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.
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!
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!) ;)
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!
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!
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!
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!
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.
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.
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”. :)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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!!!
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.
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.
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…..)
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.
@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…
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
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.
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!!!
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!
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!
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!
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……
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!!!!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!!
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!
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.
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!
My mother made these for years. She made them with the cooked apricots that she cooked on the stove. She also made them into a turnover shape and then dusted with powdered sugar Yum Yum easy and great.