Kolache Cookies Vs. Kolache Pastry

The origin of the kolache is said to be both Polish and Czechoslovakian, and can refer to a number of butter based pastries that include cream cheese.

kolache cookie

Walking into a kitchen in mid- to late December, might reveal the floors, and countertops of those who celebrate with food covered in flour and melted chocolate with dozens of cookies cooling on the island.

This is Christmas cookie season, and staples like Italian rum balls and sugar cookies, might be accompanied by the traditional spritz, pecan snowballs and shortbread. Cookie experimentation could result in anything from intricate cookie sandwiches to stained glass cookies made out of crushed candy. With all of those options, you might find your favorite in the humble kolache cookie (also known as "kolacky").

Kolache Cookie Origins

The origin of the kolache is said to be both Polish and Czechoslovakian, and can refer to a number of butter based pastries that include cream cheese. The kolache cookie is no exception, and the simplicity of this treat lies in its five ingredients: butter, cream cheese, flour, jam, and powdered sugar. The cookies are made by folding two corners of a square over the jam filling.

No matter the European background, the fun of Christmas cookie season is to bring these little treats into your own baking tradition. You may just start a ritual that is celebrated years from now with members of your family vying for the best of the baked batch, and arguing who gets the most kolaches in their coveted Christmas tin.

Exploring Sweet Filling

The sweet filling for these little gems is worth exploring. The many recipes for kolache cookies call for jam, but just remember that there are so many varieties of jam to be had. You don't need a batch of just strawberry jam kolaches. Let's stretch our collective holiday palates over apricot, blackberry, cherry, or boysenberry jam. Another option you can always use store-bought fruit pie filling. And perhaps one thin slice of fruity could be nestled in there to top of the deliciousness.

Kolache Pastry Variations

To many, a kolache is not a cookie, but instead a pastry. What can be put into these pastries is varied and delicious. Just skip the sweeter side and go straight to savory with our Spicy Sausage and Cheddar Kolaches. These little pockets of flavorful delight are best served out of the oven, still warm.

Don't get us wrong, the pastry version is also a win with the sweet addition of jam or pie-filling. But the charm of a savory kolache cannot be denied. As a matter of fact, Texas has multiple communities of Czech immigrants sprinkled through a broad swath of Central Texas called the Czech Belt. And within these communities, the tendency to fill dough with rich savory flavor and bake it is a treasure to anyone who wants a bite of Eastern Europe.

Of the Czech communities in the U.S., Texas is the only state in the South to have such a prevalent population. Other states that benefit from the Czech approach to pastry are Ohio and Wisconsin. But if you do your research on the stretch of the Lone Star State that does have culinary influence from Czechoslovakia, you might very well find yourself on a road trip with only one destination: "Which kolache next?"

Best Cookies Recipes: Jam Kolache Recipes
Photo: Oxmoor House

Tips for Kolache Cookie Success

For kolache cookie prep, It's super important to layer your work surface with a mixture of flour and powdered sugar. Don't be stingy; this dough is sticky! And having said that we are wondering if you have ever tried hand-kneading your cookie dough with the aid of a one gallon ziploc bag. If not, give it a try. It aids in the mess and helps to do the mixing job faster.

Once you start dousing everything with the flour-and-sugar mixture, it's a game changer. (And the extra sugar makes the dough that much better!) Also, since it has to be spread out so thin, it's a lot easier to work in batches. The main star of the kolache is the filling, so a thin cookie is what tastes best. Don't worry, picture-perfect presentation isn't important when they taste this good. Take our word for it.

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