For my Hanukkah party this year, I chose two desserts a little bit out of my realm: rugelach and a cranberry almond caramel tart. Both were so unusual for me because I had never made any kind of rugelach or a real tart before. Some people rely only on “tried and true” for company; I rise to the challenge of trying something and getting it right the first time. (Oh, and if you didn’t figure it out already, both desserts have something else very important in common: I borrowed them from the Smitten Kitchen. Take a look – I promise you’ll become infatuated too!)
These rugelach don’t look much like the ones typically found on a Jewish table, but I picked them for a couple reasons. One, they just looked so lovely when I first came across them. And two, because of their size and shape, there seems to be a greater filling to dough ratio – resulting in a lighter cookie with more sweet filling. I cut the recipe in half since I had several other dessert planned and didn’t feel I needed a whole batch. I found the dough very easy to make and roll out – always a plus! I modified the filling and used raspberry jam, mini chocolate chips, and chopped walnuts. I think that next time I’d try to make my pinwheels a little bigger in diameter and cut them a bit thicker – just to keep more of the filling inside. But, they were all gobbled up and well-enjoyed by my family.
As for the filling, well, that was a bit more difficult. I had never made caramel before, and found it quite the challenge to get the sugar melted and combined with the cream and butter. I ended up heating the cream and butter to prevent the sugar from seizing. I still ended up with some hard rocks of sugar, but I suppose that’s why the recipe calls for straining. If it hadn’t worked out, I was ready to run out to the supermarket for a jar of prepared caramel. Good thing it’s right around the corner!
I really enjoyed that this tart was pretty enough to double as dessert and decoration. My family really enjoyed eating it, too: the tart cranberries really made this a nice option alongside the other, much-sweeter desserts. I would definitely make this again to bring to a holiday party, it’s just so festive and delicious.