These Israeli Chocolate Rugelach made with Yeast are the most delicious and decadent treats to enjoy for breakfast, afternoon tea or as a sweet snack. The traditional Jewish Chocolate Pastries are both fluffy and flakey. Simply irresistible!
Why we love this recipe
If you are looking for a Chocolate Rugelach without Cream Cheese, this might be exactly what you are after. I'm talking about the Israeli version of the Cream Cheese based Rugelach usually found in the US; the ones made with Yeast and a Cacao Paste.
These Chocolate Rugelach are probably my favourite thing to eat when visiting Israel - and the best gift you can bring me back from there! No hard, cookie-like treats here; just some decadent little pillows rolled around an intense chocolate filling and finished with a shiny sugar glaze.
What are Rugelach?
Rugelach are a traditional Ashkenazi Jewish treat made from a sweet yeast dough folded over a filling of your choice. Although the American version uses Cream Cheese for the dough, these Israeli-style Rugelach are made from a yeasted enriched dough that is quite similar to a Babka.
These ridiculously addictive little chocolate pastries have a distinctive texture created by combining the fluffy yeasted dough with a rolling and folding technique similar to a laminated dough.
These are Parve Rugelach, which means that they are Dairy-Free and made with Oil instead of Butter. There are three sets of ingredients: for the dough, the filling and the sugar glaze (which is optional, but add a needed sweetness to the treats).
Pastry Dough (scroll down to recipe card for all quantities):
- Water: slightly warm to activate the yeast. It should be at around 38'C/100'F or the temperature of your body. If you don't have a thermometer, simply use your finger; you shouldn't feel much difference between the temperature of water and your finger!
- Yeast: Instant/Active Dry Yeast. You can use Instant Yeast as well, which does not need to be rehydrated in water. You can read more about the different types of yeast here.
- Sugar: Fine White Granulated Sugar, or Caster Sugar
- Eggs: medium size, at room temperature.
- Oil: Canola Oil, or your choice of flavour-neutral cooking oil.
- Flour: Plain / All-Purpose Flour, well sifted. A little bit of Salt and Cinnamon will need to be added too.
Chocolate Filling (scroll down to recipe card for all quantities)::
- Cacao: Unsweetened Cacao Powder, well sifted.
- Sugar: I used Fine White Sugar but you could use Brown Sugar too instead.
- Oil: I used Canola Oil, but you can use any flavour-neutral cooking oil you want.
- Cinnamon: optional
Sugar Syrup Glaze (scroll down to recipe card for all quantities):
- a simple combination of Water and Fine White Sugar.
How to make Yeasted Rugelach
The first step is to prepare the Rugelach Dough with Yeast. Make sure you have enough time in front of you as it will take about 1 to 2 hours to proove.
- Slightly heat up the Water to be around 38'C/100'F, then whisk in the Yeast and one tablespoon of Sugar. Set aside for about 10 minutes, or until you see small bubbles / froth at the surface. That means that the yeast is active. - photo 1
- Whisk in the Eggs and Oil. - photo 2
- Place the Flour, the rest of the Sugar and the Cinnamon in the bowl of your mixer and stir to combine. Create a well at the centre of the bowl. - photo 3
- Pour in the liquids. - photo 4
- With the Dough Hook fitting, knead the dough on medium high speed for about 8 to 10 minutes (more or less) or until smooth, soft and stretchy. You can mix the ingredients with a stiff spatula or wooden spoon at the start if you want. After a couple of minutes, add the Salt.
- Move the dough into a slightly greased large mixing bowl and cover with a tea towel. Leave to proof for 1 to 1,5 hours, or until doubled in size. - photo 5 & 6
Once the dough is ready, prepare the filling.
- Place the Sifted Cacao Powder, Cinnamon, Sugar and Oil in a small Mixing Bowl. - photo 7
- Mix together to obtain a thick spread. I recommend tasting the chocolate filling at this point and adjust the sweetness level to your liking by adding more sugar if needed. - photo 8
Now that the two elements are ready, it is time to assemble the chocolate rugelach!
