Authentic Hungarian Walnut Rolls

Traditional Hungarian Walnut Roll

These traditional Hungarian Walnut Rolls are technically a Christmas cookie but I like to think of them as a Make-Any-Day-Better cookie. These Hungarian specialties are another one of my Husband’s favorite cookies from childhood. They utilize the same cream cheese dough as the Hungarian Apricot Kolaches but they taste remarkably different.

Traditional Hungarian Walnut Roll

When I first tasted them this Christmas, I knew these Walnut Rolls (or, as they are also called, Nut Horns) should not be restricted to Christmas to compete with the Gingerbread Boys, Snowballs, or Molasses Spice Cookies. No, no. They are waaay too special for that.

Traditional Hungarian Walnut Roll

This week when I found out that a friend, and lover of Hungarian treats, needed a good old-fashioned sugar pick me up, I jumped at the opportunity to bake him something close to his heart. These Hungarian Walnut Rolls have a delicately flakey yet rich crust, and an incredibly sweet, irresistible walnut filling! The outside of the roll in generously coated in sugar, which creates a sumptuous caramelized crust on the bottom and a crunchy, sugary sweet coating on top.

Traditional Hungarian Walnut Roll

These cookies are so delicious; my Husband braved the Atlanta snowstorm (on foot) to buy the creamcheese for the crust!

Traditional Hungarian Walnut Roll

They are like little bites of Heaven!

It took several tries around Christmastime to recreate these Walnut Rolls the way that my Husband remembers his Grandmother’s tasting, but I am happy to report that I have finally nailed it. Do not be deterred by the length of the instructions. They are really quite simple but I wanted to make sure you could recreate these magical cookies the first time!

Traditional Hungarian Walnut Roll

Aren’t they adorable?!

Like her Apricot Kolaches, my Husband’s Grandmother rolled her walnut rolls out in sugar and then sprinkled extra on top, because Grandma Szabo knew that more sugar is always better!

Traditional Hungarian Walnut Roll

Grandmother Szabo’s Walnut Rolls were apparently MUCH larger than these. She used a generous tablespoon of filling into the thinnest pastry imaginable. They taste equally amazing large or small.

I also threw a few of these Mini Chocolate Chip Cookies into the package because chocolate never hurts and they are irresistible!

I hear that they were gone in under 12 hours. I know mine were…

Authentic Hungarian Walnut Rolls

Yield: 64 Cookies

Authentic Hungarian Walnut Rolls

These traditional Hungarian cookies have a sweet, nutty filling inside a flakey, rich pastry! While they are traditionally made at Christmastime, they are outstanding any time of year!

Ingredients

    For the Pastry:
  • 2 ¼ cups all purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ cup granulated sugar for rolling
  • For the Walnut Filling:
  • ½ pound freshly ground walnuts (finely)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup of boiled milk
  • 1/8 cup melted butter

Instructions

    To make the Walnut Filling:
  1. Mix filling in a medium bowl using only ¼ cup of the boiled milk. The mixture should be thick.
  2. If the filling is not spreadable, use the rest of the milk. I used all of it. It will thicken as it sits.
  3. 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.
  4. For the Pastry Dough:
  5. Sift flour and salt together in a medium bowl and set aside.
  6. Beat the cream cheese and butter together with a stand mixer or a hand mixer until completely incorporated and creamy (3-5 minutes).
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Assembling the Walnut Rolls:
  10. Pre-heat the oven to 375°. Move the oven rack one setting higher than the center.
  11. 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” thick or as thin as possible. Most recipes say 1/8” but my Husband remembered them being thinner. Thinner is better. If you roll them too thick, the bottom will burn before the inside has a chance to fully cook and puff up. They still taste good but they taste so much better when properly rolled. Promise. Just trust me here.
  12. 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 a possible, saving the scraps for later.
  13. Place a dollop of filling in one corner of each square. I used ½ teaspoon.
  14. Starting in the corner with the filling, roll the dough around the filling from corner to corner, gently pressing down as you roll. Grab the roll on both sides and pinch as you bend the roll to create a crescent shape. Gently move it to a parchment covered baking sheet, placing the Rolls no closer than 1” apart.
  15. Repeat with all remaining squares.
  16. Sprinkle the middles of the Rolls 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. They should puff up slightly in the middle. With experience you can see when the dough is cooked. 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.
  19. For a more traditional cookie, you can omit the granulated sugar and dust the final, cooled cookie with powdered sugar. I will warn you that it won’t be as divine.

