It is with fond memories of my dear Grandma and aunts that I offer this recipe to you at this season. My Eastern European ancestry has given me a rich heritage of baked goods that have left an indelible mark on my psyche (not to mention my hips) as both delicacies for the tummy as well as the soul. However, my 21st century Vegan consciousness and my concern for healthy alternatives to high fat and white flour consumption, has prompted me to improve this recipe from the past and present a modern version of an old world treat that one can serve with a smile and without a caveat.
The original formula was created with scads of butter or even worse “Crisco” (is that from a plant?) and laden with devitalized white flour and its sister demon white sugar. By replacing these ingredients with more wholesome and nutritious components, we have a delectable dessert that will please as well as excite the most discerning palate. One aspect of this recipe that makes it so convenient is the fact that these pastries can be made well ahead of the event and frozen for weeks until the day it will be served. Actually, one of the drawbacks is that the pastries can be consumed directly from the freezer without even allowing it to thaw or reach room temperature, which in the weight watchers handbook is a rather “dangerous” property for a food to retain.
Dough: Combine 5 cups whole wheat pastry flour, 1 cup turbinado sugar, 16 oz. plain tofu cream cheese, 8 oz. soy margarine (Earth Balance). Mix together with the plastic pastry blade in a food processor adding a few drops of water if needed to get the mixture moving easily and creating a smooth dough. Divide into 4 or 5 smaller round balls using some wheat flour on a wooden board and refrigerate until ready to assemble.
Now prepare the filling mixtures:
1.Combine 2 cups walnuts with 1 cup pecans, ½ cup turbinado sugar, 2 teaspoons of cinnamon powder, and a few drops of vanilla extract. Chop finely with metal blade in processor and set aside.
2. mix 1 cup of currants and 1 cup vegan chocolate chips (mini if available)
3. Open a jar of good quality raspberry jam (no seeds and no honey) into a small bowl and dilute with a few drops of water. We now have an assembly line ready to create our ruggelahs.
Take out 1 dough ball at a time from the refrigerator and let thaw for a few minutes. Now with a
rolling pin, and a little wheat flour underneath, roll out into an even and thin circle. First spread a layer of jam over the whole surface spreading it with a spatula or a brush.
Now, around the outside edges, add the nut mixture, currants and chips as if you were making a pizza. Sprinkle all over with more cinnamon and freshly grated nutmeg. Cut each dough circle with a pizza cutter into approximately 10 triangles. You can adjust the size of the pastries by varying the widths or keep them uniform as desired.
You may need to insert a metal spatula underneath each triangle to loosen the dough and to facilitate rolling them from the wide end to the narrow into a crescent shape. Sprinkle with more cinnamon. Use sunflower oil spray to lightly coat non-stick pans and bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Check the bottoms for browning. They are usually ready when the jam or chocolate chips start to ooze out onto the pan. Cool on a rack. This recipe makes about 60 medium size pastries. Freeze if desired for later use. Perfectly sweet and deliciously healthy! My husband says Valentine’s Day is EVERY day at our house!
This has been submitted exclusively to Pawling Public Radio