If you love chocolate, you'll this Chocolate Rugelach - a bite-sized cookie made with a cream cheese dough and filled with dark chocolate. They're flaky, buttery, chocolatey, and absolutely delicious. They're the perfect Christmas cookie, but can be made any time of the year.
I first learned how to make rugelach from Rose Levy Beranbaum's The Christmas Cookie book and they quickly became a family favorite. I developed the recipe for Apple and Tart Cherry Rugelach for my appearance on the Great American Baking Show and I love the combination of tart filling and cream cheese cookie.
This chocolate rugelach will be one of the best rugelach recipes you'll ever make and it starts with the rugelach and using cold ingredients.
Why This Recipe Tastes So Good
What makes this recipe taste so good is treating the cookie dough like pie dough. A lot of recipes use room temperature butter and cream cheese, but in this recipe, cold butter and cream cheese are used. Once the ingredients are mixed together, the dough is rolled and folded twice which results in a flaky cookie. The filling is a combination of chopped chocolate, cocoa, ground cinnamon, and sugar. The combination produces a chocolatey filling with a just hint of sweetness.
Chocolate Rugelach Recipe Ingredients
Here is what you'll need for rugelach dough:
- Unsalted Butter. Adds to the tenderness and flakiness of the cookie. Use good quality butter to ensure a great tasting cookie.
- Philadelphia Cream Cheese. Philadelphia cream cheese is my preferred brand because of the slight tang and the creaminess.
- Unbleached All-Purpose Flour. Provides the structure for the cookie.
- Granulated Sugar. Adds sweetness to the dough and helps with the browning of the cookie.
- Kosher Salt. Enhances the overall flavor of the cookie
The great thing about this recipe is that the butter, cream cheese, and flour are in equal amounts by weight which makes this recipe easy to remember.
How to Make the Rugelach Dough
Rugelach dough is quick and easy to make. Using the food processor is the easiest method to make this dough. But if you don't have a food processor you can use a pastry cutter to make the dough by hand. To get a flaky dough use cold butter and cold cream cheese, the same as you would for a pie.
For a long time I used room temperature butter and cream cheese but I learned from my friend and fellow baker Tina Zaccardi to use cold butter and cold cream cheese to produce a much flakier cookie.
Process the dry ingredients in the food processor until they are combined. Add the cold butter and cream cheese and pulse until the dough has a crumbly texture.
Turn the dough onto a well-floured work surface and press the dough into a 6 x 8-inch rectangle. Fold it together using a letter fold (the ends will break but that's okay). Repeat the rolling and folding 3 more times. Divide the dough into 4 even pieces and shape them into rectangles. Wrap each piece into plastic wrap and chill for at least one (1) hour.
Once the dough is rolled into a block, you'll see specks of cream cheese and butter throughout the block. When the dough is baked these pieces of cream cheese and butter will melt, release their water and cause the dough to separate into layers.
How to Make the Rugelach Chocolate Filling
The chocolate filling has the following ingredients:
- Dark Chocolate
- Dutch Processed Cocoa Powder
- Ground Cinnamom
- Light Brown Sugar
- Granulated Sugar
The filling is easy to make. Start by chopping the chocolate very finely. The pieces should be about 1/8-inch or smaller.
Combine the chopped chocolate with the cocoa powder, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt and stir together.
Store the filling in an airtight container until you're ready to make the cookies.
How to Bake the Cookie
Remove the dough from the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature for 5-10 minutes so it will be easy to roll out.
If removing the dough from the freezer allow it to sit at room temperature for 10-15 minutes. Just until it is soft enough to roll out but still very cold.
Roll the dough into a 14 x 5-inch rectangle. Trim the short edges so they are straight.
Brush the dough with melted butter. Spread 4-5 tablespoons of the chocolate filling in the center of the rolled out dough, leaving a 1/4-inch border all the way around.
Starting on the long edge tightly roll the dough. When finished rolling making sure the seam side is down and press into the cookie roll into the work surface.
Trim the edges so the roll is 12-inches long. Cut it into 8 pieces, with each piece being 1-1/2-inches long.
Place the cookies on a baking sheet or flat surface and chill in the refrigerator uncovered for 1-hour before baking.
Remove the cookies from the refrigerator and brush each with egg wash and sprinkle with demerara sugar. Bake the cookies for 15-17 minutes or until they have risen and are dark golden brown.
Remove the cookies from the oven and let cool on the baking tray for 5 minutes then move them to a cooling rack and let them cool completely.
