My husband’s family has Slovak heritage, and these sweet little kolacky/kolache Slovak Sweet Dough with Filling cookies have been a Christmas tradition in his family for generations.
Sometimes spelled kolach, kolache, or kolace, these little fruit-filled pastries came to the United States with Czech immigrants in the late 19th century.
In Iowa specifically, kolacky are often associated with the Cedar Rapids and Pocahontas areas, where they were introduced by Czech immigrants in the 1870s, and have been a bakery tradition ever since.
Until recently, I had never tried my hand at making them, instead enjoying the ones skillfully prepared by my mother-in-law. But last Saturday, we invited her over for a fun day of baking, to actually teach us her method of making these little beauties.
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How to Make Kolacky/Kolache (Slovak Sweet Dough with Filling)
Cream Cheese Cold Dough for Kolaches
My mother-in-law uses a simple dough made with flour, cream cheese, and butter. She told us that her grandmother used to make a yeasted version, that was larger, but she had never made them that way herself. I’d like to try that version sometime, too.
After the dough is mixed, divide it into three equal balls, wrap in cling wrap and refrigerate for about an hour to make it easier to work with.
Roll the Dough & Fill the Slovak Cookies
Roll the dough out very thin–1/8 of an inch– and then cut into approximately 3-inch squares. It’s really important to get the dough thin, or your cookies will be too puffy.
Place about a teaspoon of filling into each square, and then fold two corners inward, pinching them together to hold.
We made a nut filling with ground walnuts, and then used raspberry and apricot Solo filling for the fruit ones.
After a while, my mother-in-law and I were ready for a break, so my husband whipped us up a cocktail and then he took a spin with the rolling pin!
At this point, we started experiencing some quality control issues. Not sure if the problem was with the hubby or the cocktail. Probably both. 😂🤣🍹
You Can Use a Cutter
As a result of the quality control issues, I decided we needed a more uniform way to cut, so I got out a 3-in round biscuit cutter.
We did better after that, but this batch didn’t have the pointed wings that are characteristic of this type of kolacky.
We experimented with a few other methods of folding them that my mother-in-law said were also traditional ways, but in the end, we all agreed that we liked her version the best.
I ended up ordering this set of square cutters, so that next year we can do better in our uniformity. 🤣
Thanks, Mama J!
It ended up being a great day, and not only did we have fun, but now we know how to make this family recipe ourselves, and can continue to pass it on to future generations!
My Mother-in-Law’s Kolacky Recipe
- 2 8 oz packages of cream cheese
- 2 cups butter
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- Beat butter and cream cheese until smooth.
- Slowly add flour, mixing until fully incoporated.
- Divide dough into 3 balls, and wrap in cling wrap. Chill for about an hour, for easier handling when rolling out dough.
- Lightly flour counter or dough board. Roll dough out to about an 1/8 thick. You want it fairly thin.
- With a pastry or pizza wheel (or 3" square cookie cutter), cut dough into 3" squares.
- Place a teaspoon of filling in center of each square and bring 2 opposite corners together and pinch.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 17 minutes until lightly brown. When cool, sprinkle with powdered sugar.
- We usually make these in 3 flavors. Solo rasperry and apricot are the fruit fillings we use, and the nut filling below.
- 2 cups ground walnuts, 2 tablespoons melted butter, ½ cup sugar, ¼ cup sour cream, 1½ teaspoons vanilla, 2 eggs whites stiffly beaten.Mix first five ingredients together and then fold in egg whites.
My Mom’s Sugar Cookies
My mom’s soft and cakey sugar cookies are a traditional recipe that my side of the family associates with Christmas.
Last Christmas, I made my mom’s cookies, and my mother-in-law and niece made the kolache, so we could have both for our Christmas dessert tray.
Do you have traditional holiday recipes that have been passed down through the generations? Have they evolved, or do you still make them exactly the way your ancestors did?
I’d love to hear about it in the comments. I love traditions and am always so interested in how other families and cultures pass them along over the years.
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13 thoughts on “Kolacky/Kolache (Slovak Sweet Dough with Filling)”
I have not made this recipe but will. My father’s family is Slovak and lived in Pittsburgh PA. My grandmother made the nut horns and apricot kolachys always, but we could never get the recipe since it was a handful of this and a pinch of that. I hope this will be the recipe.
I hope you enjoy it, and that it brings back memories for your family. 🙂
Hi House on Silverado…..looking for an easier version of kolachky without yeast..going to try it this week..thanks for sharing..my Hungarian grandmother made these every holiday..something to look forward to..she has Slovaks in her family, too.. have a wonderful holiday, all..
Thank you for sharing at #OverTheMoon. Pinned and shared. Have a lovely week. I hope to see you at next week’s party too! Please stay safe and healthy. Come party with us at Over The Moon! Catapult your content Over The Moon! @marilyn_lesniak @EclecticRedBarn
Hi, I’m making these right now. I’m from the Pittsburgh PA area and I have my Slovak Grandma’s recipe, she called them “horns”.
We only roll them out thinly in granulated sugar, because the dough has no sugar in it. Try it!
She passed when I was 5 years old.
This recipe is over 65 years old. The best!
This recipe calls for sour cream it says 1/4. Is it cup?
Yes, there is 1/4 cup of sour cream in the nut filling.
Hi Niki. Yourpost was very interesting. My husband comes from Czech heritage and his family makes kolaches with prune,poppyseed, apricot, cherry and sometimes cottage cheese ( not my favorite). They use yeast in the dough, roll the dough in small balls, make indents in the middle and fill with one of the fillings. Yours look a lot easier to make.
Oh thanks for sharing this. My mothers family was Slovak
This was a great post it brought back many memories and gave me a bit of history I did not know. We bought Koclaches at a Bakery in a town named West. It is in Texas not the region. It is on the way to Waco. My mother had fair there. I would love for you come over and link at the Fabulous Party. The party is over here http://myjourneyback-thejourneyback.blogspot.com/2020/12/the-fabulous-party.html?m=0
Thanks, Sherry…..glad you are enjoying it! Thanks…I just joined your link party and am following you. Great blog!
You are very welcome! If you watch the presentation, you will see that poppy seeds are almost mystical in Slovakia. The presenters also have a book about Slovakia – from pre Christian times to present. The Legend of the Linden: A History of Slovakia. It is available on Amazon…I bought it “to me – from me” for Christmas. It would make a great gift. Also waiting for my Ancestry DNA to come back but doing family tree I have found SO much about where my family came from in Slovakia. Merry Christmas to you and your family !
Hi Niky – Slovak girl here ! My mom made these – and tons of other cookies – each year. She made the nut and then a pineapple filling. Yummy. I have not made them, but I do make Slovak nut roll….also sometimes called Kolachy. My mom mad poppyseed, but not as many people like that. I just watched a Zoom session from Slovakia about traditions and poppy seed was huge in olden days. The session was wonderful and explained many of the Slovak Christmas Eve traditions. If you or your mother in law are interested, they recorded it and here is the link. https://dcslovaks.org/sasw-speakers-series-slovak-and-czech-christmas-traditions-sunday-december-13-2020/ Merry Christmas!
Oh my gosh, thanks so much for sharing this! I will show it to my mother-in-law!
The pineapple filling sounds wonderful! Do you make it yourself?
I’m not a big poppyseed fan, but my husband and his family are! It’s clearly the Slovak influence! 🙂 He was just reminiscing the other night about how his parents used to bring home a poppyseed roll from a local bakery when he was a kid, and how he wished we could find something similar around here.
Thanks so much for sharing the video and your Slovak baking traditions with me. 🙂 Merry Christmas!