These traditional Hungarian Walnut Rolls have a sweet, nutty filling inside a flakey, rich pastry! While they are traditionally made at Christmastime, they are outstanding any time of year!
Day 2 of the annual 12 Days of Christmas Cookies 2021!
These traditional Hungarian Walnut Rolls are technically a Christmas cookie but I like to think of them as a Make-Any-Day-Better cookie. These Hungarian specialties are another one of my Husband's favorite cookies from childhood. They utilize the same cream cheese dough as the Hungarian Apricot Kolaches but they taste remarkably different.
When I first tasted them this Christmas, I knew these Walnut Rolls (or, as they are also called, Nut Horns) should not be restricted to Christmas to compete with the Gingerbread Boys, Snowballs, or Molasses Spice Cookies. No, no. They are waaay too special for that.
This week when I found out that a friend, and lover of Hungarian treats, needed a good old-fashioned sugar pick me up, I jumped at the opportunity to bake him something close to his heart. These Hungarian Walnut Rolls have a delicately flakey yet rich crust, and an incredibly sweet, irresistible walnut filling! The outside of the roll in generously coated in sugar, which creates a sumptuous caramelized crust on the bottom and a crunchy, sugary sweet coating on top.
They are like little bites of Heaven!
It took several tries around Christmastime to recreate these Walnut Rolls the way that my Husband remembers his Grandmother’s tasting. I am happy to report that I have finally nailed it. The length of the instructions should not be a deterrent. They are really quite simple but I wanted to make sure you could recreate these magical cookies the first time!
I also threw a few of these Mini Chocolate Chip Cookies into the package because chocolate never hurts and they are irresistible!
And don't miss out on Day 1, these Pizzelle cookies are for the first day of my 12 Days of Christmas Cookies!
Authentic Hungarian Walnut Rolls
For the Pastry:
To make the Walnut Filling:
- Mix filling in a medium bowl using only ¼ cup of the boiled milk. The mixture should be thick.
- If the filling is not spreadable, use the rest of the milk. I used all of it. It will thicken as it sits.
- 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 Walnut Rolls:
- Pre-heat the oven to 375F. Move the oven rack one setting higher than the center.
- Dust each side of the dough with flour. Generously coat a flat surface (countertop, marble board, etc.) with granulated sugar. Plop the dough on top and press gently to push some crystals into the dough. The sugar will keep your dough elevated off the rolling surface enough to keep it from sticking. Lightly coat the rolling pin with flour throughout the process, using as little as possible.
- 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 ½ “ squares a possible, saving the scraps for later.
- Place a dollop of filling in one corner of each square. I used ½ teaspoon.
- Starting in the corner with the filling, roll the dough around the filling from corner to corner, gently pressing down as you roll. Grab the roll on both sides and pinch as you bend the roll to create a crescent shape. Gently move it to a parchment covered baking sheet, placing the Rolls no closer than 1” apart.
- Repeat with all remaining squares.
- Sprinkle the middles of the Rolls with just a touch of granulated sugar.
- Bake 12-14 minutes or until the bottom edges are a golden and you can smell them. They should puff up slightly in the middle. With experience you can see when the dough is cooked. 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.
- For a more traditional cookie, you can omit the granulated sugar and dust the final, cooled cookie with powdered sugar. I will warn you that it won’t be as divine.