Tender, flaky cream cheese pastry provides the perfect vehicle for apricot jam and sweet almond filling in these Apricot-Almond Rugelach.
My dad planted a Blenheim apricot tree in his yard a few years ago, but until last Spring, it only ever managed to produce a handful of apricots each year.
This spring’s record crop of blushing beauties, with their sweet, tart flavor, meant we could do more than just wistfully savor each precious piece of fruit.
When the fruit ripened on the tree this year, every visit to my dad’s house meant returning home with a huge bag of apricots. The ones we didn’t devour out of hand, we turned into sweet treats like ice cream and jam.
I’m feeling super grateful that my younger daughter Tessa had the idea of making apricot jam with some of our luscious fruit. It tastes incredible on toast and in hand pies, but my new favorite way to enjoy it is rolled up in Apricot-Almond Rugelach, rich flavorful cookies filled with apricot jam, almonds, brown sugar, and spices.
Not only do these cookies deliver sweet flavors and textures, they’re easy and fun to make!
Start with the Dough
This recipe starts with a cinnamon-laced dough made with butter and cream cheese. It’s so rich and delicious.
After combining flour, sugar, salt, and cinnamon in a food processor, whirl in the butter and cream cheese until the dough looks likes coarse meal.
You want to see small pieces of butter and cream cheese in the mix; these provide a layered, flaky texture. If the crumbs hold together when you pinch them between your fingers, it’s ready!
Turn out the crumbs and press them together into a mass of dough. Divide the dough in three equal pieces and press each one into a flat disk. Wrap the dough and chill it for at least two hours until completely firm.
Make the Filling
While the dough chills, prepare the filling. I start by toasting the almonds for extra flavor.
While the almonds are cooling, whirl brown sugar, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, and salt in the food processor (don’t worry about washing it after making the dough!). Add the almonds and pulse to the desired consistency.
If you like large almond pieces, just a few pulses will do. I prefer smaller, but not completely ground pieces. I usually pulse a few times and check, repeating until the consistency looks right.
If you don’t have a food processor, chop the nuts by hand and mix them into a bowl with the other dry filling ingredients.
Assemble and Shape
Once the dough has chilled, roll one piece into an 11 to 12-inch circle about 1/8-inch thick. Spread three tablespoons of the apricot jam on the top. The jam should feel quite thin.
Sprinkle a third of the almond filling over the top and cut the round into 16 wedges. It should look like a small pizza!
Starting at the outer edge, roll up the wedges into small crescents and put them on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
Chill the rugelach for about 15 minutes before baking. I usually pop the first pan in the refrigerator while I prepare the next round of dough.
Bake and Enjoy!
Before baking, brush the rugelach with egg wash and sprinkle with coarse sugar. Bake at 350º F until golden, about 25 minutes.
Some of the jam and sugar will ooze out during baking; immediately transfer the cookies from the baking pan to a cooling rack to prevent them from adhering to the sticky mixture (which, by the way, tastes incredible).
The apricot and almond flavors blend harmoniously in these fruity, nutty spirals, while the tender dough, coarse sugar, and crunchy nuts add satisfying texture. Since these Apricot-Almond Rugelach aren’t too sweet, it’s super easy to over-indulge. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
- 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3/4 cups unsalted butter cut into pieces
- 8 ounces cold cream cheese cut into pieces
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup slivered almonds
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
- pinch freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 9 tablespoons apricot jam
- 1 large egg beaten
- coarse sugar for sprinkling
- Pulse the flour, granulated sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a food processor until combined.
- Add the butter and pulse briefly; some peanut-sized pieces should remain. Add the cream cheese and vanilla. Pulse until the dough looks like coarse meal. Small pieces of butter and cream cheese should still be visible in the mixture.
- If you don't have a food processor, simply mix in the butter and cream cheese with your fingers or a pastry cutter as you would with pie dough.
- Turn the mixture out and press it into a mass of dough (set the food processor bowl aside without washing to use for the filling). Divide the dough in three evenly-sized pieces. Shape each one into a flat disk and wrap tightly in plastic. Chill until completely firm, about 2 hours (or up to two days).
- In a skillet, toast the slivered almonds over medium heat until fragrant and pale golden brown. Set aside to cool.
- Combine brown sugar, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, and salt in the food processor bowl. Whirl to combine. Add cooled almonds and whirl to chop (less if you like larger pieces, more if you prefer smaller). Set aside.
- If you don't have a food processor, chop the nuts by hand and mix them into a bowl with the other dry filling ingredients.
Assembly and Baking
- Preheat oven to 350° F. Line three baking pans with parchment paper.
- Working with one piece at a time, roll the dough on a floured surface into an 11 to 12-inch round about 1/8-inch thick. Top the dough with 3 tablespoons of apricot jam, spreading almost all the way to the edges. It will be thin.
- Sprinkle 1/3 of the almond filling over the jam and spread it out evenly to cover the jam.
- Using a pastry cutter or pizza wheel, cut the round into 16 equal wedges.
- Starting at the wider outside edge, roll up the wedges into small crescents and place them on one of the prepared baking pans. Refrigerate for 15 minutes while you work with the next piece of dough.
- Right before baking, brush the rugelach with the beaten egg and sprinkle generously with coarse sugar.
- Bake the rugelach until pale golden and firm to the touch, about 25 to 30 minutes.
- Transfer the hot cookies to a rack and cool briefly before eating.
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