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:

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

  1. 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.

  2. Can these be frozen?

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

  4. 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!!!

  5. 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!

  6. 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!

  7. 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!

  8. 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……

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

  10. 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!!!!

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

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

  14. 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!

  15. 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!

  16. 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!

  17. I think our grandmas must have all be friends in Chicago! My grandma (from Chicago, who is Czech and married my Polish grandpa) always made these, some round and some in this bowtie shape, for holidays- and now my mom does. We use the solo filling or make a cream cheese filling. I wonder if we could trace all these sweet grandma’s to the same neighborhood! :) Thanks for posting!!

  18. I, too, am from Chicago, and our neighbors were Czech. They made these, used cream cheese, butter, etc. They were cut in squares, filled, and the points brought to the middle and pinched. We use cherry, apricot, pineapple, and berry preserves. They are sooo good. It is kind of like pizza. There are so many varieties, but they are all yummy! Merry Christmas!

  19. My Grandmother was from Northwest Indiana, near Chicago, she made these as well. Her dough was made with lard, no cream cheese. I make them every year, with the same recipe, they are light and more like a crust.

  20. My grandmother and I made a version of these when I was a child. She didn’t use egg, just a little cold water if needed. Both opposite corners were folded into the center to make a little, square “pillow”. She would use a variety of jam flavors for filling–apricot, raspberry, strawberry. They were all delicious and everyone in our family loved them. I still make them and the reaction is the same. Mine aren’t the same as grandma’s. She added flour based on the feel of the dough. I more or less rely on the recipe. I was too young to fully understand the feel aspect. She baked all the time and was a whiz at all of it. We were the lucky recipients!

  21. I found these at a European Deli. Nice variation of our Czech Kolaches that my grandmother, mother, and aunt and I made. I have not tried to make the cookie yet…but they’re on my “to do” list!

What do you think?