Rugelach - 12 Days Of Cookies

These aren't your Grandma's rugelach

This is the sixth in our monthlong series, 12 Days of Cookies, featuring classic and inventive recipes from across the country.

Michelle Polzine swears her poppy-seed rugelach is a classic recipe, but we can attest that the results are anything but.

Her cream-cheese dough, for one, rolls out like a dream, and bakes into the flakiest of spirals. That's no surprise coming from the James Beard Award-nominated pastry chef, who recently left Range to work on opening 20th Century Café in Hayes Valley. (Incidentally, Polzine recommends the Gina Marie cream cheese from Sierra Nevada.) 

The shocker, if you're accustomed to passing over your grandmother's poppy-seed pastries after a few too many unwelcome encounters, is how good the filling is.

When Polzine went looking for recipes for poppy-seed filling, all she could find were directions to open the can. So she concocted her own, binding the ground seeds together with honey and adding citrus zest to tame what she calls "the poppy seeds' crazy, earthy bitterness."

A final roll in cinnamon sugar gives the black-and-white-striped cookies a sparkling topcoat.

Classic, no?