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Holiday baking for me always means cookies. While closer to Christmas, I like to bake gingerbread, sugar cookies and kołaczki, during the festival of lights, it’s all rugelach for me. For those of you who aren’t familiar with rugelach (or rugelah), they’re a cream-cheese based cookie of Polish-Jewish origin (we have so much in common already), and they are delicious…
This particular holiday cookie is a Hanukkah staple, but I’ve definitely seen them at Christmas gatherings as well. Traditionally, rugelach is filled with dried fruit, jam, nuts and spices, though modern versions can include everything from nutella and all different types of sweet ingredients, to onion jam and bagel seasoning for a savory twist. I’m a classic kind of gal, though, and so my favorite fillings are nuts and cinnamon. Feel free to get creative, though!
The Low Carb, Gluten-Free, Vegan Rugelach Dough Ratio
Okay, so pretty much all baking is based on ratios, but rugelach especially so. Traditional dough is literally just equal parts butter, cream cheese and flour. Super simple. Most modern takes on the dough add a little vanilla and sugar, though I prefer to keep things as minimalist as possible with the dough and defer to the filling for the flavor. Because we are using low carb, vegan ingredients, this ratio doesn’t really work out as well. Instead, we’re going with 1:1:1 vegan butter, vegan cream cheese, lupin flour and as a bonus add-in, 1/4 part coconut flour. I know, I know – coconut flour can be a divisive topic, but it’s necessary here to achieve the correct texture.
Notes & Substitutions For Low Carb Vegan Rugelach
- This recipe scales up really well. I like making small batches, but you could easily double, triple or even quadruple this. For small batches, I mix by hand, but you definitely want to use a mixer if making a quadruple batch!
- Any bean flour will work here! I’ve made this successfully with lupin, chickpea and soy flours (the latter two I always get from Bob’s Red Mill). The texture is slightly different with each: lupin is the densest, but it’s also lowest in carbs while chickpea is the lightest, but also highest in carbs. I included the nutrition information for using lupin flour, but if you are able to increase your carb intake a bit, I really recommend making these with a lupin-chickpea flour blend (or straight chickpea flour for those of you who are just low-carb and not keto!).
- I like things a little less sweet, so I tend to put only 2 tbsp of sweetener in the filling. If you like things on the sweeter side, go with the 4tbs, or whatever best suits your taste. 🙂
- For sweeteners, I prefer to use Lakanto. It’s the brand I’ve found that works best for baking, and doesn’t upset my stomach. You can save 20% if you shop on their site using the code MeatFreeKeto.
- Be sure to use a vegan butter replacement that is intended for baking (usually found in stick form), not a spread. Spreads do not work the same way in recipes. They are much softer and often contain additives to make them spreadable that will work against you in baking.
- Do not skip the chilling stages! These are very important to the dough keeping it’s shape. Do you ever see those baking fails where someone just has a pool of cookie dough that has all melted together in the oven? This is most often because they didn’t chill the dough. It’s so important.
- I’ll be honest – rugelach takes some effort to make, but it’s delicious and I think it’s well worth it.
- I strive to provide accurate nutritional information, but because there are so many different brands and varieties of vegan cream cheese and butter out there, your calculations may vary slightly.
Low Carb Vegan Rugelach (gluten-free, dairy-free)
- 4oz (~112g) vegan cream cheese
- 4oz (~112g) vegan butter
- 4oz (~112g) lupin flour
- 1oz (~28g) coconut flour
For the Dough
- 1oz (~28g) raw walnuts
- 2+4 tbsp granulated sweetener (save 20% with the code MeatFreeKeto!)
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
For the Filling
- powdered sweetener (save 20% with the code MeatFreeKeto!)
- additional cinnamon
- Let the cream cheese and butter soften at room temperature, then cream them together until completely smooth. Stir in the flours until everything is completely combined. The dough should be slightly stiff, but still scoopable.
- Snag a piece of parchment paper, wax paper or plastic wrap and make a disk of dough that is around 1″ (2.5cm) thick. Wrap it up and chill in the fridge for around 4 hours, until solid.
- While the dough is chilling, make the filling by blending the filling ingredients together in a food processor until it resembles the texture of wet sand (see photos below).
- Remove the dough from the fridge and roll it out into a round that is around 1/8″ (4mm) thick. Spread the filling on top of the round. I like to make a couple of passes over the filling with the rolling pin so it stays in place, since we’re not using a jam to make it stick.
- At this point, you may want to stick the dough back in the fridge for another 10-15 minutes, depending on how warm your kitchen is.
- Remove the dough from the oven and slice into 12 roughly equal triangles, like you were slicing a pizza. Roll each little triangle from the wide end into a cute little roll. Place the rolls on a baking sheet (I like to line mine with a silicone baking mat) and chill for an additional 20-30 minutes.
- While the dough is chilling, preheat the oven to 350F (180C).
- After the dough has chilled, bake for 22-25 minutes, until golden all over. Remove from the oven, let cool and sprinkle with either cinnamon, powdered sugar-substitute or whatever you want.
This low-carb, gluten-free and vegan twist on a classic cream cheese cookie are the perfect holiday treat!