A basic lesson in Jewish food laws told through the Rugalach cookie

I spell it rugalach. Others seem to spell it rugelach, but either way, learning what a rugalach is can actually tell you a lot about the basic rules of kashrut (keeping kosher by Jewish law) in terms of food.As most of you probably know, Jewish kosher laws do not permit mixing meat with dairy. But, what you might not know is that not only can you not eat them together, but you must wait a certain amount of time after eating one, before eating something from the other. To be specific for a moment, if you consume something dairy, you have to wait at least an hour (varies by Rabbinical opinion) before consuming anything with meat. However, it isn’t the same vice versa, as you must wait 6 hours after a meal with meat, before consuming dairy products. This is longer because of the way our stomachs digest meat.

So, picture this situation for a moment. You keep kosher, and you’ve just eaten a hearty steak for dinner. To balance out the meal at its end, you need something sweet, and you just happen to have a craving for chocolate, what would often make for a very dairy dessert. Unable to wait six hours to satisfy such a craving, what do you do?

Enter: the rugalach.

While most cookies that have chocolate flavoring are made with milk, making them dairy, the ordinary rugalach does not contain any dairy products, and is therefore considered pareve, meaning it is neither meat (fleischic in Yiddish) nor dairy (milchic). Variations can include dairy, but a rugalach is supposed to be pareve.

So, there you have it. A solution! Not to mention, a delicious one. On a total sidenote, when I was in high school, my friends and I made “one smart cookie” shirts, and I was the rugalach (yes, I’m a nerd!) Anyway, the site is in dire need of a great rugalach recipe! (hint hint)

The most delicious rugalach ever:

-Hillary, really excited about being on Serious Eats!
Editor, Recipe4Living

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  • http://kitchenarykendra.blogspot.com kitchenary kendra

    OOps! Just last week I made some rugalachs and I used Ina Garten’s recipe, her shortbread contained cream cheese. I’m guessing this is not pareve, but I have to say, they were good!

  • http://chewonthatblog.com Hillary

    Kitchenary Kendra,
    I’m sure they were delicious! Rugalach definitely can be dairy, but they’re useful in the fact that they can be just as delicious pareve, and often are pareve. Thanks for commenting!

  • Melissa A.

    I had some yummy rugelach last night. It was from a bakery in NJ that ships some of their stuff to a Kosher store in NY. I haven’t heard of any good recipes yet, but try the Spice and Spirit cookbook. Or the Kosher by Design cookbook could work too.
    What are you doing on “Serious Eats”? Congrats!

  • http://www.recipe4living.com Hillary

    Thanks for reading Melissa! The rugalach I had was from Shalom Bakery in Buffalo Grove (I know you are familiar with the area :) ). We had chocolate and cinnamon nut, but I’d love to make my own. I’ll check out those cookbooks.

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  • Joanna

    Dairy-free rugelach? I’ve always been under the impression that rugelach, by definition, is a cream cheese-based cookie. So, what do “kosher” rugelach contain in lieu of the butter and cream cheese? Margarine? Yuck.. What’s the point? Dairy-free rugelach is like saying carb-free bagels. It’s an oxymoron.

    There are plenty of great desserts that are dairy-free by nature. Why not just have:
    A couple-few squares of great quality dark chocolate
    Sorbet
    Chiffon cake
    Macaroons
    Torrone nougat
    A box of Hot Tamles
    A few more squares of dark chocolate.

    I think you get the point.

    I do have an excellent recipe for rugelach that I’ve been making for years, in which the (dairy-heavy) dough is incredibly easy to roll-out and never sticks. Happy to share, if anyone wants it.

  • bev Kaiser

    Yes, Joanna, I would like your recipe… I assume then that you can make and roll and fill continuously?

  • bev Kaiser

    Joanna, Please send you recipe to bkaiser@shaw.ca.. thanks

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