Notes:

Note: Recipe from June Meyer’s Authentic Hungarian Heirloom Recipes Cookbook. The Walnut Filling recipe can also be found on her website. You can look forward to more Hungarian heirloom delicacies. I’m borderline obsessed!

The most difficult part about these cookies is storing them so that they don’t get soft. They will still taste yummy but the crispy flakey crust with the caramelized bottom is really sensational. I found that layering them between sheets of wax paper and then wrapping the stack loosely in foil will keep them as crisp as possible.

You don’t want to cut a corner and not re-roll your scraps. They make the best cookies because they have been rolled out twice in sugar!

http://americanheritagecooking.com/2014/02/authentic-hungarian-walnut-rolls/

Traditional Hungarian Walnut Roll


Comments

      • Nancy Trainer says

        I love to read over the recipes also do some of them,but why do we have to scroll down six or more pictures of the same products, one picture and directions. should be fine.. Just wondering.. Thank you.

        • Lindsey says

          Hi Nancy, because that’s how this blog is. It’s my little piece of the internet and I like it that way :-) Happy baking! I hope you do try the recipes.

        • AmericanCooking22 says

          Hi leanne, Lots of old recipes call for boiled milk but now it isn’t important because our milk is pasteurized; however, in this recipe you do still want it to be hot. If memory serves, I heated mine up in the microwave. You don’t need to boil it down or boil it for any length of time – it’s just a gauge of temperature. If it isn’t hot enough the ingredients won’t incorporate. Hope that helps!

          • Kim says

            What is the name of your china pattern? It’s the pattern I picked out in 1985 but ended up registering for another. I can’t remember the name!

          • AmericanCooking22 says

            I’m not sure, Kim! I got a few pieces at an estate sale 8 years ago! It is Vignaud Limoges, but as for the particular pattern, I’ve never been able to find it!

          • Liz says

            My mom did hers totally different. She just had the walnuts, sugar, and egg whites. That’s all she did, nothing about boiled milk.

          • AmericanCooking22 says

            Hi, Liz! I am sure there are many variations out there. I’ll have to give your mom’s a try! Sounds delicious!

    • AmericanCooking22 says

      I have never tried to freeze them whole. I have frozen the filling and used it months later to make more, which worked very well! I do think they would freeze well. My great-grandmothers pecan tassies, that have a similar crust, freeze perfectly stacked with wax paper or parchment in between in a ziplock freezer bag or sealed container.

  1. sandra maria says

    Oh my gosh! I remember these as a little girl, helping my mom bake them.she’s gone now but these are wonderful memories.god bless.

    • AmericanCooking22 says

      Your comment made me smile! Have a blessed holiday! My husband and his brother also have very fond memories around these walnut rolls, so these and the apricot kolaches have a special place in our household! I hope you give them a try!

  2. jim says

    My mother fixed these for me every christmas…when she died a year ago so did the receipt…now i can pass it on thanks to you..

  3. says

    This recipe is absolutely exceptional!! Rolling out dough in sugar is totally worth the extra mess and difficulty. That crisp, caramelized bottom really is everything you said and more. I am going to make these every year without fail, and my ancestors will undoubtedly speak of these cookies in hushed, reverent tones. They’re that good. Thank you so much for sharing!
    Nikki @ Tikkido recently posted…Eggnog Cookie Recipe for ChristmasMy Profile

    • AmericanCooking22 says

      Your comment totally made my day, Nikki! And it seriously cracked me up! I hope my ancestors will speak about these cookies in hushed, reverent tones! Thanks for trying them and stopping back to let me know!

