12 Days of Cookies: #3 Apricot Bow Ties

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Growing up, my aunt was the primary cookie-maker in our family. Every Christmas Eve we would all look forward to the giant plate of cookies she would bring (actually, it was usually a sweater box from Marshal Fields that she had lined with waxed paper and filled with cookies). Her cookies were famous. There were an assortment but what I really looked forward to were what we always called kolaches, or more phonetically: kolachkies. They were an unsweetened pastry dough with assorted fruit fillings, somewhere between a cookie and a pastry. Man, I loved those cookies.

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This recipe from Fine Cooking is close to that original recipe. Oddly enough, it comes from another Chicago native who also called these kolaches— maybe it is a Chicago thing. The dough has a very pleasant sourness which pairs nicely with the sweet fruit filling and the dusting of confectioner’s sugar. The flavor is a real blast from my past and a nice addition to my very own box of cookies.

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Tomorrow I am back with another cookie and another special guest!

Apricot Bow Ties (or Kolaches) (Recipe by Debbie Reid via Fine Cooking)

  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 8 oz. (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 11 1/4 oz (2 1/2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour, sifted; plus more for rolling
  • 1 12-oz. jar good-quality apricot preserves (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • Confectioner’s sugar, for dusting

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter on medium-high speed 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.

Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and the dough gently to form a ball. Divide the dough in thirds, wrap each in plastic wrap, and flatten into squares. Refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight. Heat the oevn to 400 degrees F. Line 3 cookie sheets with parchment paper. 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 pizza cutter, trim the rough edges of the dough so the sides are straight, and then cut into 2-inch squares. Spoon about 1/2 teaspoon of the preserves onto the center of each square. Fold one corner into the center, dab with the beaten egg, and then bring the opposite

corner into the center and pinch firmly together to seal the corners. With a thin spatula, transfer the cookie to the prepared cookie sheet. Repeat the process with the remaining dough.

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 and then dust with confectioner’s sugar.

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Previously on the 12 Days of Cookies:

72 comments to “12 Days of Cookies: #3 Apricot Bow Ties”

  1. Kolaches are not a “weird Chicago thing” they are eastern European cookies. Many people of Polish descent live in Chicago and therefore are fans of these cookies. I’ve never found any to match my grandmother’s version (which was round, not folded, with the jam in the center) but these look good, I may try them.

  2. Hi Cindy, I know what Kolaches are and I am in fact of Polish decent and grew up in Chicago. These do not look like traditional kolaches to me and that is what I was commenting on. I always knew kolaches to be round with jam in the center as well. If you find a good recipe like that, pass it along! Thanks!

  3. The Czechs in central Texas also make traditional kolaches (round, with jam in the center), but I’ve never seen them quite like this. I wonder how they came about?

  4. Awesome Tim! Go Chi-town! Thanks for the recipe. I have always wanted to make this classic. I’ll take them any which way — folded or otherwise. Loving the 12 days!

  5. The round is good too—if you’re looking for something less formal.

  6. Very funny, Bryan, very funny.

  7. Beautiful Kolaches! I did a sampling this march during my tour of central TX.

    What you doing with all your extra cookies?? *wink*

  8. This is mortifying, but I have quite literally just caught myself drooling over this image. Gorgeous, I’m getting on this immediately!

  9. I’m on a little commenting marathon here at L&D, hope that’s okay. With photos and recipes like these, how can I stay silent? It’s impossible. I have to ask – where do you find the time? Between work and my kids, I’ll be lucky to get one kind of cookie out this holiday season, much less 12. I’m a bit envious of all the holiday baking going on around the internet, but… I wouldn’t trade my kids. (ha!) ;)

  10. Hi,

    Check Martha Stewart’s website for round kolaches. I saw them in an old cookies magazine of hers. I am not used to a round shape but the shape you have pictured. Thanks for the recipe.

  11. so adorable. i’ve never heard of these cookies but they surely look tasty. can’t wait to tomorrow’s recipe!

