Christmas cookies are a must in my house! I love to make a variety of different cookies to serve up for company or to bring with me on our visits with friends and family. These Kolaczki cookies have cream cheese as a main ingredient in the “crust.”
This cream cheesy goodness creates the flakey, buttery texture that will keep people coming back for more. Paired with delicious jam, they are perfectly sweet and pastry-like! Topped with powdered sugar, they will beautify your desert platter this holiday season and earn you extra style points with guests.
What are Kolaczki Cookies?
They are called cookies but are considered a pastry or dessert by purists. It is hard to pin down the exact country of orient when researching where Kolaczki cookies originated but it is agreed that this sweet filled pastry hails from Eastern Europe. It is spelled a variety of ways including “kolaczki,” “kolche,” “kolacky,” and “koláče,” and is pronounced [koh-lah-chee].
I made my first batch of kolaczki cookies in my mom’s kitchen when I was a teen. Though they take a bit of time to make, these “cookies” are very easy to accomplish no matter your level of baking expertise. My husbands Polish Grandma or “Babka” as my kids so lovingly call their great grandmother, makes a similar version of these cookies but instead of rolling and folding, she does more of a “thumbprint” style. You choose what works best for you! The tender cream cheese dough makes these traditional Christmas cookies a great addition to any gathering.
Tips + Tricks
How to make sure the kolaczki do not break apart and open on the fold
After rolling, filling, and folding opposite corners, allow the cookies to rest on the baking sheet for 30 minutes. This seems like a tedious step but it will help the gluten relax which will prevent shrinkage and ultimately keep your little pastry cookie looking the way it should.
How to thicken jam for the filling of your kolaczki
If you are using a runnier jam or filling, it would be wise to take the steps to thicken it up before adding it onto the dough. Runny filling will look messy, run off and make a mess, and cause the jam to cookie ratio to get completely out of whack.
There are two quick and simple options for thickening your filling:
- Bring it to a boil over medium heat, stirring often for about 5 minutes.
- Add cornstarch. Dissolve one tablespoon of cornstarch with 1 teaspoon of cold water and add it to 3/4 of a cup of jam. Warm the jam in the microwave to help with thickening for 30 seconds at a time– too long and it will overcook and harden.
Cream Cheese- Choose a high quality, full fat cream cheese. If you opt for a lower fat content, your cookies may not turn out as flaky and buttery as they should. I use Philadelphia Cream Cheese.
Filling- These Kolaczki cookies are super versatile. Use your favourite fruit filling, jam, or poppyseed spread. I have seen Kolaczki that are savoury and opt for special cheese inside… the world is your oyster!
Traditionally, kolaczki cookies are filled with thick jam, poppy seed filling, pastry filling, or canned fruit filling such as apricot or prune.
I opted to use two different types of jam: raspberry and apricot. I thickened them using the cornstarch method outlined in my tips and tricks section above. Experiment with different flavors (you can use pie filling or jam). Try adding warm spices like cinnamon and ginger closer to the Christmas season!
Poppyseed filling is found in a lot of polish desserts and these polish kolaczki cookies are no exception! The poppy seed filling can be quite tedious to make. If you are up for a challenge, head over to Natasha’s Kitchen– she has a great tutorial.
Kolachy cookies can handle almost any kind of filling. No matter what you choose, make sure that it is thick!
No fancy equipment needed here! As always you can improvise and use whatever you have on hand including a hand mixer or good old fashioned elbow grease. These tools helped to make the job easier for me.
Kitchenaid Artisan Stand Mixer– I have been using my dough hook attachment more and more these days with my mixer. It takes a lot of manual labour and mess out of baking. I often have my six month old dangling from my left hip so I’ll take whatever “easy button” type hacks I can get!
Rolling pin-I use an old rolling pin handed down to me from my memere– if you dont have a rolling pin, a tall uniform glass will do the trick.
Baking Sheet– My new favourite baking sheets are the USA Pan brand. NOTHING sticks to them negating the need for parchment paper and they come in really big sizes. Bigger sheet→more cookies at once→less overall time→more time to enjoy!
