Apples and honey are the traditional treat to celebrate the Rosh Hashana, in hopes that it will be a sweet New Year. Apples and agave or maple syrup have always provided this same sentiment just fine, but now I have something even better to kick off a new 365 days with. Rolling up a mixture of walnuts, apples, agave, and just a tiny touch of orange blossom water for that floral hint you’d find in honey, the standard buttery rugelach dough becomes a whole lot more special.
This dough is unique, because there’s absolutely no sugar in it. This helps to temper the sweetness of the filling, and it also prevents the cookies from browning much. It comes together very easily too. Cover the finished cookies in powdered sugar to serve, and you can feel confident that there will definitely be another sweet year in store! Recipe adapted from the original Rosh Hashanah Rugelah in Vegan Desserts: Sumptuous Sweets for Every Season by Hannah Kaminsky, photo and recipe reprinted with permission.
Makes about 2 dozen
- 1/2 cup vegan cream cheese
- 1/2 cup vegan buttery spread such as Earth Balance
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- Pinch of salt
- 1 cup dried apples, roughly chopped
- 1 cup apple cider
- 1/2 teaspoon orange blossom water (or plain water)
- 1/4 cup agave nectar
- 1/4 cup walnuts, finely chopped
Combine the cream cheese and buttery spread in a mixing bowl and cream together until smooth.
Add in the remaining dough ingredients. Mix until it comes together in a cohesive dough, being careful not to overwork it. Divide it into two pieces and wrap each up in plastic.
Let chill for at least two hours. Although it may seem like a long time, trust me, you don’t want to pull this dough out early. The large proportion of fat to flour makes it extremely finicky when it warms up, so just be patient!
Meanwhile, combine the dried apples, apple cider, and orange blossom water (or water) in a medium sauce pan. Allow this mixture to simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has been absorbed.
Let cool, and transfer it into your food processor or blender, and puree. Add in the agave and pulse to combine. Stir in the nuts by hand so that you don’t completely pulverize them in the machine.
When the dough is almost ready to come out of the fridge, preheat your oven to 350º F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silpats.
Take out one portion of the dough and turn it out onto a generously floured surface. Roll it out to between 1/8 and 1/4-inch in thickness, and try to keep it the shape of a long rectangle. Cut out long triangles, and spread a thin layer of the apple filling on each.
Starting with the widest end, roll the triangles up, and then pinch them into a slightly rounded crescent shape. Place each finished cookie on your prepared sheets, and repeat with the remaining dough. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, until lightly browned. Allow to cool completely before serving or storing.