- Punch the air out of the dough then transfer it on a lightly floured surface. Split the dough into two equal pieces and set one aside. Roll the first half into a large rectangle with a rolling pin (about 30x50 cm or 12x20 inch), as thin as possible without breaking. - photo 9
- Spread half of the chocolate filling over the dough, using the back of a spoon or an offset spatula. - photo 10
- Fold the dough in half on its longer side, then carefully roll it again as thinly as possible with a rolling pin to flatten it as much as you can. The dough should look almost translucent. Some chocolate filling might start to come out of the dough, it is messy but normal! - photo 11
- Cut out small triangles of dough, using a sharp knife or a pizza roller. The wider the triangles, the larger the rugelach crescents will be - photo 12
- Carefully move each triangle and roll it into a crescent, starting from the wider end and making your way towards the pointy side. Turn each rugelach so that the pointy end faces down, which will insure the pastries keep their shape when baking. - photo 13
- Place each pastries on a large baking tray lined with baking paper or a baking mat. Leave enough space between each rugelach as they will expend and rise. - photo 13
- Optionally, brush them with the Egg Wash (egg yolk + water) to get a golden colour.
- Repeat the process with the second half of dough and filling.
- Set aside to proof for a second time for about 20 to 30 minutes.
- Preheat your oven on 180'C/350'F, then bake for approximatively 20 minutes, or until the rugelach have risen and have a golden colour.
- While the Chocolate Rugelach are baking, prepare the Sugar Syrup by mixing the Sugar and Water in a small saucepan. Turn on medium heat and leave to simmer until the syrup starts to thicken. It should slowly drip back down if you lift if with a spoon. If it pour straight back, it hasn't cooked for long enough. It it stays on the spoon, you have overcooked it.
- Brush the Sugar Syrup over the Rugelach as soon as they come out of the oven, while both are still hot. If the syrup seems to harden, re-heat for a couple of minutes to melt. Set aside until completely cool.
Tips for Success
- To know that the water has the right temperature if you do not have a thermometer, use your finger. The water should be at about the same temperature of your body, so you shouldn't feel much of a difference when you place your finger in the water.
- Kneading time may vary based on different factors like the speed of your mixer or the brand of flour you use. Make sure the dough is smooth, soft and stretchy. If you pull and stretch a small bit, you should be able to see through the dough without ripping.
- Proofing time may vary depending on the temperature of your kitchen. The dough should have double in volume (estimate) and if you gently press on it, it should slowly bounce back but leave a small indent.
- Roll the dough as thinly as possible (without ripping it of course) to get as many layers as possible when you roll it into a crescent. This is key to create a light yet flakey pastry!
- Brush a little bit of Egg Yolk (on its own or mixed with a little bit of milk or water) to get a golden brown colour over the rugelach.
- Brush the Sugar Syrup over the chocolate rugelach while both the syrup and the pastries are still warm to get an even coating. If the syrup starts to harden, reheat on low heat for a couple of minutes to melt it again.
Absolutely, you do not need a stand mixer to make yeasted pastries, but it does make the whole process much easier. To make by hands, knead the dough on a lightly floured (or greased) surface for about 15 minutes.
Some people like to use a simple Chocolate Spread or melted chocolate instead of the Cacao Paste. It will all work, but I personally prefer the traditional cacao paste over melted chocolate that can easily burn in the oven, or the chocolate spread that can be overly sweet.
They can be stored at room temperature, in an air-tight container or well covered, and will last for up to 3 days. They are best eaten fresh - and probably won't last that long!
Yes you can, although they will have a better texture when served fresh.