  12. Thanks, Georgine!

  13. Hey Dawn, I am loving the commenting marathon. I do not have kids, which makes a HUGE difference! Also, I am crazy. And honestly, starting to feel a little overwhelmed by the amount of cookies being produced in my kitchen. Feels like we live in a bakery!

  14. Pointy is definitely more formal than round.

  15. How funny, this dough looks a lot like my rugelach recipe! I just roll my fillings up into a twist and slice. This seems like a great solution for when I overdo it on the fillings… which is very often!

  16. Anne Pavlik says:

    December 3rd, 2009 at 1:57 pm

    I’m of Czech descent as well and my dad grew up in Chicago. I make Kolachky every year at Christmas time and will send you my Czech grandma’s recipe if you want. It’s quite similiar to yours only we always use Solo brand filling. Not sure if that was a family thing or a Chicago thing . . .
    Great site by the way!

  17. Hi Anne, my aunt always used solo filling too! Yes, I would love it if you could send the recipe. tim@lottieanddoof.com thanks so much!

  18. Pointy is to bow tie as round is to baseball cap.

  19. I am loving the whole idea of apricot bow ties!
    Well done.

  20. ‘m going to try your recipe this weekend! I haven’t seen this cookie since I left Chicago ten years ago.

  21. Karin's Mom says:

    December 4th, 2009 at 1:51 am

    Thanks, Tim, Keep those cookie recipes coming!

  22. Hi! I’m new here, I found you from 101 Cookbooks, and in reading about you, we are neighbors kind of. I live in Oak Park, not far from Chicago.

    Anyway, I got a tear in my eye when I saw those pastries you made because it brought back memories of my dad making those all through out the year. He went to culinary school when I was in Jr. High and used to do his “homework” in our kitchen! It was pretty sweet and my friends were super jealous! He passed away 11 years ago, and I had forgotten how much I loved his pastries! I think I’ll make these for my kids this Holiday. Thanks for posting the recipe!

    I’ll be coming back again. Have a great weekend!

  23. Oh! kolaches are the best. My German mother made them with a yeast dough with prune and apricot filling. Yum!

  24. I just bought some amazing Apricot Rose Cardamom Jam that I feel would be uber amazing in these cookies.

  25. Whoa, Beth- that does sound like it would be good.

  26. These cookies are actually from Fine Cooking magazine (December 2009, page 94), NOT Saveur magazine. You’re right that Debbie Reid, a reader of Fine Cooking from Clearwater, FL, provided the original recipe in the magazine. Either way, I’m looking forward to trying them.

  27. My aunt (from Poland) used to make these. As a child, I helped with the baking…they looked just like your photo. Thanks for the recipe. All I could remember was to use 1 pound of cream cheese and 1 pound of butter.

  28. debra in doha says:

    December 7th, 2009 at 8:20 am

    hi–both sides of my family are Czech. The recipe from the Chicago side is similar to this–my grandmother used poppy seed (solo?) or apricot preserves and folded them bow-tie shape. the other grandmother grew up in Nebraska and her recipe is round, includes yeast, and has jam in it. Both called “kolatch-kies”, spelled kolaches in the recipes they gave me. definitely must be some eastern european cookie “staple”. :)

  29. I just came across your website and saw this recipe and smiled–I made the dough for these last night, with the plan of rolling them out today! (My original recipe was from Fine Cooking, though, not Saveur, although it looks exactly the same.) Glad to hear they turned out well–looking forward to seeing how mine work out.

  30. Thank you, Bella! Of course, you are correct- these are from Fine Cooking. Too many cookies to keep track of! Thanks for pointing out my mistake!

  31. I am just finishing up a batch of these – they are delish!!! But, be sure to pinch them FIRMLY – my first sheet had a lot of blow outs (oh well, more to sample) I love the 12 days of cookies idea – I’m always looking to add to my repertoire for the holidays.

