Apricot Kolachi (Kolache)

THIS IS NOT technically my grandma’s recipe, but I still consider it a traditional one in my family. This one is was introduced to me by my cousin, Linda, with whom I was fortunate to have shared Grandma Losch.  It’s a cream cheese and butter pastry with apricot filling, and lots and lots of powdered sugar. Just a few ingredients, but so big on taste.

Linda is no stranger to the kitchen; I always admired her culinary skills. But of all the things I remember coming out of Linda’s kitchen, these made a strong impression. She made these unspeakably delicious treats each year around Christmastime and always delivered a plateful to our house.  I would selfishly inhale most of them, then ask for more.  I vowed as a teen to learn how to make these, and all but demanded Linda share the recipe.  I’m glad I did, because there have been more than two hours of asphalt between Linda and me for the past 20 years, which means she would have had to undertake Herculean efforts to deliver my annual plate of Kolachi.

Interestingly, I Googled “kolachi” and what turned up didn’t come close to resembling the version I make.  Searching for “Apricot Kolaches” turns up a yeast bread with an apricot filling -not even close. I persisted with variations of the search term, and finally found a similar recipe here, called Apricot Kolacky (spelling variation) that’s close, but not quite… what I remember.

So, here’s what I grew up calling KOLACHI.

INGREDIENTS

1 stick (1/4 lb) butter, softened
1 cup flour
1 8-oz brick of cream cheese, softened
2 cups (approx.) confectioners’ (powdered) sugar
1 can of Solo brand Apricot filling

EQUIPMENT

Pastry cloth
Cookie sheets (optional: parchment paper)
A shaker for the powdered sugar

In a medium bowl, with hand mixer, cream together butter and cream cheese. Add flour and mix until combined. Form into small balls about the size of a small walnut and refrigerate these for at least a few hours or overnight.  (Recipe makes 24-30.)  Remove them from the ‘fridge and let them sit at room temperature for almost one hour before working.

Dump confectioners’ sugar on the center of a pastry cloth. Roll each ball in the sugar…

…then flatten into a circle, using your hands (keep ’em covered in sugar) or even better, the flat bottom of a glass that’s about the diameter of an average wine glass. But don’t use a wine glass; they’re not flat enough. I use this one:

Place discs on either an ungreased cookie sheet, or one lined with parchment (optional).

Onto the center of each disc, place about 1/2 teaspoon of apricot filling.

Learn from my mistakes: you absolutely must use the Solo brand filling. Don’t try apricot jam or jelly; it melts. Experiment with Solo’s different flavors if you must, but do – DO! – use their brand. Not every store carries it; but look for it. Trust me – it matters.

Bring the sides of the disc up to the center and pinch them. (Again, keeping your fingers covered in powdered sugar.) They’ll separate when baked.

Place in preheated, 275 (yes, that’s two-hundred seventy-five) degree oven and bake for about 25 minutes, until the pastry begins to turn golden brown. Remove from oven and shake some powdered sugar on them while they’re hot.  After ten minutes, transfer them to a cooling rack, then when they’re all the way cool, shake even MORE powdered sugar onto these. To store, cover loosely, lest they get soggy.

They’re a little bit tedious to make, but oh so worth the effort.