Urology Pearls: A recipe for rugelach, or ‘little twists’

Shahar Madjar, MD

Here is another recipe from my upcoming book, “The Dieting Doctor.” The name rugelach means “Little Twists” in Yiddish. These are delicious, crescent-shaped baked confections made by rolling a triangular piece of dough around a filling. The shape is somewhat similar to that of a croissant but the preparation is entirely different because there are much fewer steps. The dough is typically made with sour cream or cream cheese but the following recipe is for the type of rugelach I remember from my childhood. In this recipe, the dough is made with oil instead of cream cheese and is rolled around a delicious cocoa-based, chocolate-flavored filling. Finally, the rugelach are brushed with a sugary syrup that gives them a characteristic mildly sticky texture.

For the dough:

3.5 cups flour, sifted

1 tablespoon dry yeast

0.5 cup + 1 teaspoon of sugar

2 eggs

1/3 cup vegetable or canola oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

2/3 cup lukewarm milk

For the filling:

1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil

3/4 cup cocoa powder

3/4 cup sugar

For the egg wash:

1 egg

1 tablespoon milk

For the sugar syrup:

1/3 cup water

1/3 cup sugar

Juice from 1/4 lemon

Optional: 1/2 teaspoon of rose water


1. To proof the yeast, stir the yeast and 1 teaspoon of sugar into the lukewarm milk. Let the mixture stand for 10 minutes. When the mixture doubles in size, the yeast is active and the mixture is ready for use.

2. In a separate bowl, thoroughly beat the eggs with the sugar, then add the proofed yeast and milk mixture, and oil.

3. Gradually add sifted flour and then salt and mix thoroughly using a mixer or a whisk to create the dough.

4. Shape the dough into a large ball, grease the bowl with a small amount of oil, place the dough in the bowl, and cover the bowl with a wet kitchen towel. Let the dough rise in a warm place (room temperature) for 2 hours or until doubled in size.

5. While the dough is rising, prepare the filling by mixing the oil, cocoa powder, and sugar.

6. While the dough is rising, also prepare the sugar syrup in a small pot by combining water, sugar, lemon juice and rose water. Bring these ingredients to a boil and then simmer while stirring frequently for 10 minutes.

7. Set the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

8. After the dough has risen, transfer the dough onto a lightly floured surface, divide it into two halves, and form two balls of dough.

9. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough into a large circle, about 12 inch in diameter.

10. Using a kitchen spatula, evenly spread half the amount of the filling onto each of the circles.

11. Using a pizza cutter (preferred), or a large knife, cut each of the disks into 12 triangular slices (the way a large round pizza pie is sliced).

12. Roll each of the slices from the outside inwards to shape each of the slices into a croissant-like structure.

13. Place each of the rugelach on a large cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Place the tip of the triangle facing down toward the cookie sheet to prevent unraveling of the rugelach during baking,. Keep the rugelach about 1 inch apart to allow a second rising.

14. Let the rugelach rise for 20-30 minutes.

15. Prepare the egg wash by beating one egg with one tablespoon of milk, and brush the rugelach with the egg wash.

16. Bake the rugelach for 20 minutes until their surface becomes golden brown.

17. Take the rugelach out of the oven and brush them while they are still warm from the oven with a thin layer of the sugary syrup.

18. Serve and enjoy.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Shahar Madjar, MD, MBA, is a urologist and an author. He practices at Schoolcraft Memorial Hospital in Manistique, and in Baraga County Memorial Hospital in L’Anse. Find his books on Amazon or contact him at smadjar@yahoo.com.


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