When the rugelach cookies are done, the filling is warm and melty and the pastry is butter, crisp and melts in your mouth.
Pro Tips for Making This Recipe
- For a flaky cookie use cold butter and cold cream cheese
- Do not over process the cookie dough. Pulse it in the food processor until it resembles large bread crumbs.
- Do not place unbaked cookies on a warm baking sheet. This will cause the butter and cream cheese to start melting before they are placed in the oven and the cookies won't be as flaky.
Recipe - Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, you can get very creative with the filling. You can use jam, chopped dried fruit, raisins, chopped chocolate, etc. If you using an ingredient like chopped chocolate make sure it is chopped fine enough that it doesn't tear the dough when it is rolled.
Yes, you can freeze the cookies. Once the cookies are rolled up place them in a single layer on a tray or board and freeze them for 24 hours. Once frozen place them in a freezer bag. When ready to bake, bake them straight from the freezer.
If you don't have a good processor use a pastry cutter to cut the butter and cream cheese into the dry ingredients.
If You Like This Recipe Try These
- 2 cups (228 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 8 ounces (227 grams) Philadelphia cream cheese, cold
- 1 cup (227 grams) unsalted butter, cold
- 6 ounces (170 grams) finely chopped chocolate
- 2 tablespoons (25 grams) light brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon (13 grams) granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons (10 grams) cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 4 tablespoons (56 grams) unsalted butter, melted
- 1 large egg
- 1 tablespoon whole milk
- 3 tablespoons demerara sugar
- Place the flour, sugar and salt in the food processor and process for about 10 seconds to combine. Cut the cream cheese and butter into chunks and add them to the food processor. Pulse until the dough resembles small pebbles, about 25-35 pulses.
- Pour the mixture onto a work surface and press it into a 6 x 8-inch rectangle. The dough will still be crumbly at this point but should have a marbled appearance with small visible pieces of cream cheese and butter.
- Fold the dough into a letter fold. To create the letter fold, pick up one of the short ends (the 6-inch end) of the dough (on the right or the left) and fold it a third of the way over the rest of the dough. Repeat with the other end. Turn the long side towards you and roll it into a 6 x 8-inch rectangle. The dough will still be crumbly after the first fold.
- Repeat the folding step three more times. Each time pick up pieces of dough that have fallen to the side and press them into the top of the dough. Lightly flour the work surface throughout the folding and rolling to keep it from sticking to the work surface. The last time the dough should come together and be pliable.
- Divide the dough into 4 pieces, about 188 grams each. Shape each piece into a rectangle shape and wrap it in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, but no longer than 2 days. The dough can be frozen for about 1 month. If freezing for more than a day, place the plastic-wrapped dough in freezer bags.
Rugelach Chocolate Filling
- Finely chop the chocolate. The pieces should be no bigger than 1/8-inch in size. Place the chocolate, brown sugar, granulated sugar, cocoa, and ground cinnamon in a medium bowl and whisk to combine.
Assemble the Rugelach Cookies
- Line a rimmed baking sheet or flat plate with parchment paper. Melt the butter and let it cool until it is just barely warm.
- Place the dough on a work surface and let it sit for about 10 minutes. Flour the work surface and roll it out to a 14 x 5-inch rectangle. Brush the dough with the melted butter.
- Spread 4-5 tablespoons of the chocolate filling on the dough and leave about a 1/4-inch border all the way around. Lightly press the chocolate filling into the dough.
- Starting at the long edge roll the dough into a tight spiral. When it’s rolled up, place the seam-side down and press it into the surface. Trim the edges so the log is 12-inches long. Cut the log into 8 pieces, 1-1/2 inches long each.
- Place the unbaked rugelach on a tray and refrigerate them for at least one hour.
- At this point, the rugelach can also be frozen and baked directly from the freezer. Place the rugelach in a single layer on a baking sheet or board, Freeze them, then place them in a freezer bag. When ready to bake, remove them from the freezer, brush them with the egg wash, sprinkle with the sugar and bake until golden brown.
Bake the Rugelach
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Place the rolled up rugelach on a rimmed baking sheet 2-inches apart. Brush with the egg-milk mixture and sprinkle with the demerara sguar. Place in the oven and bake for 16-18 minutes until golden brown. Remove from the oven. Allow to cool on the baking sheet for about 5 minutes before moving to a cooling rack.
- The cookies are good at room temperature in an airtight container for ten days.