Apricot Kolaches – A Traditional Hungarian Christmas Cookie

Traditional Hungarian Apricot Kolaches | My Hungarian husband's favorite Christmas Cookie recipe! He says they taste just like his grandma used to make!

I had other (healthier) plans for today’s post but these little, two-bite Hungarian Christmas Cookies (Kiffles / Kolaches) are just too good not to share immediately! So good, in fact, there were barely enough left to photograph this morning! [Oops]

Traditional Hungarian Apricot Kolaches | My Hungarian husband's favorite Christmas Cookie recipe! He says they taste just like his grandma used to make!

Sweet, crispy and addicting, these Apricot Kolaches are sensational! The apricot filling is just the right amount of sweet to set off the flakey, buttery pastry.

Traditional Hungarian Apricot Kolaches | My Hungarian husband's favorite Christmas Cookie recipe! He says they taste just like his grandma used to make!

In an attempt to get these little kolaches as close to my Husband’s Hungarian Grandmother’s as possible, I would make a batch and then call him into the kitchen for an inspection and a taste test. The first batch needed to be thinner and he remembered that hers had a granulated sugar coating.

 Traditional Hungarian Apricot Kolaches | My Hungarian husband's favorite Christmas Cookie recipe! He says they taste just like his grandma used to make!

Oh, the addition of the granulated sugar coating elevated these little kolaches far above the rest! Based on my extensive Internet research, rolling the dough out in sugar is not traditional. In fact, I couldn’t find it anywhere! Grandmother Szabo put her own twist on these traditional Christmas cookies and it was magical!

Traditional Hungarian Apricot Kolaches | My Hungarian husband's favorite Christmas Cookie recipe! He says they taste just like his grandma used to make!

 The sugar caramelized on the bottom and the resulting flavor combination is something I’ve never experienced. It is no wonder that my Husband remembers these kolaches from so long ago. They are truly something special.

Traditional Hungarian Apricot Kolaches | My Hungarian husband's favorite Christmas Cookie recipe! He says they taste just like his grandma used to make!

I made a traditional Hungarian apricot filling but next time I’m going to try apple and cherry (in addition to apricot, obviously)!

Apricot Kolaches – An Hungarian Christmas Cookie

Yield: 64

Apricot Kolaches – An Hungarian Christmas Cookie

Sweet, crispy and addicting, these Apricot Kolaches are sensational! The filling is just the right amount of sweet to set off the flakey, buttery pastry.

Ingredients

    For the Pastry:
  • 2 ¼ cups all purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ cup granulated sugar for rolling
  • For the Apricot Filling:
  • 1 lb dried apricots
  • 1 cup sugar

Instructions

    To make the Apricot Filling:
  1. Place dried apricots in a small saucepan and pour in just enough water to cover the apricots. Boil until the apricots are soft. Do not let all the water evaporate. Add a little bit more to keep the filling from burning if necessary.
  2. Add the sugar and continue to cook until thick.
  3. Either puree in a food processor or with an immersion blender in a bowl. If the filling is too runny, return it to the sauce pot to continue to cook.
  4. Note: You can make the filling ahead of time and freeze it until you are ready to use it. Just thaw at room temperature when you are ready to use.
  5. For the Pastry Dough:
  6. Sift flour and salt together in a medium bowl and set aside.
  7. Beat the cream cheese and butter together with a stand mixer or a hand mixer until completely incorporated and creamy (3-5 minutes).
  8. Reduce the speed of the mixer and slowly add in the flour. I used 5 additions and completely mixed in the flour each time. The dough will be soft but not sticky.
  9. Divide the dough into 4 equal parts and flatten each to ¾” thick. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until hard, at least 2 hours.
  10. Assembling the Kolaches:
  11. Pre-heat the oven to 375°. Move the oven rack one setting higher than the center.
  12. Take one of the disks of dough from the refrigerator and lightly flour both sides. Spread granulated sugar on your pastry board or work surface. Place the dough on top and roll out pastry to 1/16” to 1/8” thick. Most recipes say 1/8” but my Husband remembered them being thinner.
  13. With a pastry wheel or sharp knife, trim the dough into a square and then cut the square into 16 smaller squares. My dough never rolled out into a perfect circle so I would just cut as many 1 1/2 “ squares as possible, saving the scraps for later.
  14. Place a dollop of filling into the center of each square. I used ½ teaspoon to ¾ teaspoon for each.
  15. Gently grab two opposite corners and fold one over the other, gently pressing down to try and seal them together. Gently move it to a parchment covered baking sheet. Repeat with all remaining squares, placing the kolaches no closer than 1” apart.
  16. Sprinkle the middles of the kolaches with just a touch of granulated sugar.
  17. Bake 12-14 minutes or until the bottom edges are a golden and you can smell them. Let cool slightly on the pan on a wire rack and then move them gently to a wire rack to cool completely.
  18. Repeat with all remaining dough. Refrigerate and re-roll your scraps. Amazing.