  4. Janie says

    they are freezable if you follow her instructions for freezing the pecan tarts which I freeze the same way. I do the wax paper/ziplock and a freezer – safe container. I get sent both treats every holiday season by relatives. I try to make them last through the year :)

  5. Sande says

    I have fond memories of helping my grandmother makes these every Christmas. She would makes hundreds of them to share with family and friends. My mother made them a few times but felt it was way too time consuming for her. Sadly both of them passed without me getting a copy of the recipe. My grandmothers was in head and she never measured anything, so it was a couple handfuls of this and a couple dashes of that. I attempted many times over the years to duplicate the recipe or find it somewhere but never had much luck.

    Your recipe is very similar to what I remember with the only difference being the walnuts and boiled milk. She used black walnuts and canned evaporated milk. Can’t wait to try your recipe.

    • AmericanCooking22 says

      Hi Sande! The best recipes are the ones that you know by heart! But that is definitely the risk of not writing it down. I couldn’t find black walnuts – I think you can only get them in season around here. But I can see evaporated milk working well. I hope you try them! If you do let me know how they compare!

  6. Ilona lenart says

    My mother, Irene made this walnut roll every Christmas. And she made about 100. She made them for us at home and her friends at Shoprite in Clark nj. Even I took some to work to treat my friends. Everyone who tried it wanted the recepi right away. And I always think of my mother, Irene when I make them. She passed in 2007. She was all Hungarian. We continue to cook and bake like she did. Everything Hungarian. Anyways, she made the best walnut rolls ever. And it was called Dios Kifli. Everyone should try to make it. They will love it!!!

    • Lindsey says

      100!!! These are the kind of cookies that you want to bake in large batches – just begging to be shared! I love Hungarian cooking – I’m not Hungarian but it is such comfort food. I would love to try any of your mother’s recipes if you are willing to share! Feel free to email me at americanheritagecooking@gmail.com

  7. JL says

    Grandma and her sisters were straight from Hungary, and this recipe is nothing like theirs. How can you possibly call this Hungarian?

    • Lindsey says

      There is never just one recipe for any particular dessert, so, obviously, it is normal that your grandmother’s recipe is different than this one. It doesn’t make mine or yours wrong – just different.

  8. says

    My Mother, myself and now my two daughters make Hungarian Cookies every year at Christmas. The only thing different is that we use:

    2 lbs. flour
    2 lbs. cottage cheese
    2 lbs. butter

    We also fill them with anyone of the following: Walnut mixture – Poppy Seed mixture or jams. We also sprinkle with powdered sugar immediately after taking out of the oven! Yummy. Really enjoyed your recipe and how well others enjoyed these traditional cookies as much as my family does! Merry Christmas!

  9. Jeanene says

    Making these for a friend whose Hungarian heritage is calling. Wanted the ones with the nut filling as they were the”best” according to his childhood memories. This recipe is very close to all the recipes I’ve read on line. I’m so excited to get started tomorrow and surprise him with a wonderful Christmas memory. Thanks for the post.

    • Lindsey says

      That is such a lovely gift idea, Jeanene! I am sure he will love them. The nut filling on these rolls is incredibly delicious! It makes a lot, so I froze some and made more later!

    • Lindsey says

      They were very finely chopped, which you can either do in a food processor or by hand, but this option will take awhile.

    • Lindsey says

      Hi Lucy! They absolutely can be frozen! I also froze the extra filling to make more several months later when a craving struck

  10. Anne says

    Thanks for tweaking and tweaking, and giving us such accuracy. I, too, recall these, and have familial glee associated with them, which you have enough of, now. I’m making your version RIGHT NOW and need to ask about the filling. Mine is gritty from the sugar, which I don’t recall.