  32. Pat Ralicki McGowan says:

    December 7th, 2009 at 11:30 am

    This is exactly the recipe my Pittsburgh, PA family has passed down, and they are wonderful!
    We use Solo filling as well. I now use parchment paper for baking, which makes the process much less labor intensive – Just swoop the whole sheet of cookies off to a cooling rack rather than handling each cookie individually. I make these early in December and have frozen them undusted. I would appreciate suggestions for storing these goodies.

  33. Katherine N says:

    December 8th, 2009 at 10:09 am

    Hi guys! I’m a huge fan of your website, incidentally, or I wouldn’t have found these.

    I’m a New Jerseyian expatriate living in London, but of Eastern European descent. As far as I know, my mom is still making these twice a year. We always called them “kiflis”, which appears to be the more-labourious Hungarian version of these “bow ties” cookies.
    They’re EXCEPTIONALLY good with a crushed-walnut-and-honey base filling.

    Just letting you know I’m making a batch to bring to Christmas parties this week!
    Keep on cooking, my friends.

  34. As with Pat, any suggestions on storage? They were so nice and flaky yesterday, I put them in an airtight tin and today they are no longer flaky. Doesn’t affect their yumminess at all, just any way to keep that flake?

  35. Hi Stephanie and Pat: They do lose the flakiness on the second day, like most pastries. Not much you can do about it. Luckily, they maintain a nice flavor for a couple of days. If you are interested in longer term storage, the cookies can be frozen for up to a couple of weeks. Simply thaw and dust with powdered sugar. Again, they will lose that initial flake.

  36. oh yeah I am polish descent, in fact i just moved from poland. theyre actually square.

  37. These are also called rosky — another Polish word. My Polish grandmother and mother have made these for years. My mom swears by Solo apricot filling. She also makes a version filled with a finely ground nut paste that’s wonderful. My favorite, favorite holiday in the world is a mug of hot coffee and a plate of two apricot rosky. Once these have been around a few days it’s helpful to refresh them a bit with some fresh shakes of powdered sugar.

  38. Very pretty and I love the flavor of apricot!

  39. My mom made a version of these. we are polish. My mom’s dough was very flakey though. she would roll it out and layer butter, fold and roll, butter, fold and roll,… almost like a filo dough. i am craving my mom’s that she filled with lekvar… (prune.)

  40. I’m from Chicago and my Mom taught me the bow-tie method. You can actually find the recipe on the back of the can of cherry Solo filling.

  41. I have a version of these cookies from my maternal grandmother who was Slovakian. We did not call them “kolaches.” The dough differs a bit, and following tradtion, I cook down dried apricots for the filling. You can also use lekvar (prune) or a mixture of sugar, chopped walnuts, and egg white as alternative fillings.

  42. Brings back great memories! My mother used to make these cookies with prune butter or apricot jam. She was of Croatian descent and everyone loved these cookies!

  43. My Polish grandmother makes these, and everyone loves them. They are kolaczki–agreed, definitely not “some weird Chicago thing.” In my family, we always make them in this type of shape, but with crimped edges–and never round, though I have seen the round sort sold in stores. We actually have a kolaczki dough cutter we use for the proper shape.

  44. Well, I am Polish and couldn’t even begin to guess what the name of these cookies were, let alone where to begin looking for the recipe. Unfortunately, both of grandmother’s and my Mom have passed away. And there are no other relatives I could ask. So I went to “Google” and typed in “apricot blanket cookies”. Then I hit the “Images” tab and ‘lo and behold, there was a picture of exactly how I remembered these cookies to look! That is what brought me to your site. Thank you for the recipe. My sister should be impressed when I put these out at dessert time. We often comment on how unfortunate it was that most of our women relatives have passed on without leaving some sort of cookbook, recipe box or even a small notebook behind with their favorite recipes written down. There will be a lot of dishes we will miss, not even knowing the names of most of them. My Grandmother used to make this mushroom soup for Christmas Eve every year. I know she sent away for the mushrooms, but other than that , all I do remember is that it was a tomato based soup with a heavy pasta noodle and these weird mushrooms……

    Again, thanks for the memories, and all the comments were definately worth my time too!

