Such a flake

Where can you find tasty chocolate rugelach in Jerusalem? It isn’t as easy as it sounds.

Rugelach (photo credit: AMY SPIRO)
(photo credit: AMY SPIRO)
Before I started my rugelach journey for this installment of Tried and Tasted, I imagined that I’d find mostly positive results. After all, the chocolate yeast delicacies are practically a Jerusalem staple, seen at every kiddush, bar mitzva, birthday party, office meeting, Shabbat afternoon spread or hotel buffet. Something so ubiquitous must be good, no? Turns out, I was wrong. All this time, I’ve been popping rugelach into my mouth – while lazing around on Friday night, a late night at work or a quick snack from a bakery – without really tasting them. It was there, it had chocolate and dough, so I ate it. But once I started tasting rugelach – really tasting them – I realized that most are just not good at all.
The biggest offense was the complete lack of chocolate filling: some had practically none, others had just enough to notice but make you wish you hadn’t, with artificial flavor and toothaching amounts of sugar. Most places that sell chocolate rugelach also offer varieties with cinnamon; perhaps those aren’t as disappointing? A column for another time, I suppose.
If you’re really in a fix, there are a few places you can get rugelach that won’t leave you disappointed, but I would rather recommend a different treat entirely.
French macarons perhaps? Better yet, how about a scoop of ice cream?
What first catches your eye about Berman’s rugelach is the chocolate oozing out all over the outside. Unlike the majority of the rugelach I tasted, these had a genuine chocolate flavor, and a generous amount of filling. If I were Goldilocks, I’d pronounce the size of rugelach at Berman Bakery “just right.” Not tiny like some or massive like others, they’re a good two or three bites, and actually worth it. They also have a soft flaky dough with a nice crisp bite to the outermost layer.
NIS 49.90 per kilo 42 Agrippas Street and 24 Beit Hadfus Street
Sure, this bakery is named for burekas, but step inside and you’ll be almost overwhelmed by the variety of pastries and cookies available for sale. Of course, among those are chocolate rugelach, which have a nice crisp bite to the outside with soft, chewy layers inside. There is a moderate amount of chocolate, and though it is slightly over-sweet, there is still a detectable chocolate flavor.
NIS 48 per kilo 17 Rivka Street
The chocolate rugelach at English Cake are pretty large, more than a couple of bites (unless you’re a competitive eater). They have a good balanced level of sweetness, and though there isn’t quite enough chocolate filling, the taste has a hint of real cocoa sorely missing in most other offerings.
NIS 45 per kilo Six locations in Jerusalem
If you want to feel like a giant, visit Mifgash Hasheikh and partake in two, three or four of their teeny tiny chocolate rugelach. They come with or without sesame seeds, and have a very soft dough, without any crust.
There isn’t a whole lot of chocolate, but still enough to be noticeable, although its flavor is slightly less than genuine. They’re also a bit oily on the outside.
NIS 49 per kilo 23 Ha’uman Street, 22 Hillel Street, Malha Mall and Mahaneh Yehuda
If you ask any Anglo in Jerusalem about chocolate rugelach, nine out of 10 will say one word: Marzipan.
Tourists ship them back to the States, seminary students fill up their suitcases with them and the place is so packed on a Friday afternoon you can barely breathe. So, while this may get me death threats (please send them care of The Jerusalem Post), I’m just not a huge fan of Marzipan’s rugelach. They’re known for being oozy and gooey and they are, mostly because they taste undercooked. They’re also a bit too sweet, and have an oily sheen on the outside – though what they do have going for them is a generous amount of chocolate filling.
NIS 38 per kilo 14 Agrippas Street, 5 Rahel Imenu Street and 17 Tiferet Yisrael Street
The offerings at Pe’er bakery also sadly fell in the category of toothachingly sweet, with the sugary taste dominating any chocolate flavor there might have been. They are also a bit damp and oily on the outside, though the dough has a lot of flaky layers, which are welcome. There is a mild chocolate flavor, but it isn’t enough to overcome the cloying sweetness.
NIS 36 per kilo 5 Hamagid Street and Mahaneh Yehuda
The first thing you’ll likely notice about the rugelach at Ne’eman Bakery is the size: they’re enormous. But bigger isn’t always better, and though they have some redeeming qualities, overall they were disappointing. The dough has a nice flake to it, with lots and lots of layers, and though there’s a decent amount of chocolate, it has a fairly artificial flavor. The dominant flavor is sugar.
NIS 40 per kilo 20 locations across Jerusalem
Angel’s chocolate rugelach are quite large, but they have almost no filling – both the eye and the palate had a hard time discerning any chocolate.
Still, the dough was soft yet still flaky, with lots of light layers inside.
NIS 39.90 per kilo
A dozen locations in Jerusalem Next month I’m tasting hamentashen, of course! Where can I go that I won’t be disappointed? Email with suggestions.