|Region or state||Israel and Jewish (Central Europe).|
Dough: sour cream or cream cheese|
Filling: any of raisins, walnuts, cinnamon, chocolate, marzipan, poppy seed, or fruit preserves
Rugelach (// ROO-gəl-əkh; Yiddish: ראָגאַלעך and Hebrew: רוגלך), other spellings: rugelakh, rugulach, rugalach, ruggalach, rogelach (all plural), rugalah, rugulah, rugala, roogala (singular), is a Jewish pastry of Ashkenazic origin. It is very popular in Israel, commonly found in most cafes and bakeries. It is also a popular treat among Jews in diaspora.
Traditional rugelach are made in the form of a crescent by rolling a triangle of dough around a filling. Some sources state that the rugelach and the French croissant share a common Viennese ancestor, crescent-shaped pastries commemorating the lifting of the Turkish siege, possibly a reference to the Battle of Vienna in 1683. This appears to be an urban legend however, as both the rugelach and its supposed ancestor, the Kipferl, pre-date the Early Modern era, while the croissant in its modern form did not originate earlier than the 19th century (see viennoiserie). This leads many to believe that the croissant is simply a descendant of one of these two.
The name is Yiddish, the historical language of Ashkenazi Jews. The -ach ending (־ך) indicates plural, while the el (־ל) can be a diminutive, as, for example, shtetlekh (שטעטלעך, villages) is the plural of shtetl (שטעטל, village), the diminutive of shtot (שטאָט, town). In this case, the root means something like "twist" so the translation would be "little twists," a reference to the shape of this cookie. In this context, note that rog (ראָג) means "corner" in Yiddish. In Polish, which influenced Yiddish, róg can mean "corner", but can also mean "horn" – both the kind on an animal and the musical instrument. Croissant-shaped pastries, which look like horns, are called rogale in Polish, see Rogal świętomarciński. Rogale is almost identical in pronunciation and meaning to the Yiddish word rugelach.
Alternatively, some assert that the root is rugel, meaning "royal", possibly a reference to the taste. This explanation is in conflict with Yiddish usage, where the word keniglich (קעניגליךּ) is the dominant word meaning "royal".
Finally, in modern Hebrew, they are known as roglìt (רוֹגְלִית), a post-biblical Hebrew word meaning "trailing vines", though the name rugelach (רוגלך) is still commonly used by Hebrew speakers. The Yiddish word ruglach probably came first. The modern Hebrew is probably a neologism, chosen for its similarity to the Yiddish and its descriptive meaning.
Rugelach can be made with sour cream or cream cheese doughs, but there are also pareve variants (with no dairy ingredients), so that it can be eaten with or after a meat meal and still be kosher. Cream cheese doughs are the most recent, probably American innovations, while yeast leavened and sour cream doughs are much older.
Rugelach closely resemble schnecken, an eastern European (Poland, Russia, Ukraine) Jewish pastry that generally has cream cheese dough and is rolled into a cylinder and sliced, becoming a flat spiral, whereas rugelach are formed from individual triangles of dough and rolled into a crescent shape. In recent years, chefs have introduced savory versions of these pastries, filled with chicken and schmaltz or salmon and boursin cheese.
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