One of my fondest Christmas memories is that of our visits with my childhood mentor, Dr. Florence Warner. She had a Czechoslovakian housekeeper, Helen, who made the most wonderful cookies ever. Among others, there were always plates of Kolaches, both apricot and nut filled. I could never politely get enough!
For the Dough:
1/2 pound unsalted butter, softened
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 Tbsp powdered sugar
1 pinch salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar, for rolling
For the Apricot Filling:
3/4 cup dried apricots, chopped
1 1/2 cups water
2 Tbsp sugar
For the Nut Filling:
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 cups finely chopped walnuts
3 Tbsp butter, melted
1. For the Dough:
2. In a medium bowl, sift the flour and salt together and set aside.
3. With an electric mixer, beat the butter and cream cheese together until creamy. Slowly add the flour in several additions, beating until fully incorporated each time. The dough should be soft, but not sticky. If needed, beat in just a little more flour, a Tbsp at a time.
4. Divide the dough into 4 equal portions and flatten each to 3/4″ thick. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until hard, at least 2 hrs. Meanwhile, make the filling.
5. For the Apricot Filling:
6. Combine the apricots and water in a heavy saucepan and cook, covered, over medium heat for 10 minutes, or until apricots are soft. Uncover and cook 5 to 10 minutes longer, or until most of the water has been absorbed.
7. Mash the apricots, then stir in the sugar and set aside to cool.
8. For the Nut Filling:
9. Combine all ingredients, mixing well, and set aside.
10. For Assembly:
11. Preheat the oven to 375°. Move the oven rack one level higher than the center.
12. Take one of the disks of dough from the refrigerator and lightly flour both sides. Spread the granulated sugar on a clean work surface. Place the dough on top and roll out to a thin 1/8″.
13. With a pastry wheel or sharp knife, trim the edges of the dough to square it off. Save the scraps in the refrigerator to re-roll. Cut the dough into small squares, about 1 1/2″ to 2″ each.
14. Place a dollop of filling diagonally in the center of each square. Gently grab two opposing corners of the square and fold them to the center, one point over the other. Gently press to seal. Arrange all the filled kolaches on a parchment lined baking sheet, no closer than 1″ apart.
15. Bake 12-14 minutes, or until the bottom edges are golden. Let cool briefly on the baking sheet, then move to a wire rack to cool completely.
16. Any remaining filling can be frozen to use at a later date, or you can just make up another half batch or so of dough while you’re at it.