Notes:

Notes: You will have lots of filling left over. If you don’t want to freeze the remainder, you can probably halve the recipe above. You can also use prepared pastry, not pie, filling, but there are so many additives that the minimal extra effort is totally worth making homemade.

For a more traditional cookie, you can omit the granulated sugar and dust the final, cooled cookie with powdered sugar.

http://americanheritagecooking.com/2013/12/apricot-kolaches-hungarian-christmas-cookie/

Recipe by June Meyer via Just A Pinch

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This recipe is linked to: Inspiration Monday, Merry Monday, Munching Monday, Monday Funday, Two Cup Tuesday, Tasty Tuesday, Party Time, Moonlight & Mason Jars, Gluten Free Wednesday, What’s Cookin’ Wednesday, Gluten Free Friday, Foodie Friday, Food on Friday, Flashback Friday, Saturday Night Fever


Comments

      • Lynn Hale says

        My late mom used to make these and they were to die for! She used to roll the dough out using confectioner’s sugar instead of flour. I can still remember the crunchy sugar and the tart apricot – YUM!!! Looking forward to trying your recipe!

  1. Gina Komuves-Barta says

    Very pretty! Try using Lekvar (a wonderful paste made from prunes) and gently sprinkling with finely chopped walnuts. This is one of the variations my family makes every year! Boldog Karácsonyt! Merry Christmas!

    • AmericanCooking22 says

      I most certainly will! That sounds wonderful! I tried a walnut and apple variation the other night – all delicious! Merry Christmas to you too!

      • says

        I have made Kolaches a few times but not this recipe, I have had some problems where the cookies come undone while baking…I pinched dough together but they open up in oven? My husband loves these cookies at Christmas time, would like to try again, any ideas what I did wrong? Is there a trick to keep the cookies from opening up? Thank you for any help!!!

        • AmericanCooking22 says

          Hi Joanie! I haven’t really had any trouble with mine opening up while baking, but I have only tried this recipe. The only time mine opened up was when I put too much filling and there wasn’t enough dough overlap. I just fold them over and gently press down. I suggest you try this one and see how you like it! Happy baking!

  2. Candie says

    These are very similar to what my grandma made. Ours were slightly different shaped and we called them balish (no clue of the correct spelling of that). They were also rolled in granular sugar then dusted with powder sugar when out of the oven. We always had apricot, poppyseed and a walnut filling. Wonderful memories!

    • AmericanCooking22 says

      Are they! Were yours more like a roll, like these walnut rolls? That walnut filling in the rolls is DELICIOUS! I’ll have to dust some powdered sugar on them too. The more the merrier! My husband’s grandmother rolled her kolaches out in sugar too which creates a yummy caramelized bottom! I have yet to try a poppyseed filling but it is on my list!

  3. maryellen says

    I have looked at many different recipes for kolaches and none of them are like my grandma’s who is from Hungary in ours instead of cream cheese we use cottage cheese they have always been a favorite of our family.

    • AmericanCooking22 says

      Hi Mary Ellen, That is an interesting idea! I’ll search for a recipe that uses cottage cheese. I have 3 different books (some old and some modern) and they all call for cream cheese!

    • AmericanCooking22 says

      Hi Stacy, I store these between sheets of parchment paper in a cookie tin that isn’t 100% airtight for up to 5 days at room temperature. You can store them in rubbermaid containers but they will lose a little of the crunch from the outsides. The refrigerator will also make them soft! Happy baking!

  4. Will Smith says

    These cookies bring back so many memories. My mother made a host of pastries every Christmas and Easter, most of them from her Hungarian/ Austrian background. Her mother and father came from the old country in the early 1900’s and we had to mix English and Hungarian to communicate. Grandpa always had a black Buick, his baby, and pronounced “pewick”.

    I remember two particular Christmases while in the military:; one at an ammo depot on a remote island and the other in Vietnam. My father was flying aircraft into areas close to both and showed up a week before Chritmas two years in a row bearing Mom’s cookies. i didn’t ask how he conned his way into these places and he didn’t offer explanations. These were the best cookies by far I ever ate.

    • AmericanCooking22 says

      Hi Will! Such beautiful memories of your mother and grandparents! They remind me of those of my husband. I can only imagine how those illicit cookies would taste! Far sweeter than anything I can fathom! I hope you try these kolaches and they at least come close to those of your mother. I’m curious what other pastries your mother made for those Christmas exchanges? I’ve made kolaches and walnut rolls because those are the two my husband remembers, but I’d love to try my hand at some others!