  45. yum yum yum! I’m from Chicago and My Mom made these every Christmas. We called them Kolatchkies. I am definitely making these. I love your photos! Beautiful!

  46. My great grandmother brought this recipe to our family from Hungary, she was from a German village in Vezsprem (we’re from NJ), we use the bow tie method. So much more work than your average cookie, but so worth it. Last year I tried substituting preserves with Solo filling and wasn’t happy with the result, they didn’t taste the same. This year I’m trying neufchatel cheese instead of cream cheese and we’ll see how that turns out. Important tips, use a non-stock rolling pin, don’t let the dough become room temperature, keep it chilled until you make your batch. Keep sprinkling flour if you find the dough hard to work with. I don’t use the pizza cutter, just a spatula to cut my squares from the flatly spread dough. Warning, once you make these cookies for people they will demand more, you are then tasked with baking these forever.

  47. My mother was Serbo-Croat and I always thought Kolachys were from her background. This was a specialty of hers. She also made them with ground walnuts which was a favorite of my children’s. I’m making them for the first time, I guess in honor of my mom. Some things always stay with you of the person that is who was so instrumental in our upbringing. I hope I do as good a job as you did mom.

  48. We are from the Pittsburgh area, and there are many eastern European descendants here. We not only make kolaches for Christmas, but they are at all the weddings. My mother’s family is Czech. We make them square, as you have, and we fill them with nut filling (homemade), apricot filling (around here, you can get it at the grocery store in a big piping bag full!) and also poppyseed. I have made them round before, but square has less waste and less rolling! Yummy!

  49. Oh m y gosh, thank you for posting this recipe! My late grandmother on my father’s side used to make cookies just like these and she was the type that never wrote anything down and just made them. She was of Russian and I believe Polish decent. I had been trying to track down these cookies for ages! She made apricot filled ones and the other was a filling similar to a nut roll almost, maybe fig so I had also been looking at the Kifli but I’m almost certain that this is the recipe! Thank you again!!!

  50. My family has made these for years. Never does a Christmas go without many of these made. Our pastry is made with one pound butter, one pound cream cheese, and 5 cups flour, We fill them with Apricot filling, Lekvar, and a walnut filling. I have dough chilling right now and will be making some tonight and the rest tomorrow.

  51. We are Hungarian and this is the recipe we use for Kifli. Grandma used to make them by the hundreds when we were kids, always around Christmas time…we referred to them as Christmas Cookies back then. She did her own walnut & raisin filling, prune lekvar and poppyseed filling. I recently made them for the first time and they turned out beautifully. I make my own homemade apricot butter/lekvar and have a new favorite(Apricot). These are somewhat labor intensive but they are well worth the effort.

  52. Pittsburgh too, ( North Braddock-the original steel city!) and of Carpatho-Rusyn (Austria-Hungary branch) / Slovak parents, and ‘apricot horns’ were THE treat at Christmas and Easter. Also made in nut, poppyseed, and once lekvar, all sweet fillings made at the time by a company ( Baker Brand) right in town on Sixth Street, in the next block down from the original home of Hagan Ice Cream. The best nut filling however was made with my grandmother’s recipe, of hand-ground ( twice_ wlanuts milk sugar and egghite, same ingredients also added to poppyseed soaked in milk. ( Now WHERE ‘s mum’s recipe collection…..)

  53. Robert Gural says:

    April 17th, 2011 at 11:38 pm

    My Mom had a neighbor who made Kolacheke cookies with lard, egg and condensed milk and the dough was rolled into granulated sugar. My Dad still makes them and they are cheap to make and flakey from the lard and various fillings can be used. But beware, these cookies do not keep for a long time due to the lard but can be successfully frozen. Surprisingly flakey and good.