    While I have both of the “parts” made, next is assembly, and I’m going to have faith the sugar will dissolve during baking.

    And I’ll report back in an hour or so.

    But thanks again for taking care to pare down quantities for us. I feel good about your kitchen chemistry.

    Wish me luck.

    Anne

    • Lindsey says

      Hi Anne! I do recall the filling being gritty from the sugar before it baked. Mine melted when it baked and didn’t taste gritty afterwards! How did it go? Happy baking!

  11. Jerrie says

    Oh wow my mother passed in 1974 and ive been searching for this recipe and hints to make this year for christmas! Its been that long since ive tasted them!! Im sure ill be crying in my kitchen cause youve taken me home!! Iwas 25 then im now 67!!! Im so grateful they look just like my sweet Hungarian moms soecial christmas cookies!!! Im so geecked!!

    • Lindsey says

      Hi Jerrie! What a touching comment. I’m so glad that my recipe could bring you a little bit of joy this holiday season. Please don’t forget to report back and let me know how it goes! You can also freeze extra filling for later in the year :-) Happy baking!

  12. Jody Gayhart says

    Maybe someone knows… my grandmother made something very imilar to the walnut kolaches. However the ough also has e shaped them into a horn shape with the filling spilling out one end. My mother now in her 80’s so wants to taste that long remember Christmas treat.

  13. Sissy says

    Does the 1/2 pound of walnuts equal to 2 cups once ground fine? Thank you so much..These look delicious and I am in the middle of making these..LOL

    • Lindsey says

      Hi Sissy! I’m not sure how many cups 1/2 lbs walnuts finely ground is but if you weigh 1/2 lb walnuts and then grind them, it shouldn’t matter! Happy baking!

      • Sissy says

        Thank you…It came out just fine with the 2 cups of ground walnuts..LOL..Also, I made your Apricot filling from the dried Apricots, so, so good..Will never use a store bought brand again..Homemade is the way to go..Thanks for sharing all these wonderful recipes… Have a Happy Holiday Season to you and your Family & Friends..Thanks again..

  14. Klara Cramer says

    Thank you for this recipe. I’m originally Czech now married into a wonderful Canadian Jewish family. I find it fascinating how the cuisines of central Europe mash together and each country claiming it’s really theirs recipe :)
    I found several recipes on your website to incorporate in my this year’s very special Christmas baking and at the end they all are “just” traditional Jewish recipes, because it was very frequently the Jewish community that owned small businesses, especially bakeries.
    As I was reading your recipe I realized those were the beauties my mom used to bake for very special occasions, and the thing that rang the bell was the cream cheese in the dough. Thank you so much for posting this amazing recipe.
    I recall eating those with poppy seed filling, or even better baker’s cheese (more dense form of cream cheese), always dusted with confections sugar, always :))))
    I can’t wait to get baking

  15. Will Smith says

    Great recipe; I’ve used it since discovery.

    My Grandmother and Grandfather were first gen Americans and my Mom, born in Hungari, baked like a true Austrian. Her cakes , cookies and spaetzile were incredible; her goulash to die for. Because of her I was popular in highschool for potential goodie trades at lunch. …rarely happened even though I knew I had more at home.

    We were a military family in more than name. While in Asia during the Vietnam War my father, a fight engineer to Vietnam arrived shortly brfore Christmas at my remote base with koulaches and prune pinwheels from Mom. The cookies and weird visit ( as in, how the heck he got there) was the best Christmas I ever experienced.

    Mom and Dad are gone, but I continue to cook Mom’s cookies every year for the rest of the family and they do not last.

    As an aside, a good walnut roll is close to nirvana.

    • Lindsey says

      Hi Will! What a fantastic story! I love reading the comments on this recipe and the Apricot Kolaches more than any other posts on my blog. They inspire such vivid and wonderful memories of cooking with grandparents and parents. They make me smile every time. Thank you so much for sharing with me and also carrying on the traditions. Happy baking and Merry Christmas!