  5. Sandra Krytus says

    I did follow the directions exactly and my dough was very greasy. They literally melted on the cookie sheet as they baked and the filling was showing through on the bottom. Needless to say they are not tender crisp. I add LOTS of flour during rolling to try to “mop” up some of the grease as well as up the oven temp. That seemed to help some and they are edible but they turned out nothing like yours. Any idea what I did wrong?

    • AmericanCooking22 says

      Hi Sandra, I’m so sorry that happened to you. I’ve made these kolaches and the walnut rolls, which use the exact same dough, a half dozen times and haven’t had that problem. What temperature was your butter? Was it room temperature? That might make for greasy dough, but refrigerating the dough prior to rolling might help that. One time I didn’t properly beat together the cream cheese and butter and then I added all the flour at one time and the dough was dry and wouldn’t hold together. I also use a hand mixer to beat everything together.

      You could also check your oven temperature and make sure that it actually reads 375. Mine is a very nice Kitchen Aid and it still fluctuates a lot. The only other thing I could think of is that you didn’t refrigerate it long enough. It should be firm when you take it out to roll it.

      • Sandra Krytus says

        Thanks for your timely response. My butter was room temp when I mixed it with the cream cheese but the dough was refrigerated overnight before I rolled it. I added the flour in 5 increments as you suggested. The only thing I did differently perhaps is that I used a stand mixer rather than a hand mixer. I don’t know what the effect of over mixing would be, and I don’t think I did that, but maybe, as obviously I did something wrong. Maybe next time I’ll make them with my daughter and see if she can catch something I missed.

        • AmericanCooking22 says

          Hi Sandra! Perhaps just try to use butter that is a little less soft. Just a little cool to the touch but will still give when pressed with your finger. You could try to use the whisk attachment with your stand mixer to emulate the hand mixer’s beaters better? I hope it comes together better next time! I am so sorry they didn’t turn out :-(

  6. Jo Anne says

    My Slovak grandmothers both made these! So they are not just Hungarian, but are definitely from that part of Europe. And the cookie dough recipe is the same as the one that I got from a Polish baker.

    • Lindsey says

      That part of Europe’s history is so intertwined it doesn’t surprise me in the least that these cookies are found all over! I bet your grandmothers’ were phenomenal!

      • Jo Anne says

        Actually, what was once the Austro-Hungarian Empire that existed for centuries covered Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, part of Poland and Austria. The Austro-Hungarian Empire was broken up at the end of WWI and the current countries/boundaries were formed then. So the foods are very similar across the entire region.

      • Amy Ramsey says

        By any chance was your Husband’s Grandmother’s first name Helen? My grandmother had a sister named Helen who married a Szabo. Their maiden name was Barta

        • Lindsey says

          Hi Amy! No it wasn’t but Szabo certainly seems like an uncommon name. She immigrated to Cleveland, OH. Did your grandmother live there?

  7. Linda Billingsley says

    I will be making these today for thanksgiving! I am hungarian/Slavic descent so these cookies are. What I grew up with in cleveland ,Ohio. I love the apricot, cherry, cheese and nut filling the best!

    • Lindsey says

      These would be the perfect addition to a Thanksgiving feast! My husband is Hungarian and also is from Cleveland, OH which is where his grandmother immigrated to! I’ve only tried the apricot filling in these and then a nut filling in the walnut rolls (the nut filling is to die for!). I’m going to try cherry this year. Do you have a recipe for it? I was just going to do the same thing as the apricot but substitute dried cherries?

  8. Shelley says

    Thank you! Made these for my churchs’ cookie party we package for the older members of the congregation that aren’t able to get about. I always bake an old fashioned cookie that would especially appeal to them, gingersnaps my go to. These are my new favs.
    My first tray opened too, so followed your comment, & folded them over further and also dabbed egg wash on the opposing corners and they held perfectly. Next batch will add a prune filling and as another commenter suggested cheese, do you have a recipe for the cheese?

    • Lindsey says

      That’s a wonderful thing to do for the older members of your church, Shelley! I bet old-fashioned Christmas cookies light up their hearts. A bit of eggwash never hurt anyone! Good thinking! I checked my Hungarian cookbook and it does have a cheese filling recipe. I have never tried it but I trust this book. I will send you an email. Have a blessed Christmas.

  9. Charlotte Kennedy says

    My mom made these while my grammy made a roll. My mom would make little balls, roll in sugar, and then roll out to fill. Both my mom and grammy would do walnut, poppyseed, and cottage cheese fillings besides the apricot.

  10. Karen Brunelle says

    I have some peach jam that I,made this summer that is just peaches and sugar boiled down to jam. Could i reheat thsat, add a little water, and puree it to use for the filling? Although apricot does sound delish!

