Chocolate Rugelach may appear intricate and intimidating, but today I’m breaking down all of the steps to show you how easy these buttery, flaky, chocolate-filled cookies are to make at home (even if you’re a novice baker!)! This is a rich and very manageable pastry dough filled with decadent chocolate. Recipe includes a detailed step-by-step video, too!
From Greek baklava to Latin American alfajores, Italian pizzelle and now today’s Polish/Jewish chocolate rugelach, we really are making our way through a number of different cultures with our cookies this holiday season, aren’t we? While my Christmas cookie tray always starts off with a batch of my favorite sugar cookies, it’s fun to try something different, especially when the results are as remarkably delicious as today’s are.
Perhaps you’ve had rugelach before? They’re oh-so buttery, flaky, and cookies (though technically perhaps they’re a pastry?).
Traditionally they’re made with a nut and raisin interior, but today I’m doing a rich chocolatey twist that I think you’re going to love. Let’s get to it!
What You Need
The dough that we’re using today is not your basic pastry dough. It’s enriched with three different kinds of fat…
- Butter. This is the first of many fats that we’ll be using in our chocolate rugelach dough. Use two sticks of unsalted and you want them to be very, very cold! Stick them in the freezer for a bit before you begin for even flakier rugelach.
- Sour cream. Another fat! I use this secret ingredient in my famous pie crust (well, it’s famous in my family, anyway). It gives a light and flaky results.
- Cream cheese. The final fat in our dough. This should also be as cold as possible (though I never freeze this like I do the butter).
- In addition, of course we need flour (all-purpose only, please), sugar, and salt.
Many recipes use only butter or sour cream but I found a blend of the two gives us the best flavor and texture. It’s an easy-to-work-with pastry dough that bakes into flaky, buttery, flavorful cookies/rugelach. Then there’s the filling…
Chocolate rugelach filling is made of just three ingredients:
- Melted semisweet chocolate. Chocolate bars are best, but chocolate chips work, too.
- Sugar. I like to use brown sugar (better flavor!), but you can substitute granulated if needed.
- Ground cinnamon. This is optional but I love the flavor it adds (I use it in my chocolate rolls, too).
- Salt. Just a pinch to make the flavor shine!
I know a raisin filling is traditional… but chocolate filling trumps raisin any day of the week in my book.
How to Make Chocolate Rugelach
The numbered photos above correspond with the numbered steps below. I use a food processor to make my dough, but see the FAQ section a bit further down if you don’t have one.
- Pulse together your dry ingredients and then add all of that rich fat. Butter and cream cheese should be very cold and cut into pieces. The sour cream should be cold as well.
- Pulse until the dough is well blended but there should still be chocolate chip-sized pieces of butter and cream cheese remaining in the dough. Don’t over-do it, the dough will look piece-y and crumbly but if you press it together it should cling to itself and hold together.
- Pour the dough (yes, it’ll seem super crumbly/pebbly, that’s normal!) onto a clean surface and then divide into 4 even parts and form each into a disk. Chill for at least one hour.
- Working with one disk at a time, roll into a 10″ circle.
Of course, chocolate rugelach would not be complete without chocolate filling….
- Melt your chocolate and mix in sugar and cinnamon. The mixture will look a bit gritty, that’s fine (it won’t be gritty after baking as the sugar will melt). Spread a thin layer of chocolate evenly over the dough, leaving space around the perimeter.
- Use a pizza cutter or knife to cut the dough into 16 even slices.
- Working quickly, roll each wedge from the larger end to the point to form your chocolate rugelach. The chocolate will start to harden as soon as you cut the dough, work fast so you can roll it before the dough is
I recommend you brush each of the rugelach with egg wash and sprinkle with coarse sugar before baking, but that’s optional.
Tip: Get festive! Instead of topping with coarse sugar, sprinkle the top of the rugelach with colorful nonpareils instead!
Frequently Asked Questions
Absolutely. You can use a pastry cutter to cut the butter and cream cheese into the flour mixture, and then stir in the sour cream.
Yes! Classic rugelach is made with sugar, walnuts, and raisins that have been pulverized in a food processor and you can use that instead. Jam, ground nuts, and Nutella are all possible filling variations you can try.
Store rugelach at room temperature for up to 5 days. Storing in an airtight container tends to make the cookies a bit soft so I leave mine uncovered, but that’s a personal preference. They may also be frozen after baking (do store in an airtight container if doing this) for several months.
Yes. You can freeze the disks of dough for several months (thaw overnight in the refrigerator before using). Alternatively you can assemble the rugelach as instructed but without the egg wash and sugar/sprinkles. Freeze in an airtight container until ready to bake then brush with egg wash and sprinkle if desired and bake from frozen. They will need several minutes longer in the oven when baked from frozen.
Yes! Simply cut fewer wedges out of your dough and you’ll have larger rugelach. You will need to bake for longer if you do this.
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Let’s bake together! Make sure to check out the how-to VIDEO in the recipe card!
- 8 oz semisweet chocolate¹ (226g)
- ¼ cup brown sugar (50g)
- ¼ -½ teaspoon ground cinnamon optional, I usually use ¼ teaspoon but add more for a stronger taste
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- 1 egg (any size)
- 1 teaspoon water
- Coarse sugar or nonpareil sprinkles for decorating, optional but recommended
- Combine flour, sugar, and salt in the basin of a food processor² (see note if you don't have a food processor) and pulse to combine.
- Sprinkle butter and cream cheese pieces over the top, add sour cream, and and pulse just into butter and cream cheese are cut into the dough. The mixture should still be quite crumbly and you will have chocolate chip-sized pieces of butter and cream cheese remaining. This is normal, don’t over-work your dough (see post or video for visual, if needed)!
- Transfer dough to a clean surface and work the crumbs together gently (don’t over-handle or the warmth of your hands will start to melt the butter) to form a log.
- Divide into 4 equal portions, flatten each into a disk that’s ½-1” thick. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour and up to 5 days.
- When dough has chilled, preheat oven to 350F (175C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside and prepare your chocolate filling
- Chocolate Filling
- Chop or break chocolate bar into small pieces and heat in the microwave in 20-second intervals, stirring in between, until completely melted.
- Add brown sugar, ground cinnamon, and salt and stir until combined. Mixture will appear grainy, this is normal (the "grain" from the sugar will disappear when the rugelach bakes) Set aside.
- Working with one disk at a time, remove one round of dough from the fridge and transfer to a clean, lightly floured surface. Roll into a 10” circle and immediately spread ¼ of the chocolate mixture in a thin layer over the circle.
- Use a pizza cutter or knife to cut the dough into 16 even wedges (I cut mine just like I’m cutting a pizza).
- Starting from the larger side, roll one wedge over itself to form the rugelach and transfer to prepared baking sheet. Work quickly to roll each of the wedges as the chocolate will begin to harden fast and will make it difficult for you. However, even if the chocolate begins to solidify it should have been spread thinly enough that it should easily break as you roll and the rugelach should still look nice!
- Space cookies at least 2” apart on baking sheet.
- Prepare egg wash by whisking together egg with one teaspoon of water. Use a pastry brush to gently brush each cookie then sprinkle with coarse sugar or nonpareils.
- Transfer to 350F (175C) preheated oven and bake in the center rack for 25 minutes or until golden brown.
- Allow to cool completely on baking sheet before enjoying.