polenta rugelach with roasted tomato jam

I’ve been told rugelach is one of those recipes you shouldn’t toy with, but when did I ever back away from a challenge? Don’t allow the use of polenta here scare you into sticking solely to traditional dough, as it has been a game-changer for me, even when making pies! Remember this polenta tomato galette I made a few weeks ago? Here lies the inspiration for this new recipe. It adds a grainy, crumbly texture without turning a traditional rugelach dough into tiny, devastating bits. And that jam? Oy. Sweet-yet-savory (my favorite!)

While I’ll forever recommend buying in-season tomatoes from your local farmers market, roasting even the blandest store-bought (cherry/grape/Campari) tomato in our colder months will be okay to use for this recipe. But, seriously, a good friend of mine reported that she spotted plenty of tomatoes at Union Square Greenmarket yesterday, and it was the only good news I needed. You probably have at least 2 more weeks to splurge, so get to it.

Polenta Rugelach with Roasted Tomato Jam

a savory-sweet cookie
Course Appetizer, Dessert
Cuisine Jewish
Servings 48 cookies


for the dough

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter room temp
  • 8 oz full-fat cream cheese room temp
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup polenta

for small batch roasted tomato jam (makes 2/3 cup)

  • 1 lb in-season cherry tomatoes and/or other variety, halved if big
  • drizzle of olive oil
  • couple of pinches of salt
  • Aleppo pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp allspice optional
  • 2 sprigs thyme and/or rosemary
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar lightly packed
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

for assembling

  • polenta dough
  • roasted tomato jam
  • 1 egg for egg wash
  • 1 1/2 tbsp polenta for sprinkling over cookies (optional)


for the dough

  • In a medium bowl, add your flour and polenta and stir until well combined. Set aside.
  • Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together your butter, cream cheese, sugar, and salt. This can also be done by hand.
  • Slowly add in the flour and polenta, and mix until a smooth dough comes together. Divide this dough into 4 equal pieces, wrapping each one with plastic wrap. Place them in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour before use, or up to 24 hours. When ready to make your rugelach, you will want them to slightly come to room temp before rolling them out. Give them at least 20 minutes before doing so.

for the tomato jam

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a cast iron skillet, add tomatoes, herbs, spices, and olive oil. Toss until well coated. Roast for about 35 minutes, or until you see that the tomatoes have caramelized a bit.(Not too much, though, as you still want them juicy enough for the extra cooking being done on the stove top.)  
  • Place cast iron on stove top over med-low heat. Discard herbs. Gently smash tomatoes with either a potato masher or the back of a wooden spoon. Add lemon juice and sugar. Stir often, til juices reduce and tomato jam thickens, about 20-25minutes. Allow this to cool completely before use. Can be made 2 days ahead and kept in a small, tightly lidded jar.

for assembling and baking the rugelach

  • Working with one dough at a time and on a generously floured surface, roll out ball of dough into an 8-inch circle. Doesn’t have to be perfect but if looking for a perfect circle, I like to use a cake or pie pan to cut it out. Spread about 2 tbsp jam (a little goes a long way), leaving ¼-inch of the border untouched by jam. Using a pizza cutter, cut the dough into 12 equal triangles. Starting from the outer edges, roll up each into a cookie.
  • Place each cookie point side down on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Brush each cookie with egg wash and sprinkle polenta now if using. You may need more than1 sheet pan.
  • Bake for 16-20minutes, until golden in color. Allow them to cool on an oven rack. Store cookies in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
Keyword Cookies, Jam, Polenta, Tomatoes

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