Some might doubt the need to fuss with the cookie formula—after all, butter plus sugar plus flour plus your favorite fruit, nut, or candy does equal peak treat. But here at culture, cheese graces 99 percent of our recipes, adding richness, tang, and dimension. Why should cookies be any different? To that end—and in time for your holiday cheese plates, dessert trays, and gift boxes—we’ve put together this collection of sweet and savory treats, featuring confections with cheese in the dough, in the filling, and in the icing. Still skeptical? We thought not.
This classic rugelach recipe, adapted from baking doyenne Dorie Greenspan, swaps walnuts and currants for pistachios and apricots. Cream cheese makes the dough easy to work with and gives the super-rich finished product a tender quality.
- 4 ounces cream cheese cut into 4 chunks
- 8 tablespoons 1 stick unsalted butter, cut into 4 chunks
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 ∕3 cup apricot jam
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
- ¼ cup chopped pistachios
- ¼ cup chopped dried apricots
- 1 large egg
- 2 tablespoons coarse decorative sugar
- Soften cream cheese and butter on counter for about 15 minutes before you make dough. Combine flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Add cream cheese and butter and pulse briefly, scraping down sides as needed, until dough just comes together—it should still be shaggy and chunky.
- Remove dough from food processor, gather into a ball, and divide in half. Shape each half into a disk, wrap each disk in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.Line 2 baking sheets with silicone liners or parchment paper.
- Take 1 disk of dough at a time from the refrigerator and soften on the counter for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, heat jam in a small saucepan over low heat until it liquefies. Set aside. Mix granulated sugar and cardamom in a small bowl and set aside. Flour a work surface and roll out dough into a roughly 12-inch circle.
- Brush with a thin layer of slightly cooled jam, then sprinkle on half the pistachios, half the apricots, and half the sugar-cardamom mixture. Cover filling with a piece of parchment or wax paper and press to adhere filling to dough. Set paper aside.
- Use a pizza wheel or sharp paring knife to cut the circle into quarters, then cut each quarter into quarters for a total of 16 wedges. Starting with the widest point of each wedge, roll dough into crescents. Arrange crescents on prepared baking sheet, making sure the tips end up on the bottom.
- Place baking sheet in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes (or up to 1 day) before baking. Repeat with second disk of dough and remaining filling ingredients. When ready to bake, arrange racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and heat oven to 350°F. Beat egg with a splash of water and brush over cookies.
- Sprinkle cookies with coarse sugar and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, rotating sheets and switching their positions midway through, until golden brown. Cool on rack.
Adapted from Dorie Greenspan