Traditional Homemade Polish Kolache Cookies are lightly sweet and delicate cream cheese cookies filled with your choice of jam.
I’ve always loved unusual cookies, and these ones are super fun & interesting. The cookie dough actually has no sugar in it. The sweetening comes from the filling as well as the fact that some people roll the dough out in either confectioner’s sugar (also called icing sugar) or granulated sugar.
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Cookie exchange group
I’m in a cookie group on Facebook, and the ladies all talk about Kolache cookies, and how amazing they are. So, I knew I had to give them a try.
I’ve seen the ladies in the group use many names to call these cookies. Kolache, Kiffle, Kiflis, Kolach, Kolaches, Kolachy, kolacki, kolacky, Kolaczki, Kołaczki, Hungarian keflee, or Jam-Filled Cream Cheese Cookies.
On a side note, some people say that “kolachi” is a bready nut or jam filled roll, while “kolacky” is a buttery cookie with jam or nut filling.
And, they’ve shared quite a few tips and tricks for the best Polish Kolaczki cookies in the group, which I’ve tried to gather up and share with you!
What are kolachy cookies?
Kolaczki is a traditional Polish cookie that’s popular in Poland, the Czech Republic, Russia, Austria, Denmark, and now I’m seeing them in the USA as well.
Some recipes are made with yeast, while some are made with cream cheese. Some cookies are squares with the corners tucked up, while some are round. I’ve also seen thumbprint versions of them as well.
This recipe for these cookies is made from a soft flaky, pie crust-like, pastry, cream cheese dough that’s cut into squares, and folded over a variety of fillings, from fruit jams, preserves, figs, nuts, sweet cheese, or poppy seeds.
They’re great cookies for the holidays when they’re filled with different colored jewel-like jam fillings. Try strawberry or raspberry for red colors. Apricot makes a pretty yellow-y filled cookie. Fig and nut fillings are great for darker colors.
Pro tips for the best cookies
These cookies are delicious, and even if they don’t come out picture perfect, they taste amazing. Here are some of the tips I’ve learned in the cookie group.
If you’re looking for even more baking tips, be sure to check out my post with lots of helpful info!
And don’t forget to scroll down to the printable recipe card for all the ingredient amounts and instructions.
Making the dough
First, you’ll want to get all your ingredients out and have them at room temperature.
Cream together (mix together) the cream cheese and butter until smooth and fluffy.
Mix in the flour. The dough will be dry and crumbly. Don’t worry, after pressing it together, and letting it rest in the fridge, it forms a nice easy to work with dough.
Refrigerate the dough until cold, at least a couple of hours. Or, you could make it ahead of time and store it in the fridge for a couple of days.
Rolling out the dough
Take the dough out of the fridge. It may be very cold, and rock hard. Let it sit out for 5 to 15 minutes to let it soften up enough to be workable.
Roll out the dough into a uniform 1/8-inch to ¼-inch thickness. If the cookies are thicker than that, they don’t like to stay sealed when they bake.
If you find the dough is too sticky to roll out nicely, try rolling it out between two sheets of parchment, that way the dough doesn’t stick to the table or rolling pin.
I love the tip that I leaned about rolling the dough out on a surface that’s been dusted with confectioner’s sugar. It’ll help the dough not stick, and won’t make your cookies too dry. And, without the extra incorporated flour, the dough can be re-rolled time and time again, right down to the last crumb.
Want more of a crispy sugar on top of your cookies? Dust the work surface with granulated sugar before rolling the dough out. Also, you can dust the filled cookies with granulated sugar before baking them to create a crispy outside.
Trim the edges off the dough to square it up, and cut it in to squares about 2 & ½-in square.
Filling the dough
Put about 1 teaspoon jam in the middle of each square. Don’t overfill the cookies, as that can make them open up during baking.
Seedless jam will work better, as the seeds can distract from the beautifully soft texture of the cookies.
Fold the opposite corners of the dough up over the filling. Seal them together by pressing with one finger inside, one over, using a little water to help them seal if needed.
Place the cookies on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat, and bake for 15-18 minutes, or until the cookies are lightly golden around the edges.
Lining the baking sheets with parchment paper sure makes clean up easier!
Place the cookie sheet on a wire rack, and carefully slip the cookie sheet out from under the parchment paper, leaving the parchment paper and the cookies to cool on the wire rack.
Let the cookies cool on the wire rack, then dust with confectioner’s sugar (powdered sugar) before serving.
