Traditional Hungarian Kolaches are cookies made with a cream cheese dough and filled with apricot jam; they are very common at Christmastime. These are the type of cookies that makes it hard to just have one! Perfect with an afternoon coffee on a stormy winter day!
Back in September of this year, I posted my recipe for Dried Apricot Jam, which is the jam I’m using for this recipe. If you have the time, I would highly recommend you make a small batch of the Dried Apricot Jam, because nothing is better than homemade jam in these Traditional Hungarian Apricot Kolaches!
Dried Apricot Jam is very thick, so it works very well when being baked into a cookie. I tried baking these same cookies with a marmalade, but the stuff just ran right out of the cookie and spilled onto the baking sheet. What a mess!? You need a very thick jam to get this cookie just right.
Store bought jam will work just fine too. I recommend you buy a jam that you love to eat on toast or on a scone. The jam you use in this cookie will be the dominant flavour, so be sure to use you one you really like.
WHAT IS A KOLACHE?
A kolache is basically a type of pasty that puffs up when baked, and is wrapped around a jam or a preserve of some sort. Kolaches originated as a wedding dessert in Europe, but have become quite a popular confection in North America.
I think of kolaches as a danish. Danishes are often filled with cream cheese and a fruit or berry topping. In the case of Traditional Hungarian Apricot Kolaches, the dough itself is made with cream cheese.
In fact, the dough is not comprised of much else! It’s probably one of the easiest you’ll ever make, and it’s most certainly easy to work with! Made with cream cheese, butter, and flour – it’s budget friendly too! Use full fat, good cream cheese, it really does work best!
MORE CHRISTMAS COOKIE RECIPES!
Did you know that I’ve been posting a 24 Cookies of Christmas series for a few years now? There are over 100 Christmas cookie recipes that you can find right here at Lord Byron’s Kitchen! To make it easier to find, I have created a page for each series. Just click on the image below and you’ll find the full series for that volume all one page!
FOLDING THE DOUGH OVER
The number one question I get about this recipe is how to get the dough to stay in an overlapping position while the cookies are baking. You see, Dear Reader, as that simple and delicious cream cheese dough bakes, it rises. When dough rises, it sometimes pulls in from the sides as it puffs up. Think about when you make a homemade pizza. The dough is right to the edge of the pan when it goes in the oven, but as the dough puffs us, it pulls in a bit. The same applies here.
When you fold the dough over, there are a few things you can do to make sure it stays that way. First, really pull the dough over so that it is overlapping the bottom fold quite a bit. Don’t be afraid to really lift and pull the dough. It’s very forgiving. Once folded over, gently, but firmly, push the top layer down onto the bottom layer. As long as you don’t push all of the jam out, you’re good!
One of the main causes of the folds not sticking is that the surface on which you rolled out the dough was floured to heavily. Dry flour will obviously prevent the dough from sticking to itself. Before filling the cut out dough, try brushing the dough lightly with a pastry brush to get that excess flour out of the way.
Ah! I’m glad you asked. You can use any fruit or berry combination that is thick and will not run. You can use any apple butter/jam, blueberries, raspberries, and even strawberry and rhubarb jam would work terrifically in these!
Not feeling sweet today? You could make the kolaches savoury with a dollop of spiced chutney, or a smear of sun dried tomato pesto. Add a few dried herbs like oregano or thyme to the dough to up the savoury game!
MORE CHRISTMAS CONFECTIONS!
In some cases, we want more than a cookie. That’s why I have two more Christmas-themed collections you might want to consider. The first, is my 12 Bundt Cakes of Christmas, and the second is my 12 Biscotti of Christmas. Click on the image below to see each collection all on one page with links to each recipe!
STORING, PACKAGING, AND FREEZING
Unfortunately, kolaches should never be frozen or stored for any length of time. These cookies will stay fresh for about 2 days at the most. Keep them loosely covered in a container set in a cool place. Do not refrigerate. Refrigeration will cause condensation to form and will affect the texture of the dough.
Kolaches, unfortunately, do not freeze well. Nor do they keep in the fridge. The pastry will lose its freshness rather quickly. I would recommend that you bake kolaches to enjoy the same or next day. You won’t want to store them any longer than that.
The good news is that you can make the dough up and keep it in your fridge until you’re ready to use it. It will last at least 3-4 days in there. You can bake off some now and save the dough to bake the rest later!
Traditional Hungarian Apricot Kolaches
- 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup apricot preserves
- 1/4 cup sanding sugar
- In a large mixing bowl, use a hand-held mixer to beat together the butter and the cream cheese until light and fluffy.
- Add the flour and salt. Beat into the butter mixture.
- Divide the cookie dough into four equal portions and flatten each portion to 1/2 inch thick. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.
- When ready to assemble and bake, preheat oven to 375 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
- Remove one portion of the dough from the fridge and roll to 1/8th of an inch thick on a lightly floured surface. The dough is sticky so be sure to flour your rolling pin too.
- Cut the rolled dough into 2 inch squares. Remove scrap dough to the side to use later once the currant batch is baking.
- Place one tablespoon of the apricot preserves into the center of each square of dough. Gently fold up two opposite corners so that the slightly overlap. Push down just slightly with your finger to seal the dough together.
- Transfer the cookies to the baking sheet, leaving at least 2 inches of space between each cookie.
- Sprinkle each cookie with a little sanding sugar and bake for 12 minutes or until the edges are a light golden brown.
- Remove from oven and allow cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes. Then, remove the cookies from the baking sheet to a wire cooling rack to finish cooling.
- Repeat steps 5 to 10 with the remaining 3 portions of dough in your fridge.