Browned Onion Poppyseed Kugel Cakes

L’Shana Tova! …. well, almost.

For those of you that have no clue what I am talking about, L’Shana Tova means “For a Good Year” in Hebrew. Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year kicks off this month at sundown on September 28th. Celebrating with family and friends (and food) is a lovely way to acknowledge the start of a new year while reflecting on the moments from the past year. Like any New Year’s celebration, food is at the heart of the party, which is why, you should whip up a batch of Brown Onion Poppyseed Kugel Cakes! Not your traditional kugel… which is typically sweet, these little nuggets are filled with delicious savory flavors. I must also admit, there is something wonderful about getting your own little kugel cake that is perfectly intact and oh so pretty!

I can absolutely not take credit for these wonderful little cakes… it was ALL Judd. The caramelized onion gives the cakes a deep rich flavor with a hint of sweetness. Sour cream and the obligatory cottage cheese moisten the batter with a creamy zing! Not only were these incredibly easy to make, but they are delightful to eat! Celebrate this Rosh Hashanah the right way… with homemade Kugel Cakes!

Makes 6 to 8 main-course or 12 side-dish servings

6 ounces medium egg noodles (1 3/4 cups)
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
3 cups chopped onions (2 large)
1 1/4 cups sour cream
1 1/4 cups small-curd cottage cheese (10 ounces)
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Special equipment: a muffin tin with 12 (1/2-cup) muffin cups

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 425°F.

Cook noodles in a 6- to 8-quart pot of boiling salted water until al dente, about 5 minutes. Drain in a colander and rinse under cold water, then drain well.

Melt butter in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat and brush muffin cups with some of butter. Add onions to skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until well browned, about 20 minutes. Transfer onions to a large bowl and stir in noodles, sour cream, cottage cheese, and poppy seeds. Lightly beat eggs with salt and pepper, then stir into noodle mixture until combined well.

Divide mixture among muffin cups and bake until puffed and golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Loosen edges of kugels with a thin knife and cool kugels in pan 5 minutes before serving.

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Chocolate Cinnamon Rugelach

Last weekend I headed to Los Angeles to visit my folks and help my mom throw a baby shower for the newest addition to our group of family friends, baby Eli. Being Jewish and knowing most of these women since I was born (or at least really little), I thought to myself, what dessert will please this crowd of noshers… aha… rugelach!

Now, I’ve never made rugelach. In fact, I’ve never even seen someone else make rugelach, so this undertaking was definitely out of my comfort zone. Jews are typically picky when it comes to these chocolately danish-like delights, so the pressure was on to not mess these up.

Having enjoyed many a rugelach in my day, I was surprised to discover that I had never considered how the moist flakey dough was formed. Cream cheese and butter would certainly not have been my guess. It makes perfect sense however… cream cheese gives the dough a natural sweetness and adds moisture without turning these cookies into little balls of butter. The shaved chocolate filling is the perfect compliment to the doughy exterior. Adding cinnamon enhances the chocolate taste and gives these rolled cookies an added zing of flavor.

By the looks of the wiped clean plate… I’m guessing these were a hit! So, now that I have mastered rugelach perhaps I should tackle home made gefilte fish… um, or not.

Some Jewish traditions are better left a mystery.

Makes 32 cookies

Dough
7 ounces (200 grams) butter, room temperature
8 ounces (250 grams) cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour

Chocolate Filling
1 tablespoon cocoa
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup grated bitter-sweet chocolate
butter, melted

Topping
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup sugar

Using an electric mixer, combine butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add sugar and vanilla, mix until combined. Add flour and mix lightly. Wrap dough is plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a small bowl, mix the first four filling ingredients together (cocoa, cinnamon, sugar, grated chocolate). Divide the dough into four balls. On a floured surface, using a floured rolling pin, roll one ball out into an 1/8 inch thick circle. Spread some melted butter on the center of the circle. Sprinkle the dough with chocolate mixture.

Cut the pastry into pie-shaped wedges. Start at the wide edge of the wedge and roll the dough up toward the point. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Place each pastry, seam side down, on the paper.

Brush each pastry with egg. Sprinkle with sugar (I used granulated, but turbinado might be nice for added texture). Repeat steps with remaining 3 balls of dough.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden.

*Tips:

1. Using too much filling leads to messy looking rugelach.
2. A pizza cutter makes it easier to cut the dough into pie-shaped wedges.
3. If you don’t want to use parchment paper, you can spray the cookie sheets with non-stick spray.
4. After rolling the dough up and placing on the parchment paper, you can stick them in your freezer. When you need fresh rugelach, take them right from the freezer into the oven and add a few minutes to the baking time.