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The ingredients might look the same as other recipes, but the technique is unique and the "secret" ingredient won Tina Wasserman's reputation as a baker and is now one of her most sought-after recipes. (Tina is a well-known Dallas cookbook author, chef, food columnist, and cooking instructor.) The mixing technique of the mixer allows the cream cheese and butter to really combine and become light and airy. This results in a flaky, crisp, but tender, finished product. The vigorous beating of the butter and cream cheese before adding the flour creates a light, layered dough similar to puff pastry. Rolling the dough in confectioners' sugar to give a slight glaze to the finished pastry and helps balance the richness of the dough with the sweet filling. Make sure the dough is well chilled or it will not roll out properly. *NOTE: In general, it is not a good idea to use salted butter in baked goods. However, because of the lack of liquid in rugelach dough, salted butter is the only way to get the salt evenly distributed. (The addition of a little salt is important to the flavor.)
- In a large bowl with an electric mixer on high speed, beat the cream cheese and butter until well combined and light and fluffy. (The mixture should feather out from the edge of the bowl.) Add the flour and turn your mixer on and off only until the flour has been incorporated. Transfer the dough to a work surface and lightly toss it on a smooth surface until it forms a compact mass.
- Divide the mixture into 8 portions, form each into a cylinder and refrigerate until dough is cold and firm, at least 1 hour. This is important; without chilling, the dough is difficult to handle.
- While the dough is chilling, combine the sugar, cinnamon, raisins and walnuts in a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Heavily dust a work surface with confectioners' sugar. Roll out each portion of the dough into a 6-by-9-inch rectangle. Sprinkle with some of the sugar-nut mixture. Starting at one of the long sides, tightly roll the dough into a log. Pinch the seam together and tuck the ends underneath the roll.
- Cut the filled log into 8 or 9 pieces and place, seam side down, on an ungreased baking sheet or a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Repeat with the remaining logs of dough. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden. Cool completely. May be frozen.