Grandma Wanda’s Kolaczki

December 12, 2011 · 2 comments

Grandma Wanda’s Kolaczki

Guest Post by Andrea Lange

“This recipe is from my grandma, Wanda. She was Polish, but these are common cookies in many East European countries. The recipe she mailed me was really more of a list of reminders than an actual set of instructions, but thankfully I’d made them with her and mom before and was able to fashion a detailed recipe from her rough notes!” – Andrea

    • Cookie Dough:
    • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
    • 3 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
    • Pinch of kosher salt
    • 2 cups all-purpose flour
    • Filling of your choice (see tips)

 

  • Cheese Filling:
  • 1/2 pound farmers cheese or dry cottage cheese, drained
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons cream or half-and-half

  • Beat cream cheese and butter together with an electric mixer on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. (You can also do this by hand, but it’s a lot easier with an electric mixer). Add the salt, then add the flour gradually until combined. The dough will be very crumbly.
  • Dump the dough onto a large piece of plastic wrap. Use the plastic wrap to press the dough into a ball and wrap it tightly. Chill in the fridge overnight, or for at least 4 hours. At this point, you can also put the dough in the freezer. When it’s time to roll it out, let it sit on the counter for just a few minutes (longer if its been frozen). It’s more easily malleable when it’s not so cold.
  • When ready to bake the cookies, first get your fillings ready. Make cheese filling, if using (see tips for additional ideas). In a small bowl, mix the dry cheese and butter until smooth. Add sugar, egg yolk, and vanilla and mix to combine. Add the cream a tablespoon at a time and mix until filling is smooth.
  • Set aside. Open any other fillings you wish to use and set aside.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Using powdered sugar on the rolling surface, rolling pin and your hands, roll out dough on parchment paper or a silicone mat until it’s between 1/4 and 1/8 inch thick. Cut into 2 inch circles with a cookie cutter or small glass. Continue to re-roll the dough until you’ve used it all. Treat it like sugar cookie dough – if it gets soft and becomes hard to work with, chill it in the fridge or freezer again before continuing.
  • Place the rounds on an ungreased cookie sheet about a 1 inch apart. Make a divot with your thumb in the center of each cookie and fill with 1/2 teaspoon of the filling of your choice.
  • Bake the cookies for 15-17 minutes, until they are puffed up and just turning brown at the edges. Cool for a few minutes on cookie sheet, then transfer to a plate or wire rack. When fully cooled, dust with powdered sugar.
  • Store the cookies in an airtight container in a single layer. They’ll last that way at least 3 days, maybe longer. I’ve never had any stick around long enough to know for sure!
  • Andrea’s Quick Tips
  • 1. Farmer’s cheese is fantastic! If you haven’t tried it before, I highly recommend making the cheese filling. It’s used in a lot of Polish recipes. It’s like a dry and crumbly cottage cheese. This filling reminds me of a cheese Danish, but less sweet. I found farmer’s cheese in the refrigerated cheese section at Whole Foods.
  • 2. In addition to the cheese filling, Wanda would make these using the Solo brand Cake and Pastry Fillings, which can be found in some supermarkets in the baking aisle. (Locally, I found them at Giant). Apricot, Cherry, and Poppy Seed are all traditional in eastern European cooking and family favorites.
  • 3. The recipe doesn’t call for too much filling; one filling (homemade or store bought) would be enough for the whole recipe. So if you use more than one flavor, which I always do, you can store the leftovers in airtight containers in the freezer.
  • 4. If you can’t find the Cake and Pastry Fillings, you can also use jam. It is more likely to run off the cookies as they bake, so use a little less than ½ teaspoon. Do not use jelly, which is too thin and watery, or preserves, which are too chunky.
  • Alicia’s Testing Tips
  • 1. I rolled out my dough over parchment. To get the piece of parchment to stay in one place as you are trying to roll out the dough, place a damp paper towel underneath the parchment. This same trick works for a cutting board.
  • 2. What to do with those few extra pieces of dough at the end? I balled them up and rolled them in powdered sugar. A perfect, not too sweet one bite treat!
  • 3. I also found that the cheese filling recipes makes a lot more than you need. You can use the leftover cheese filling in crepes or pancakes. I also though it might be kind of nice just baked into triangles of puff pastry.
  • About the Guest Author
  • Andrea has been an avid baker since she was a teenager. She’s had many mishaps in the kitchen, including shrunken pie crusts, charred brownies and flaming pot holders, but tries to follow Julia Child’s advice to “never apologize at the table.” This is Andrea’s third contribution as a Weekly Greens guest author. You can see her other terrific recipes here and here.  Andrea and her boyfriend live in Washington, DC.

Preparation time: 1 hours 30 minutes, plus chilling time

Cooking time: 45 minutes

Number of servings (yield): about 3 dozen cookies





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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Mel November 3, 2014 at 6:40 pm

I make these every year and I’ve had requests for the cheese filling. I like to make them ahead and freeze as many as I can. Will the cheese ones freeze well?

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Alicia November 3, 2014 at 6:47 pm

Hi Mel! Glad these are such a hit. I have never frozen them but I can’t imagine why they wouldn’t freeze well. One thing you might try is freezing them just after you’ve put them on the baking sheet and made a thumb print. Then when you’re ready to bake, just add the filling and proceed from there. I have tried a similar method with other cookies and this works very nicely. You still get that “fresh baked” kind of feeling even though they came out of the freezer.

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