These healthy rugelach are a the perfect after school snack. Naturally sweetened with apples and dates, they are delicious and sugar-free! My kids love them so much, that I always have lots of volunteers to help with fillings and rolling the crescents.
Gluten free and Sugar Free options
I typically make sugar free rugelach; however, they are fairly different from their sweet pastry counterparts. Skipping the sugar altogether will result in a more savoury than sweet snack. It is absolutely delicious, it just might not be what you expect. If you want to sweeten your healthy rugelach after baking, sprinkle it with icing sugar before serving.
This recipe is designed for gluten free flours. To get a nice smooth dough with gluten free flour, I recommend presoaking and prefermenting for at least 2 hours. It really improves both the flavour and texture of the baked good.
- The rugelach are formed by rolling 1/3 of the dough out into a circle around 10″ in diameter and 1/4″ thick.
- Spread a thin layer of cream cheese across the circle, then sprinkled with 1/3 of the filling.
- Cut the circle in quarters. Then cut each of the quarters, either in half for 24 rugelach or into thirds for 36 rugelach.
- Forming the rugelach is a bit tricky at first. I usually start by folding the fat end of the triangle over once, then pushing the top point of the triangle over top of the fat end.
- 1 cup of butter
- 1 cup of cream cheese
- Zest from 1 orange
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 eggs
- 2¼ cup of flour (see notes)
- ½ cup cream cheese
- 4 apples, grated
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- ¼ cup finely chopped dates
- 1 tbsp cinnamon
- 1 cup of walnuts toasted and chopped
- Cream the butter and the cream cheese together until smooth and soft. Add in the orange zest, and eggs, and beat until well combined. Mix in the flour until a dough is formed. This may require a bit of kneading.
- If pre-fermenting, leave the dough to rest at room temperature for 2-6 hours. See notes for more details on fermenting the dough.
- To make the filling, mix the grated apple with the lemon juice, cinnamon and ground dates. Then stir in the walnuts.
- To form the rugelach, divide the dough into three balls. Roll one ball out into a large circle, it should be about ¼" thick.
- Spread a layer of cream cheese over the circle, then sprinkle on ⅓ of the filling.
- Cut the circle into 8 or 12 triangular wedges (depending on if you want large or small rugelach.)
- Carefully roll the rugelach into a crescent shape. Place on a cookie sheet. They can be packed quite closely as they won't rise too much.
- Repeat the process with each of the other two balls of dough.
- To get a puffier pastry, chill the formed rugelach for 30 minutes in the fridge before baking.
- Glaze with a beaten egg if you want a crisp brown exterior. Then bake for 20-30 minutes at 375F, rotating half way through to ensure even baking.
- I only recommend prefermenting if you are using a gluten free baking flour mix. Don’t preferment with regular flour as it will develop gluten and the rugelach will toughen.
- Using homemade cream cheese is the only way to ferment the batter. If you are using store-bought blocks of cream cheese, skip the pre-ferment. Also, blocks of cream cheese are also too firm to spread as a thin layer on the dough, so you can skip that step as well.
- You can also use cultured sour cream or pressed kefir cheese to preferment the batter. But I don’t recommend them for spreading on the rugelach as they are too moist.
- Chopping dates finely can be tricky, so feel free to use date sugar instead.
- For a sweeter pastry replace the chopped dates with a 1/4 cup of brown sugar. If the pastry still isn’t sweet enough, then sprinkle them with icing sugar before serving.