  54. Robert Nicholas says:

    May 15th, 2011 at 8:42 am

    @Tim. These are traditional kolache. Many eastern european countries have made these confectionary wonders for centuries. These happen to be Ukranian in origin. Just because they aren’t polish doesn’t make them any less traditional…

  55. my grandmother made square kolachekies

  56. GREAT BLOG…I’m only sorry I didn’t find it until today! This is the EXACT recipe I was looking for. Although we are some mixed breed hybrid of polish descent and called these cookies kolacheke – I was thrilled to find the “other” kolacheke recipe too…I might make this a 2 baking kolacheke day – thanks to you! Have a great one! Enjoy today – that’s why it’s called the “present” <3

  57. no lie, this is the EXACT same recipe as my Slovak grandmother. They’re so good, right? I was just googling them to see how others made them for my blog (to post to) and your blog popped up! LOVE it. I am partial to a honey glaze as opposed to sugar dust. These just always remind me of Christmas. You’ll be getting a pingback.

  58. Can these be frozen?

  59. Kathy- I haven’t tried. If you do, let us know!

  60. The ladies that commented about the Kolachies being round with fruit fillling may be referring to what most of us call Lindzer Tarts. Your Koachies aka Hungarian Filled Cookies are what we called them. If they google Lindzer Tarts they will surely find that recipe. The Recipe I used for years for Kolachies icalls for
    4 cups of flour, 4 egg yolks, 1/3 cup pint of sour cream 1 lb of butter 4 Tbsp. Sugar, 4 tsp of baking powder. a pinch of salt and a shot of whiskey. Divid into 4 balls of dough, Refrigerate over night. Keep cold cuz its a sticky batter tough to roll out.
    It’s a great recipe makes hundreds of cookies. We use Solo filings apricot, cherry, prune and nut. yummy! But I am trying yours this year. much less expensive!!!

  61. I love these cookies. Yes they are a East European cookie called Kolaches. But I think they are pronounced Kolachky. I live in a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio and I have a lot of East European neighbors, I’ve been eating these for a long time. Thanks for sharing! So I guess you know now it’s not just a Chicago thing….lol! Have a Happy New Year!

  62. I found your site because of a google search for these cookies because I had lost my Polish Grandma’s recipe. Your description of your Aunt bringing a wax paper-lined Marshall Field’s box full of cookies brought back some good ol Chicago memories….! My Mom and Grandma would bake like crazy at Christmas and fill old Fannie May candy boxes with the treats for gifts! The recipe was wonderful and I have enjoyed being on your email list since then!

  63. I enjoyed your recollections of the Marshall Field’s box lined with wax paper. That’s how we always transported our kolachke! Weren’t those boxes wonderful? I still have stuff stored in them in the basement!

    I became the chief kolachke maker in my family when I was in high school. Before that, I helped my mom make them. Kolachke were a mandatory part of EVERY festive meal in my extended family — christenings, baby and wedding showers, graduations, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter… you name it, we made kolachke. The Slovak ladies who attended all these events wanted their kolachke!

    I still make them for Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter, or my husband and sons would revolt. My husband is of Scots background, but he is a happy convert to Slovak home cooking!

    Our family recipe came off the top of the kolachke filling container, which was a tub like for cottage cheese in those days (more recently in a glass jar). We always bought Bohemian Maid brand filling, which we thought was superior to Solo. I have lived all over the world, and have bought countless jars of apricot and povidla fillings whenever I was home for a visit to Chicago, then hand carried them to my home overseas. Bohemian Maid used to be easily available at the Jewel (Chicago-ese, there!) but I haven’t seen it in a while and have only found Solo. Decided to try making my own this time, up here in Toronto, Canada where I currently live.

