Who doesn’t love tender, melt-in-your-mouth buttery, flaky pastry cookies, filled with fruit filling and sprinkled with sugar? From start to finish, I make these addictive apricot and raspberry cookies just like my great grandparents did.
Although these are a traditional Christmas cookie, they’re famously found alongside Cream Cheese Kolache and Nut Kolache on Wedding Cookie Tables throughout northeast Ohio and Pennsylvania, and devoured at all holidays and gatherings. Paired with your favorite fruit, cream cheese or nut filling, these are also perfect for garden teas or baby & bridal showers!
WHAT EXACTLY ARE KOLACHE COOKIES?
JAM-FILLED KOLACHE COOKIES WITH CREAM CHEESE PASTRY
Who doesn’t love tender, melt-in-your-mouth buttery, flaky pastry cookies, filled with fruit filling and sprinkled with sugar? Paired with your favorite fruit, cream cheese or nut filling, these are also perfect for garden teas or baby & bridal showers!
From start to finish, I make these addictive apricot and raspberry cookies just like my great grandparents did. Although these are a traditional Christmas cookie, they’re famously found on Wedding Cookie Tables throughout northeast Ohio and Pennsylvania, and devoured at all holidays and gatherings.
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter (softened to room temperature)
8 oz. cream cheese (softened to room temperature)
2 1/4 cups (280g) all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
Granulated sugar (optional for sprinkling)
Powdered sugar (optional for dusting)
Filling: You’ll need about ½ cup filling for each batch of this recipe.
- Solo Cake & Pastry Fillings are ultra-traditional, in part because of their thick textures, and in part because in addition to traditional fruit filling, they also make Polish-centric flavors like prune, plum, poppy seed and almond. Some bakeries also sell bags of fruit filling during the holidays, specifically for these cookies.
- Fruit Filling: That being said, I typically use high quality fruit jams and preserves. They have the advantage of being readily available, and high quality brands come in an amazing array of colors and flavors. If you have a favorite homemade jam, that works too! Apricot and Raspberry are our favorites, but we also like Cherry, Blueberry, Strawberry, Peach, or for something special and unique, Lemon Curd or Lime Curd are wonderful! Make sure to use high quality fruit preserves that are very thick. If you use a cheaper jam or jelly, it will melt and run out of the cookies and all over the baking sheet. And as much as we love fruit spreads, they also have a tendency to spread too much.
- Also, if your Fruit Filling has chunks of fruit, blend it in a food processor until smooth for best results.
- Cream Cheese Filling: 4 oz. cream cheese (softened to room temperature) and 2 Tablespoons powdered sugar, whipped together until light and fluffy.
- Cream Cheese & Fruit Filling: Spread a scant ½ teaspoon Cream Cheese filling in center of each cookie and then top with another ½ teaspoon fruit filling.
- Walnut Filling: 2 cups ground walnuts (7.5 oz.), ¾ cup sugar and ¼ cup hot water, stirred together until well blended.
HOW I MAKE THESE:
- PREPARE DOUGH: Remove butter and cream cheese from the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature.
- Add cream cheese and butter together into a bowl of a stand mixer. Cream together until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes.
- Reduce the speed of the mix and slowly add in the flour and salt, mixing just until incorporated, but don't overmix. The dough will be soft but not sticky.
- Divide the dough into 4 equal parts and flatten each to ¾” thick. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, at least 2 hours.
- ASSEMBLING THE KOLACHES: After chilling the dough, preheat the oven to 375 degrees; move the oven rack one setting higher than the center. Line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper.
- Take one of the disks of dough from the refrigerator and lightly flour both sides. OPTIONAL: Spread granulated sugar on your pastry board or work surface.
- Place the dough on top and roll pastry to 1/16” to 1/8” thick. Most recipes say 1/8” thick, but you want the dough to be as thin as you can make it.
- With a pastry wheel, pizza cutter or sharp knife, trim the dough into a square and then cut the square into 16 smaller squares. My dough never rolls out into a perfect rectangle, so just cut as many 2-inch squares as possible, saving the scraps for later.
- For Fruit Filling, place a dollop (about 1 teaspoon) of fruit pastry filling or preserves in the center of each square.
- For Cream Cheese Filling, place a dollop (about 1 teaspoon) of filling into the center of each square (this is optional – we prefer ours with just a fruit filling).
- Gently grab two opposite corners and fold one over the other, slightly overlappoing the edges, gently pressing down to try and lightly pinch the seam together. Before pinching together, I recommend sealing the seam with water – dip your fingertip in room temp water and use it as a “glue” to hold the center together before pinching it together. Carefully take two opposite corners of the square and overlap them in the middle over your fruit filling.
- Be sure that the outside corner adheres to the dough when you close it. Otherwise, it will pop open while baking.
- If your dough is too dry to get them to stay closed, you can lightly wet your fingers with water and moisten the dough to get them to stick together.
- Gently move to the parchment covered baking sheet, placing the kolaches no closer than 1” apart. Sprinkle tops with granulated or sparkling sugar (optional).
- Bake on baking sheet for about 12-14 minutes, or until the bottoms just start to turn lightly golden around the edges.
- Remove from oven cool slightly on the pan for 5 minutes; place gently on a wire rack to cool complete.
- Repeat with all remaining dough, refrigerate and re-roll your scraps.
- Store in an airtight container at room temperature for 3 days or in the refrigerator for 5 days. Baked cookies can be frozen up to 30 days – thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
- Before serving, sprinkle with powdered sugar (optional).
RECIPE TIPS & TRICKS:
- CHILL THE DOUGH: You will have best results if you chill the dough after forming it into discs. If your kitchen or the dough gets too warm, it can cause the butter in the pastry to begin softening and makes it very difficult to handle.
- WHAT’S THE BEST WAY TO CUT THESE COOKIES? You can use a pastry wheel, pizza cutter or sharp knife, or even a square or scalloped square cookie cutter! For something different, you can also use a large circle cookie cutter. For a beginner, cookie cutters will give you the most consistent results.
- DANGER – DON’T OVERFILL! Too much filling will make these cookies open up when baking. It is easy to overfill thinking that you want more filling in each bite of cookie – and you may think that any extra would just run out the ends – and it will, but it will also steam or bubble the cookie open in the process. Because these are such small cookies, they are easy to overfill, which will cause the cookie to open up as it bakes and you risk your filling oozing out onto the pan – you don’t want that!
- WHAT’S THE BEST WAY TO SEAL THE MIDDLE OF THESE COOKIES? Every kolache recipe tells you to bring the edges of the dough together and press lightly to seal. What most writers omit is how finicky those little cookies can be. One tray might come out perfectly, while the next might have a few, most, or even all the kolache popping open in the oven. Rather than just pinching the tips together, I fold one flap over the other, sealing the edges with the tiniest bit of water – lightly wet your fingertip with water and moisten the dough with your fingertip, and then give the middle a good pinch to get them to stick together. I find I have the best results using this method!
- SUGAR OPTIONS: Although optional, the granulated sugar coating makes these truly special! Rolling the dough out in sugar is not traditional, but it when baked, the sugar caramelizes on the bottom and the resulting flavor combination is truly something special!
- TRADITIONAL POWDERED SUGAR: For a more traditional cookie, omit sprinkling cookie dough with granulated sugar before baking, and dust the final, cooled cookie with powdered sugar right before serving.
- SPARKLING SUGAR: For a little something special, you can also lightly sprinkle the top of each cookie with sparkling sugar before baking.
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