Rugelach (the word is Yiddish for "little twists") is a popular Hanukkah pastry that's perfect for any holiday brunch. Get your kids in on the preparation -- they'll love rolling out the claylike dough and spreading the goopy, fruity filling.
Cream the butter and cream cheese in a large bowl until well blended. Stir in the salt and confectioners' sugar. Add the flour a third at a time, mixing well after each addition.
Form the dough into a ball and place it on a floured surface. With floured hands, knead it until smooth, then divide it into 2 balls. Flatten each into a 3/4-inch-thick disk. Cover both in plastic wrap, then chill them for at least 2 hours.
Line a large baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper or lightly greased aluminum foil. Set the sheet aside.
On a piece of lightly floured waxed paper, roll one of the chilled disks into a 12-inch circle, dusting the dough with flour to prevent the rolling pin from sticking. Slide the waxed paper with the pastry onto another baking sheet and chill it for another 10 minutes. Repeat the rolling and chilling with the other pastry disk.
Spread half of the cherry preserves over one of the rolled disks, leaving a 1/2-inch border and a 2-inch circle in the center uncovered to prevent jelly from oozing out later. Sprinkle half of the chopped cherries and half of the chocolate chips evenly over the preserves.
With a pastry wheel or a sharp knife, cut the dough into 12 wedges, as you would a pie. Starting at the wide end, roll up each wedge like a carpet. Place each rugelach point down on the lined baking sheet, pulling the sides down a little to form a crescent. Chill the cookies on the baking sheet for 10 minutes while you heat the oven to 350º F. Meanwhile, assemble the second batch of rugelach and chill it.
Lightly brush the chilled cookies with milk and sprinkle on a bit of sugar, then bake them on the center oven rack until lightly golden, approximately 25 minutes. Cool them briefly on the sheet, then transfer them to a wire rack with a spatula. Makes 2 dozen.