There are a couple of things that keep coming up in the cookie group that many people seem to be having issues with. And, even in my testing of these cookies, I encountered both of these issues.
But again, the cookies are still delicious, even if some of the filling leaks out or the cookies open up.
My cookies keep opening up
If you find that some of the cookies are opening up, and unfolding while in the oven, there are a couple of things you can try.
Make sure that your dough is uniform thickness, and about 1/8 to ¼ inch thick.
Don’t pull the dough too tight over the filling.
The dough puffs up a bit as it bakes, and can cause the fold to open.
Be relatively firm when pinching the two sides together.
Dab a little water in between the two pieces to help them stick together. Make a cornstarch slurry with 1 tablespoon cornstarch to 1 tablespoon water and use that to “glue” the two pieces together. I’ve also seen suggestions for using some milk or a bit of egg wash to pinch the two sides together.
One woman suggested that she closes them and then pierces them together with toothpicks.
Let the filled cookies rest for a half hour in the fridge before placing them in the oven. Chilled dough will not expand as much as a more room temperature dough.
Some people have given up on the folded style, and make them into thumbprint cookies.
And, just remember, even if they open up, they’re still delicious! I’d be happy to come over and help you dispose of them!
The filling leaks out during baking
This can happen when you use a thinner jam. I filled some of my cookies with lemon curd, and the curd all leaked out. But you know what, the cookies were still amazing. They had a nice lemony hint to them, which I adore!
You can use a little cornstarch to thicken any jam or jelly.
Make sure not to overfill the cookies. Just about a teaspoon of filling is great.
I’ve seen many people say that Solo Pastry and Cake filling is a great way to go, and they have lots of different flavors. It’s thicker than many jams, so it doesn’t spread and melt all over the cookie sheet when baking.
The cookies I baked with my fig jam and with Bonne Maman blackberry preserves both were great with no leaking problems of any kind.
Just know that some fillings may leak more than others, and the cookies are still delicious!
How do I store these cookies?
Kolaczki cookies will stay fresh at room temperature for up to 5 days. Let them cool completely on the wire rack, then place them in an airtight container or resealable bag.
Can I freeze these cookies?
Kolache cookie dough can be wrapped tightly and stored frozen for up to 3 months. When you’re ready to use it, let it defrost in the fridge overnight.
The baked Kolache cookies also freeze well; store them in an air tight freezer safe container for up to 30 days.
Cookies for Kids’ Cancer
Today’s cookies are in support of Cookies for Kids’ Cancer. And this wonderful event is hosted by The Sweetest Season.
They are a recognized 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to funding research for new, innovative and less-toxic treatments for childhood cancer. Since 2008, Cookies for Kids’ Cancer has granted nearly $18 million to pediatric cancer research in the form of 100+ research grants to leading pediatric cancer centers across the country.
Cookies for Kids’ Cancer is in a match window with their friends at OXO, who will be matching every dollar raised through the end of the year up to $100,000. So whatever money we raise will automatically double!
Want to help out and donate? Hop over to Cookies for Kids’ Cancer fundraising page for more information and to donate.
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Kolache Cookies Recipe
- 3 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
- 4 ounces unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
- 6 tablespoon jam flavors of your choice
- confectioner’s sugar aka icing sugar for rolling out and dusting baked cookies
Make the dough
- Cream together the cream cheese and butter until smooth and fluffy.
- Mix in the flour, around a third at a time, until just combined. Form the dough into a disk, and wrap with plastic wrap. Place the dough in the fridge until cold, a couple of hours to a couple of days.
Roll out and bake the cookies
- Preheat the oven to 350° F.
- Roll the dough out on a surface that’s been lightly dusted with confectioner’s sugar. Roll it to a uniform thickness of ¼ to 1/8-inch thick.
- Trim the edges off the dough and cut it in to squares about 2 & ½-inches square.
- Place 1 teaspoon jam in the middle of each square and fold over the opposite corners. Dab a small amount of water between the two edges, and seal the corners together by pressing the two edges firmly together.
- Place the cookies on a parchment paper lined baking sheet, and bake, about 15-18 minutes, or until lightly browned around the edges.
- Remove the cookie sheet from the oven, and place it on a wire rack. Carefully remove the cookie sheet out from under the parchment paper, leaving the parchment paper and the cookies on the wire rack to cool.
- Dust with confectioner’s sugar before serving.
Nutritional information is based on third-party calculations, and should be considered estimates. Actual nutritional content will vary based on brands used, measuring methods, portion sizes, and more.