Kate made this rugelach in our kitchen the day before I left and though I didn't plan a photo shoot, or rig a makeshift studio in my room with poster board to reflect light and cute plates to position the rugelach on just so, a crumb in the foreground and a spoon of jam in the background, I think they look just as beautiful like this. And Manu's family devoured them the next day when I arrived in Barletta. When I told Manu's mom they got a little squished on the plane, she said, "No, they're perfect just like this."
(based on this recipe)
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2-pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar plus 9 tablespoons
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 cup walnuts, finely chopped
1/2 cup apricot preserves
1 egg beaten (for egg wash)
Cream the cheese and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until light. Add 1/4 cup granulated sugar, the salt, and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour and mix until just combined. Dump the dough out onto a well-floured board and roll it into a ball. Cut in quarters, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour. To make the filling, combine 6 tablespoons of granulated sugar, the brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and walnuts. On a well-floured board, roll each ball of dough into a 9-inch circle. Spread the dough with 2 tablespoons apricot preserves and sprinkle with 1/2 cup of the filling. Press the filling lightly into the dough. Roll the circle longways into a log. Chill the logs for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Slice the rugelach in 1-inch pieces. Place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush each cookie with the egg wash. Combine 3 tablespoons granulated sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon and sprinkle on top. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove to a wire rack and let cool.
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[Print this recipe!]
And if you're interested, here's an interesting case study of popular trends in food photography right now.
P.S. Thank you everyone for your sweet notes and well wishes for my departure back to Barletta! I arrived safe and sound and now I'm officially ready to start 2013 with a bang!