    I haven’t seen our family recipe on any of the recipe sites. It is similar to the cream cheese-butter recipes, but uses an egg yolk instead of cream cheese. These kolachke retain some flakiness of crust even after a few days, which I think may be due to the egg instead of cream cheese? Don’t know, just guessing. It is very simple.

    Cut together 2 cups sifted flour with 2 sticks butter until coarse. Add the egg yolk and sprinkle with up to 1/4 cup ice water. Gently gather up and knead and mix with your hands just until it is blended and sticks together in a ball. Then stop. Don’t overwork it! Form into two discs and refrigerate for 30 minutes or more. Roll out 1/8″ thick on floured surface, cut into 2″ squares, place 1/2 tsp filling on each square. Then fold over opposite corners, dab with water to help seal and press corners together. The other two corners stay open, as in your kolachke. Bake until slightly golden, sprinkle with powered sugar when cool.

    In my travels, I have converted many people to kolachke. Life is definitely sweeter with these little tarts in it!

  64. Linda Driscoll says:

    December 22nd, 2012 at 12:42 pm

    I love hearing all the stories of growing up in Chicago. My mother was from Eastern Europe and these cookies were always a treat! Been in Tennessee for 7 years and cannot find the solo filling anywhere. It will probably have to be something else I pack in my suitcase to bring back to TN along with pizza,hot giardinara, tamales, etc……

  65. I made your recipe today and they turned out great!…how do you store them?

  66. Alexandra says:

    June 7th, 2013 at 5:11 pm

    This story is so similar to my family! Every holiday we look forward to our aunt making kolaches as well! It’s a Polish thing and there are lots of Polish people in Chicago! This isn’t the traditional way to fold them though. It’s usually just a circle cookie with filling in the center and sprinkled with powdered sugar. My aunt makes the best!!!!

  67. Carol Keblusek says:

    June 7th, 2013 at 7:33 pm

    When I saw this I thought someone posted my recipe! I used to make these many years ago but found a round cutter and use that now. My family goes nuts over these. I use several flavors but they all like the “red” ones. Strawberry, Cherry, Raspberry!
    Best tradition at Holiday time! I use Sole filling as well.

  68. These are the Slovak versions which are a “sweet,” the other ones (rounds) are Polish versions and the dough is slightly different. A third type are round mounds and usually have a savory (meat or vegetable) filling.

    The traditional ones in our family are the Apricot, Nut, and Cherry filled. My mom makes pineapple for my brother, and I make a mixed berry one for my family.

  69. From Russia and we make these often. How many does this recipe make?

  70. My grandmother was from Slovakia and made Kolatches every Christmas. They are a yeast based recipe with no sugar in the dough (and no cream cheese) but rolled in sugar and dusted with powdered sugar. They were square but folded like a pinwheel so lots of work although we also fold them like the picture. They were filled with ground walnuts or apricot. We also used solo but I haven’t found it in years – do the still make it? I love that everyone used it! Bon Mamman apricot preserves are a good substitute. Thanks for sharing!

  71. Tim – Thank you so much for posting this recipe. I too am Bohemian Czech and my Great Grandparents moved to Chicago in the 1890′s. My Grandma would make these kolaches using the Solo brand fillings. Like yours, her kolaches were the smaller version but cut with a cookie round and then pinched in the middle. After discovering a Solo brand recipe in her recipe box and learning that Solo was a Chicago based company, I came to the conclusion that the smaller version might be a Chicago thing. I now live in Texas and the fruit based kolaches are the larger, (palm-size) with a fruit filling.

    Anyway, I thought this recipe was lost 20 years ago with the passing of my grandma. After discovering her Solo recipe and seeing your pictures, I was able to bake a batch this morning and brought a flood of happy tears. They were almost perfect. The taste was spot on but I need to work on my dough rolling Mine came out a little thicker than I remember.

    Thanks again for posting the inspiring photos!

  72. I love these cookies! I used raspberry preserves and they came out really well! I was wondering if you could make the dough and then freeze it? Thanks for the recipe!

What do you think?