  11. JL says

    Your cookie names are all backwards. This recipe for kolachE is actually a Hungarian Kifli, and the recipe is actually wrong. It’s jr even one of the many variations. Need to rename these and quit calling them authentic.

    • Lindsey says

      As I am sure you are aware, there are many variations of every kind of dessert. There is never just one way to make something. Honestly I think your comments are rather rude and uncalled for. I asked the spelling from my Hungarian mother-in-law and my Hungarian husband was the one who taste tested batches of these cookies until they tasted just like his grandmother’s who immigrated to America from Hungary. If Grandma Szabo called kiffle “kolaches” who cares? What is important is that they taste amazing!

      • Catherine says

        This really brings back delicious memories of family holiday gatherings with yummy Hungarian foods. I’m sure that it’s the case that there are regional differences due to the original large territory of Hungary. My family always called them kifle and did use a completely different recipe but yours sound and look equally delicious. I found it interesting that when I went to Budapest the walnut and poppyseed rolls were quite different than the ones made by my relatives who immigrated here!

        • Lindsey says

          Hi Catherine! I am so glad they bring back memories for you as they did my husband! Thank you so much for your sweet comment! I hope that I can travel to Budapest some day! Happy holidays!

  12. Julie says

    Hi Lindsey,

    Your cookies look amazing and I’ve been wanting to try this recipe I just have a few questions.

    1. If I make my own filling from raspberries is it ok to use frozen raspberries? I’ve read somewhere that some fillings become too runny in the oven when heated. I’m hoping I can just boil it down with sugar like you did the dried apricots.

    2. Can I make the dough a day or two ahead and freeze it? Or will it ruin the flavor and texture? This is actually a general question I have for cookies that have cream cheese in the mixture. Nice tried to research it but have had no luck in getting a clear answer.

    3. How about if I assemble them completely with the filling and then freeze them? Or is this a big No No?

    4. If I make and bake them completely, let them cool and then freeze them…. Do you think popping them back into the oven from the freezer for a few minutes will crisp them up again or will it just dry it out.

    I don’t know if you’ve done any of these things but if you have I would really appreciate some feed back.

    Thanks!

    • Lindsey says

      Hi Julie! Goodness! I haven’t actually done any of those things but I can definitely weigh in with my opinions.

      1. Using fresh fruit is totally different than rehydrating dried fruit like the apricots. You can try cooking down the raspberries with sugar – basically you are making a jam. If you have pectin, that would help. Even if you boil the raspberry filling down until it is very thick, it may still weep in the oven. There is only one way to find out!
      2. You can make the dough ahead of time but I wouldn’t freeze it especially if you plan to use it in a day or two. Just make it, wrap it well and refrigerate it. I have frozen chocolate chip cookie dough with cream cheese in it and it was fine, but cream cheese was not a major ingredient like in these kolaches.
      3. You can definitely assemble them with the filling and freeze, but I would probably bake them then freeze them because of the cream cheese in the dough and your raspberry filling will probably weep if you freeze it and thaw it. You can freeze cream cheese but the texture changes and I wouldn’t want to risk the integrity of my cookies!
      4. Of all of your options, this one is my favorite; however, I wouldn’t put them in the oven directly from the freezer. Let them thaw and then pop them back in the oven for a few minutes. If you put a pre-cooked, frozen cookie in the oven the outside is going to cook too much before the inside has even thawed. So thaw then refresh. Your filling may still weep in this scenario but it is less likely because of the additional bake time.

      I hope all of that helps! Happy baking!

  13. says

    My grandmother was Hungarian and Russian of Jewish decent and man could she bake and cook. I can remember her making all different flavors of these kolochky pastrys and I want to say thank you for posting you recipe. Most her recipes passed with her and I was way to young then to say “hey write these things down for me”,for when I grow up! So, thank god for the Internet and people like you in it. Happy New Year.

    • Lindsey says

      Hi Sheri! That is exactly why I made this and other hungarian recipes in the first place – my husband remembered his grandmother’s cooking and no one had written down the recipes so I started testing out different ones until I arrived at one as good as he remembered! I am overjoyed that you stumbled upon my site and this recipe. Happy New Year, Sheri!

  14. Ed says

    My mom used to make these twice a year. I just tried and while the baked well the dough (baked kolacky) turned moist after sitting overnight. I used a flour/sugar to roll my dough out and brushed “some” with egg white before baking. Even those without egg white became moist after sitting. Any advice on how to keep this from happening? Thanks, Ed

  15. Helene RAINEY says

    Hi, I just find your side, love it
    would you please send me the recipe for kalacs with walnut and mag! possible to my e mail address
    thank

    • Lindsey says

      Hi Helene! I’m not sure I understand your question. The recipe for the walnut filling is here and I’m not sure what “mag” is? Happy baking!

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