re not Jewish, you have probably heard of Passover and Rosh Hashana – and it’s hard to avoid Chanukah. Shavuot is a lesser known, but very important holiday. Shavuot celebrates the day that the Jewish people received the Torah (the Hebrew Bible). On Shavuot, it is customary to eat dairy because (according to one opinion) once the Israelites were informed that there were dietary laws that they needed to learn, they chose to eat only dairy in order to have time to learn the laws of kosher slaughter.
Each year at the Passover Seder, Jews are asked to think of the exodus from Egypt as if we had personally been there. I do think about it, and I wonder what I would have done had I been there when Moses came down with the Torah. I’m typically of the rules-are-loose-guidelines camp; my crazy chocolate cheesecake rugelach should give you a clue that I don’t like to stick within a mold. I could imagine saying, “Come on guys, we can still eat meat, we’ll just learn the Kosher thing as we go. Surely, there is some wiggle room for the first couple of months.” But, I’d like to think that if I had just seen the Red Sea part and had dined on manna falling from the sky, I would have treated these rules with reverence and seen this learning period as a great opportunity: Shavuot is a fabulous excuse to eat cheesecake, chocolate cheesecake rugelach, or if, you prefer, lots of buttercream frosting!
If you are interested in learning more about Shavuot, check out NJOP’s Shavuot essentials. There is also a lot of information about Shavuot on Jewish Treats, the blog by the folks behind the Twitter account for all things Jewish (JewishTweets).
Chocolate Cheesecake Rugelach Recipe
There are two camps of rugelach recipes, yeast-based and cream cheese-based. The yeast-based rugelach are lighter and more flaky, while the cream cheese-based ones (my personal favorites) are heavy, buttery, and incredibly rich.
Where I differed from her was in my chocolate cheesecake filling. I’m including her recipe below in my own words, along with my my filling recipe.
This post was sponsored by NJOP (The National Jewish Outreach Program).