Apricot Kolaches (aka Hungarian Kiffles) are a traditional Hungarian Christmas cookie. A flakey cream cheese pastry dough is rolled in sugar then filled with an easy apricot filling!
I had other (healthier) plans for today’s post, but these little, two-bite Hungarian Christmas Cookies (Kiffles / Kolaches) are just too good not to share immediately! So good, in fact, there were barely enough left to photograph this morning! [Oops]
Sweet, crispy and addicting, these Apricot Kolaches are sensational! The apricot filling is just the right amount of sweet to set off the flakey, buttery pastry.
In an attempt to get these little kolaches as close to my Husband’s Hungarian Grandmother’s as possible, I would make a batch and then call him into the kitchen for an inspection and a taste test. The first batch needed to be thinner and he remembered that hers had a granulated sugar coating.
The addition of the granulated sugar coating elevated these little apricot kolaches far above the rest! Based on my extensive Internet research, rolling the dough out in sugar is not traditional.
The sugar caramelized on the bottom and the resulting flavor combination is something I’ve never experienced. It is no wonder that my Husband remembers these kolaches from so long ago. They are truly something special.
Sweet, crispy, and addicting Apricot Kolaches. The filling has just the right amount of sweetness to offset the flakey, buttery pastry.
For the Pastry:
2 ¼ cups all purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
8 oz cream cheese
1 cup unsalted butter (softened)
½ cup granulated sugar for rolling
For the Apricot Filling:
1 lb dried apricots
1 cup sugar
To Make the Apricot Filling:
Place dried apricots in a small saucepan and pour in just enough water to cover the apricots. Boil until the apricots are soft. Do not let all the water evaporate. Add a little bit more to keep the filling from burning.
Add the sugar and continue to cook until thick.
Either puree in a food processor or with an immersion blender in a bowl. If the filling is too runny, return it to the sauce pot to continue to cook.
Note: You can make the filling ahead of time and freeze it until you are ready to use it. Just thaw at room temperature when you are ready to use.
For the Pastry Dough:
Sift flour and salt together in a medium bowl and set aside.
Beat the cream cheese and butter together with a stand mixer or a hand mixer until completely incorporated and creamy (3-5 minutes).
Reduce the speed of the mixer and slowly add in the flour. I used 5 additions and completely mixed in the flour each time. The dough will be soft but not sticky.
Divide the dough into 4 equal parts and flatten each to ¾” thick. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until hard, at least 2 hours.
Assembling the Kolaches:
Pre-heat the oven to 375*. Move the oven rack one setting higher than the center.
Take one of the disks of dough from the refrigerator and lightly flour both sides. Spread granulated sugar on your pastry board or work surface. Place the dough on top and roll out pastry to 1/16” to 1/8” thick. Most recipes say 1/8” but my Husband remembered them being thinner.
With a pastry wheel or sharp knife, trim the dough into a square and then cut the square into 16 smaller squares. My dough never rolled out into a perfect circle so I would just cut as many 1 1/2 “ squares a possible, saving the scraps for later.
Place a dollop of filling into the center of each square. I used ½ teaspoon to ¾ teaspoon for each.
Gently grab two opposite corners and fold one over the other, gently pressing down to try and seal them together. Gently move it to a parchment covered baking sheet. Repeat with all remaining squares.
Sprinkle the middles of the kolaches with just a touch of granulated sugar.
Placing the kolaches no closer than 1” apart.
Bake 12-14 minutes or until the bottom edges are a golden and you can smell them. Let cool slightly on the pan on a wire rack and then move them gently to a wire rack to cool completely.
Repeat with all remaining dough. Refrigerate and re-roll your scraps. Amazing.
Notes: You will have lots of filling left over. If you don’t want to freeze the remainder, you can probably halve the recipe above. You can also use prepared pastry, not pie, filling, but there are so many additives that the minimal extra effort is totally worth making homemade.
For a more traditional cookie, you can omit the granulated sugar and dust the final, cooled cookie with powdered sugar.