How to Make Kolaczki Cookies
Step 1: Cream your butter or margarine with the cream cheese in a large bowl for about 3 minutes on medium speed. It should be light and fluffy. After this, add in the vanilla extract and mix for another 30 seconds or until it is completely blended in.
Step 2: Combine flour and salt in a medium bowl. Add it to the butter mixture in four intervals, mixing well after each addition. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for a minimum of one hour.
Step 3: Heat your oven to 350°F. Roll the dough onto a floured surface into about a 1/4-inch thick rectangle around 14×16 or so.
Step 4: Use a sharp knife or pizza cutter to “square” the dough up and create smooth edges all the way around.
Step 5: Cut into 2-inch squares and scoop 1/2 teaspoon or less filling into the center of each cookie. I suggest spooning the filling and folding a kolaczki first to gauge how much filling your dough can handle and then spoon the rest.
Step 6: Fold over the first corner of the square, dab with a bit of beaten egg white (helps the pieces stick together) and fold over the second corner. It is important to pinch the folded edge down onto the cookie to secure it. If you have time, let it sit for 30 minutes before baking.
Step 7: Bake the kolacky cookies for 15 minutes in your preheated oven or until delicately browned on the outer edges.
Step 8: Spread out on a cooling rack and allow the cookies to cool completely. Sprinkle some icing sugar over the cookies once completely cooled. If you put the icing sugar on when the cookies are too warm, it will melt and disappear into them.
Step 9: Smacznego! (enjoy your meal!)
Batch and Storage
This recipe will yield about 3 1/2 dozen cookies depending on dough thickness.
You can store these cookies in an airtight container on the counter for 3 or 4 days. It is best to eat them sooner rather than later because they tend to lose their firmness and become a bit soggy. Reserve the icing sugar and dust them on the day you will be eating them.
Do Kolaczki freeze well? YES! While the mess is out, double your recipe. Assemble the cookies as you normally would but skip the baking and freeze them in single layers, raw on your cookie sheet. Once frozen, place unbaked cookies in an airtight container or freezer bag with wax or parchment in between layers and pop them in the freezer for up to three months. Bake straight from frozen, adjusting the cooking time as needed.
Kolaczki Cookies Recipe Card
- Rolling Pin
- Artisan Kitchenaid Mixer
- Baking Sheet
- 1 cup butter softened
- 1 8oz package cream cheese room temperature
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 1/4 cup all purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 cup fruit filling or jam of choice see above sections for filling options and tips
- 1/2 cup icing sugar sifted to avoid lumps
- Cream your butter or margarine with the cream cheese for about 3 minutes on medium speed. It should be light and fluffy. After this, add in the vanilla extract and mix for another 30 seconds or until it is completely blended in.
- Combine flour and salt in a medium bowl. Add it to the butter mixture in four intervals, mixing well after each addition. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for a minimum of one hour.
- Heat your oven to 350°F. Roll the dough onto a floured surface into about a 1/4-inch thick rectangle 14×16 inches or so.
- Use a sharp knife or pizza cutter to “square” the dough up and create smooth edges all the way around.
- Cut into 2 inch squares and scoop 1/2 teaspoon or less filling into each one. I suggest spooning the filling and folding a kolaczki first to gauge how much filling your dough can handle and then spoon the rest.
- Fold over the first corner of the square, dab with a bit of beaten egg white (helps the pieces stick together) and fold over the second corner. It is important to pinch the folded edge down onto the cookie to secure it. If you have time, let it sit for 30 minutes before baking.
- Bake for 15 minutes or until delicately browned on the outer edges.
- Sprinkle some icing sugar over the cookies once completely cooled. If you put the icing sugar on when the cookies are too warm, it will melt and disappear into them.
- Smacznego! (enjoy your meal!)
Other Sweet Treats to Try From Modern Harvest
Chocolate Espresso Cookies
Pumpkin Chocolate Chunk Muffins