More Chocolate Treats
- Peanut Butter Chocolate Muffins
- Double Chocolate Scones
- Chocolate Orange Brownies
- Mini Chocolate Brownie Bites
- Chocolate Cornflake Cakes
- Double Chocolate Zucchini Muffins
- Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Blondies
- Raspberry Brownies
Made this recipe? Let us know if you liked it by leaving a comment and rating below! And don't forget to share your creation on Instagram with the hashtag #abakingjourney and tag @a.baking.journey
Israeli Chocolate Rugelach (with Yeast)
- 180 ml (3/4 cup) Water - lukewarm
- 7 gr (1 1/2 teasp) Instant Dry Yeast
- 90 ml (1/3 cup) Canola Oil - or Neutral-Flavoured Cooking Oil
- 2 Eggs - at room temperature
- 500 to 550 gr (3 1/3 to 3 2/3 cup) Plain / All Purpose Flour
- 75 gr (1/3 cup) Caster Sugar - or Fine White Granulated Sugar
- 1 teasp. Ground Cinnamon - optional
- 1/2 teasp. Table Salt
- 50 gr (4 1/2 tablesp.) Cacao Powder - Unsweetened
- 80 gr (1/3 cup) Caster Sugar - or Fine White Granulated Sugar
- 1 1/2 teasp. Ground Cinnamon - optional
- 45 ml (3 tablesp.) Canola Oil - or Neutral-Flavoured Cooking Oil
Egg Wash (optional)
- 1 Egg Yolk
- 1 tablesp. Water
Sugar Syrup Glaze
- 50 gr (2 1/2 tablesp.) Caster Sugar - or Fine White Granulated Sugar
- 50 ml (3 tablesp. + 1/3 teasp.) Water
- Heat up the water to be lukewarm (about 38'C/100'F), then mix in the Yeast and one tablespoon of Sugar. Stir and set aside for 5 to 10 minutes, or until the you see small bubbles or froth on the surface (see note 1). Whisk in the Oil and Eggs.
- In the bowl of your stand mixer (or a large mixing bowl if making my hands), mix together the Flour, rest of the Sugar and Cinnamon. Make a well at the centre of the bowl and pour in the Liquids.
- Knead with the hook attachment for about 8 to 10 minutes on medium high speed. After a couple of minutes of kneading, add the Salt. The dough should be soft, smooth and stretchy (see note 2).
- Place the dough in a large, slightly greased bowl. Cover with a tea towel and leave to proof if a warm place for 1 to 1,5 hours, or until doubled in size.
- Mix together the Cacao, Sugar, Cinnamon and Oil to get a thick paste (see note 3).
Assembling the Rugelach
- Punch the air out of the proofed dough and cut it in half. Set one half aside. On a lightly floured surface, roll the second half of dough into a large rectangle about 30x50 cm / 12x20 inch.
- Spread half of the Chocolate Filling over the rolled dough, then fold it in half on its longest side. Roll again with a rolling pin, trying to get the dough as thin as possible without ripping. You should get a very large and thin rectangle and be able to see the filling through the dough.
- Use a sharp knife or a pizza cutter/wheel to cut the dough into triangles (see note 4). Roll each triangle into a crescent, starting from the largest side and rolling towards the pointy end (see note 5).
- Place on a large baking tray lined with baking paper or a baking mat, leaving space between each rugelach as they will expand and rise.
- Repeat the process with the second half of the dough, then set aside to proof for 20 to 30 minutes.
- Optional: whisk an Egg Yolk and Water to make the Egg Wash, and gently brush it over each Rugelach.
- Preheat your oven on 180'C/350'F, then bake for about 20 minutes or until each pastries has risen and looks golden.
Sugar Syrup Glaze
- While the rugelach are baking, prepare the glaze. Mix the Water and Sugar in a small saucepan and turn on medium low heat. Leave to simmer for a few minutes, until you get a thicker syrup consistancy (see note 6). Keep warm until ready to brush.
- Brush on the Rugelach as soon as they come out of the oven, then set them all aside to cool down completely.
- The bubbles/froth indicate that the Yeast is alive and activated, and the warm water will help the process. If are 10 minutes or so, you still do not see a reaction, it is possible that the yeast is not alive and you will need to start again with another batch of yeast. If using Instant Yeast, it does not need to be activated in the water and can be added with the rest of the dry ingredients directly.
- To know that the dough has been kneaded enough, pull and stretch a small bit of dough. It should easily stretch out and you should be able to see through the dough without it ripping.
- Taste and adjust the sweetness level to your liking if desired.
- The wider the triangles are, the bigger the rugelach will be.
- The 'pointy' end of the rugelach should face down so that it does not lift up while baking.
- The syrup should still be slightly runny. If very liquid, keep cooking. If thick, you have cooked it for too long. It should be able to be brushed over the warm rugelach but thick enough to stick enough and not drip straight down. If the glaze starts to harden when you are brushing it over the rugelach, reheat for a couple of minutes to melt the sugar again.