    • Lindsey says

      Hi Janet! Hmmm I don’t see why not. That sounds delicious! I am not sure how long to bake them…I follow the 7 minute rule. Set the timer for 7 minutes and go from there. They will be puffed and matte when they are done. Just knowing the dough, you’ll be able to pick them up and check the bottom which should be golden brown when they are done. Hope that helps! Happy baking! Don’t forget to stop back and let me know how it goes!

  16. Nancy Tomazin says

    I tried these today and the filling ran all out . I only used 1/4 cup milk and the filling was quite thick. Any ideas?
    Nancy

    • Lindsey says

      Hi Nancy, Some of my filling definitely ran out as you can see in the photos. I did let mine sit overnight in the fridge so it might have just thickened more than yours. The second time I made them I used the filling from the freezer and those didn’t spill out at all. Happy baking!

  17. Deborah Horvath Rowden says

    My grandparents came from Hungary. My grandmother didn’t speak English but for a few words as we lived in a Hungarian community. The variation in Hungarian cuisine and baking is diverse due to region. everyone has their way of doing it. ;)
    My grandmother always made Kifli. A crescent shaped buttery rich pastry filled with walnut filling.
    Her dough was made with a pound of butter, a dozen egg yolks, half pint of heavy cream and a pinch of salt.
    The filling was the dozen egg whites beaten until firm peaks form and then she folded in a pound of sifted powdered sugar and about a pound, pound and half finely ground walnuts. She would roll the dough into balls the size of large walnuts and refrigerate overnight. Then the rolling and filling and baking began! :) When she took them out of the oven they were well dusted with powdered sugar. A family tradition I have continued and now with my 13 year old granddaughter who loves to bake! <3

    • Lindsey says

      Hi Deborah! What a wonderful comment filled with memories and also a recipe that I MUST try!!! It is so heartwarming to hear that you are passing along that tradition with your granddaughter! I plan to do the same when I have the opportunity. Love from my family to yours. Have a wonderful holiday!

  18. Cindy says

    I just finished making these. They taste wonderful….but most of them “popped open”. The 1 1/2″ square is really small. And I used 1/2 teas of filling. I even made them bigger and most of them still came open. And I pinched the heck out of them to stay shut. :) But they sure taste good. Also I had a lot of dough left to roll out more. Does that sound right? Any help would be appreciated. TY for the recipe….I need practice.

    • Lindsey says

      Hi Cindy! That seems to be a common problem. Some of mine definitely popped open too. I bet if we “cheated” and used a bit of eggwash to seal them shut they wouldn’t pop open. Happy baking!

  19. Mary Ann Barnett says

    I’ve got to get this recipe down and passed on in memory of my grandma. I didn’t catch the temperature setting for the oven? 350-375?

    • Lindsey says

      So many names for similar recipes! The sous chef at my last restaurant made rugelach but his had chocolate! sooooo delicious! Happy holidays, Rae.

  20. Sally says

    Made these tonight and they are delicious! However I had a lot of trouble with them unrolling and opening up during baking. Any helpful hints would be appreciated. Thanks!

  21. Margaret says

    These look a lot like the cookies my Nana called “kifli” and always made at Christmas! I’ve been looking all over for a recipe, but kept finding something that looked a lot more like a rich sweet bread in a crescent shape with a ground walnut filling. Your recipe gives a result that most resembles what I remember. I’m determined to try them as soon as possible!

    Nana grew up in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and for family history purposes, I really wish I could figure out who taught Nana to make kifli, beigli and palacsinta–her much-older stepsister (from Alsoor in Burgenland) or the lady Nana was sent to live with when her mother died, who came from Oroszlany. When she married my Greek grandfather, she also learned to make baklava, spanakopita, and cookies like finikia from my great-aunt and other Greek ladies in the family.

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