Gluten Free Apple Butter Rugelach

Tender and flaky, this gluten free rugelach cookie is filled with spiced apple butter and crushed apple chips.  These little treats are light on the sugar and heavy on the yum!

When my children were younger one of our favorite vacation spots was Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.  My boys loved to watch the horse buggies go by and simply adored all of the train themed attractions in the area.   We would typically take our trips at the end of September.  I would rationalize that there were fewer crowds and that lodging was cheaper, but in reality, I was planning our trip around the area’s abundant apple season.

There is a little family market located in the quaint town of Bird-in-Hand that we always frequented.  They run an orchard and from the bounty make some of the best apple butter that I have ever tasted.   It is smooth, thick, and brimming with flavor.  It is perfect to spread on toast, bagels, or crackers.  However, I must admit that most of the time, my family eats the apple butter by the spoonful straight from the jar.  I’m telling you, it’s just amazing (and this is NOT a sponsored or paid post – just my honest opinion).

Apple butter was the inspiration for my rugelach recipe that I am sharing today.

I have always loved rugelach.  They are little flaky bundles of goodness.  The dough comes together in a snap, and the filling possibilities are virtually endless.  I remember my grandmother making a raisin filled rugelach.  My first rugelach recipe was double chocolate.  Today’s rugelach recipe that I am sharing is all about the apple.

Let’s start with the dough.  A traditional rugelach dough contains both butter and cream cheese.  The two marry together so well and make for a deliciously flaky dough. The dough is only lightly sweetened, or in some cases, not sweetened at all.   The majority of the sweetness is left to the filling.

There are two schools of thought when determining how to roll your rugelach.  Many people opt to roll out the dough into a disc and slice it into wedges.  From there they roll up the wedges into crescents.  The other school, which I adhere to, rolls out the dough into a rectangle.  Then much like a jelly roll, the dough is filled  and rolled into one long tube.  From there the tube is sliced into equal pieces.   It’s all just a matter of preference.  I opt for the tube process simply because of aesthetics.  I love to see the swirls of filling inside each piece of rugelach.

Now for the filling.  I wanted this filling to scream apples.  I opted to use unsweetened, spiced apple butter for the filling.  That was a good start, but to get a real apple punch, I added pulverized apple chips.  I placed the baked apple chips into the food processor and pulsed a few times.  The majority of the chips were crushed but a few small pieces remained.  You do want some small pieces to remain.  After spreading the apple butter onto the dough, I sprinkled the crushed apple chips on top.  That’s the filling (and it’s good).

I will be sharing another of my favorite rugelach recipes in December, but for now I hope that you will enjoy these delicious treats.

Gluten Free Apple Butter Rugelach
makes 12

Dough:
1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter, cold
4 oz. cold cream cheese
3 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 cup gluten free flour with xanthan gum (I used Bob’s 1 to 1)
1/4 cup potato starch
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Filling:
1/3 cup unsweetened, spiced apple butter ** (I used Vermont Village Organic)
1 cup apple chips, crushed (I used Bare Apple Chips)

2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon granulated sugar

2 tablespoons powdered sugar

Cut the butter into small chunks.  Add the butter and cream cheese to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.  The butter and cream cheese should be taken directly from the refrigerator prior to use.  You want to work with them while they are cold.  Mix them together until combined and smooth, about 2 minutes (be sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed).

Remove the paddle attachment from the mixer.

Add the flour, potato starch, powdered sugar, and cinnamon to the bowl.  Using your hands and NOT the mixer, lightly mix the ingredients together.  You want the dough to come together by simply using your fingertips to turn the dough over repeatedly.

Once all of the dry ingredients are incorporated into the butter, you can lightly press the dough together into a small rectangle.  Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Dust a hard surface with a tablespoon of powdered sugar.  Unroll the dough and lightly dust the top of the dough and a rolling pin with powdered sugar (about 1 tablespoon).  Roll the dough out into a rectangle that measures 13″ x 10″.  If the edges are very jagged you can trim them off with a knife.

Spread the apple butter onto the dough leaving a 1/2″ border all the way around.

Let me take a moment and discuss the variations in apple butter.  The apple butter that I used in this recipe was quite thick and was not watery.  It makes for the perfect filling.  If you opt to use a different apple butter with a higher water content, you do run the risk of having a soggy mess.  If you find that your apple butter is loose, I would suggest stirring 1 teaspoon of potato starch into the apple butter prior to spreading it out onto the dough. This should help to contain the moisture.

Place the apple chips into a food processor.  Pulse several times to crush.  The result should be a fine powder with some small pieces remaining intact.  Sprinkle the processed apple chips over the surface of the dough (on top of the apple butter).

Now, roll up the dough.  You want to begin at one long end and roll snuggly.  It you leave too much space and opt to roll the dough loosely, you will have air gaps in your rugelach.  So roll snuggly but not so tight that all of the filling squishes out.   Once the roll comes together trim 1/2″ off of each end.  Discard.  Wrap the roll in plastic wrap and place in the freezer for 20 – 30  minutes until just firm (not frozen).

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Line a standard baking sheet with parchment paper.

Unroll the dough and using a serrated knife, cut into 12 equal pieces.  I like to cut the roll in half first, then cut 6 slices from each half.  Place each cookie onto the baking sheet leaving at least 2 inches between each.  The swirled sides should be facing outward.

Brush the tops with a bit of cream.  Sprinkle the tops with granulated sugar.

Bake for 15-17 minutes or until golden brown.

Allow to cool for 30 minutes before eating.

If desired, place 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar into a handheld sifter and dust the cookies.

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