It’s the holiday season! This means…it’s cookie season! From family traditions to new, elevated recipes everyone has their favorites. And while Christmas Cut-Outs and Thumbprints are the first thing that come to mind, each year dozens more are introduced to my list as fresh ideas that cater to my ever evolving and appreciative palate.
I was ready for Christmas cookie mania back in November when catching wind of the The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap being hosted by the food-loving folks at Love & Olive Oil and The Little Kitchen. With such a fun concept at hand – send three food bloggers each a dozen homemade cookies and receive three dozen in return – I couldn’t help but sign up for the virtual event. Now all left to do was decide on the perfect recipe.
After searching through countless mesmerizing and mouth-watering cookie slideshows, cookie magazines and cookbooks, I decided the best recipe was one near and dear to my heart. Perhaps most appealing was that it was one that I had yet to make. Apricot Kolachy (or Apricot Preserve filled Bowtie Cookies) have stuck in my mind since childhood when the local Dairy Store (i.e. convenient little deli/market) regularly sold them.
Every now and then my mom would pick up a couple dozen cookies. My choice at the time was a caramel and cream filled tartlet topped with a pecan (that I always picked off), so the glistening apricot-filled sugar cookies never much caught my eye; these we took on visits to my Grandparents house. With their discerning taste of sweets, I should have known sooner that the cookies were delicious.
As my appreciation for fruit-filled desserts increased so did my enjoyment of this cookie. The light sweetness of the dough is well complimented by a dollop of apricot preserves. Sprinkled with sugar before baking, they come out of the oven just slightly golden with an irresistible sheen. Each cookie is small enough to be enjoyed as a simple nightcap and a few go down just as well with a tall glass of milk.
Kolachy is the Eastern European name for this cookie that takes various forms. Proud of my Czech roots, I’m eager to sift through the pages of my Grandma’s authentic cookbooks during my next visit home to find a longstanding recipe. Until then, I was able to send some of these home and received a thumbs-up review from the “Siskel & Eibert of home baking” – Gram and Gramps.
APRICOT KOLACHY (Apricot filled Bowtie Cookies)
Adapted from Fine Cooking
8 oz cream cheese, softened
8 oz (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
2-1/2 c unbleached all-purpose flour; more for rolling
One 12-oz. jar good-quality apricot preserves (about 3/4 cup)
One large egg white, beaten
Granulated sugar, for dusting
1. Beat the cream cheese and butter in a bowl on medium-high speed of a stand or hand mixer until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the bowl and paddle. With the mixer on low, gradually mix in the flour until a smooth dough forms.
2. Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead the dough gently to form a ball. Divide the dough in thirds, wrap each in plastic or waxed paper, and flatten into squares. Refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.
3. Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 400°F. Line cookie sheets with parchment. Remove one piece of dough from the refrigerator and roll it out on a lightly floured surface into a 1/8-inch-thick rectangle. Using a sharp knife or a pizza cutter, cut the dough into 2-inch squares.
4. Spoon about 1/2 tsp. of the preserves onto the center of each square. Fold one corner into the center, dab with the beaten egg white, and then bring the opposite corner into the center and pinch firmly together to seal the corners. *Note: this is an important step! If the dough isn’t pinched well enough, the cookies will unfold during baking. With a thin spatula, transfer the cookie to the cookie sheet. Repeat the process with the remaining dough. Brush each cookie with the egg white and generously sprinkle with granulated sugar.
5. Bake one sheet at a time until golden and very lightly browned and puffed, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool completely. You can freeze these cookies in freezer bags for up to 3 months.