Christmas cookies – there are so many bad ones out there. You know the ones that taste like nothing except sugar, or the ones with fake-tasting frosting?
No thanks, I'd rather have some cheese for the same calorie hit.
The way I see it if you're going to indulge over the holidays, you should at least be eating the best Christmas cookies you've ever had. These cookies are special. The recipe is from my grandmother, Helen, who I suppose learned it from her Hungarian relatives. They are similar to rugelach, but about a million times better because they're made with sour cream, not cream cheese, which turns out a much lighter cookie. Filled with apricot, walnuts, and prune filling and rolled into a crescent shape, they are also known as Kiffles but they were always just called Hungarian Cookies in our family. After you've taken the time to make these, I think you'll agree that these are the best Christmas cookies you'll ever eat. There is nothing like eating a few for breakfast with a steaming cup of coffee on Christmas morning surrounded by your family and the glowing Christmas Tree.
I'll take one of each, please.
Now that I'm eating a ketogenic (low carb, high fat) diet I'll be experimenting with this recipe over the holidays to make it less carb-heavy. If you would like to too, you can start by with swapping out the sugar for Swerve confectioners no-carb sweetener. (For a full run down of the 5 best keto-approved sweeteners, go here.)
TIP: Make up the three fillings the day prior to baking. Just refrigerate them covered overnight, then allow to come to room temperature before making up the dough & rolling it out. Also, you'll need to get yourself a pastry cutter wheel to cut out the dough with a pretty fluted edge. Enjoy!
the best Hungarian cookies you'll ever eat
Yield 5 -6 dozen depending on how big you cut them out.
- 4&1/2 C King Arthur unbleached flour (preferably organic), plus more for flouring hands and counter.
- 1 C sugar
- 2 sticks unsalted butter
- ½ tsp. kosher salt
- 4 tsp. baking powder
- 3 eggs
- 1 tsp. organic pure vanilla extract-Nielsen-Massey is the best
- 8 oz. or ½ pt. sour cream
- powdered sugar (optional)
For the Walnut Filling:
- 2 C walnuts, chopped
- ½ C sugar
- ¼ C milk
For the Prune Filling:
- 1 lb. pitted prunes
- ½ tsp. cinnamon
For the Apricot Filling:
- 1 lb. dried apricots, chopped
- ¼ C sugar
- Walnut Filling: Heat together chopped walnuts, milk, and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat until the sugar is melted. About 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Place into a covered container and set aside until ready to fill cookies.
- Prune filling: Place prunes in the saucepan. Fill the saucepan with just enough water to cover the prunes. Simmer on medium heat until prunes are tender, about 15-20 minutes. Drain prunes. Transfer to a bowl, add cinnamon and mash well with a fork. Place into a covered container and set aside until ready to fill cookies.
- Apricot Filling: Place apricots in a saucepan. Fill the saucepan with enough water to just cover the apricots. Simmer on medium-high heat, covered until apricots are tender and most of the water has been absorbed; about 20-25 minutes. Drain apricots. Add sugar to the pan and mash well with a potato masher. Alternately, you can also use an immersion blender or blend them up in a food processor. Place into a covered container and set aside until ready to fill cookies.
- Cookies: Preheat oven to 350º F. Bring butter to room temperature.
- Cream together butter and sugar with a mixer.
- In a separate bowl, add dry ingredients, mixing to combine.
- Add dry ingredients to the butter & sugar, a cupful at a time, mixing on medium speed, until combined.
- Whisk together eggs, vanilla, and sour cream in a separate bowl, then add the dry mixture. Work dough together gently with a spatula until mixed. The dough will be sticky.
- Liberally flour a clean work surface. Flour your hands and sprinkle flour over dough. Place dough on your floured work surface and divide into thirds.
- Place two of the dough balls into a bowl and cover with a damp towel to keep them from drying out while you roll out the other one.
- Roll out the dough ball into a squarish shape using a floured rolling pin with light forward strokes (do not push down with your pin) until the dough is ¼" thick. Keep flouring your rolling pin &/or dust the top of the dough with flour if the dough is sticking to the rolling pin.
- Place some flour in a shallow bowl, and fill another shallow small bowl with water.
- Dipping the pastry cutting wheel into the flour at each pass, cut the dough into 2½" squares. Remove misshapen ends. You can re-roll these out to use as much of the dough as possible.
- Loosen each square from your work surface before filling it by dipping your spatula into the flour bowl, then use it loosen a square from the work surface.
- Place a teaspoon of walnut filling across the center of each square.
- Gently fold the dough over the topping on the diagonal. Moisten your fingertip with water from the water bowl, then wet the tip of the folded corner.
- Gently fold over the other side pressing lightly onto the wet dough. The wet tip will seal the edges together and prevent edge separation during cooking.
- Gently shape into a crescent shape (if desired) and place onto a ungreased cookie sheet. Repeat until your dough is used up.
- Bake about 25-30 minutes on a rack in the middle of the oven.
- Repeat this process for the remaining two dough balls, filling each with the prune and apricot fillings, but do the nuts first, since the oven can get hotter later in cooking and can overcook the nuts.
- Cookies are done when the bottoms are light brown and the edges of the top are just starting to brown.
- Shake powdered sugar on top just before serving, if desired.
You will have extra prune & apricot filling left over. These are great for morning toast. Better to have extra filling than to run out during baking. 🙂 Recipe doubles nicely for making up a large batch over the holidays. Cookies will keep at room temperature for up to five days. These cookies freeze well, just cover the cookies in a plastic container and then wrap the outside well with plastic wrap. To thaw, remove plastic wrap and allow to come to room temperature - about two hours.
p.s. I order all my nuts & dried fruits online here – they have great prices and the nuts are always fresh.