Ma Mesich's Kolacki (ethnic)
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The walnut filling is the favorite filling of my relatives, expecially my brother-in-law Bill. The story goes that Bill as a youngster would invite friends over to the Chicago three-flat and say, "Help youself to the Kolaki, but touch the walnut and I break your arm."
To make the walnut filling I use my mother-in-law's ancient grinder, which was given to her over 60 years ago by another relative. The cookies freeze very well. My mother-in-law and I made 500 for my daughter's wedding and they were frozen for two months. We intend to make 500 more for my second daughter's wedding, whenever that may be.
1 pound butter
4 cups flour
8 ounces sour cream
2 packages granular dry yeast
3-4 tablespoons warm milk
1 tablespoon sugar
Canned fillings such as raspberry, strawberry, apricot, prune, poppyseed, almond.
3/4 to 1 pound ground walnut meats
Four egg whites
Sugar to taste
Mix butter and flour until crumbly. Mix in remaining ingredients gradually. It will form a sticky dough. Flour up your hands and knead it a bit, adding flour to keep it from getting too sticky. When it is no longer too sticky, you have enough flour in it. Divide it into four balls. Wrap balls separately in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about an hour. You can also freeze the dough at this point, to be made up into cookies at a later time. I like to do this in steps, making the dough one day, and on another day, putting the cookies together.
While dough is cooling, make the filling. Canned fillings such as raspberry, strawberry, apricot, prune, poppyseed and almond can be used. I prefer Solo brand in a can but there is also Bohemian Kitchen brand in a jar. I also like to make my own walnut filling. Grind walnut meats. Add four egg whites and sugar. It should be rather think but not too gloppy, so that it will stick on a spoon rather like peanut butter. Add more ground walnuts or more egg white to achieve this if needed.
To assemble kolacki: Take one ball of dough at a time out of the refrigerator. This is important because it warms up quickly and gets hard to manage. Throw a cup of flour on work surface. (I use my countertop.) Flour the rolling pin and begin to roll out a rectangle. Flip the dough numerous times as you do this, adding flour each time to keep it from sticking. Roll out very thin. Use a sharp knife (or a ravioli roller or pizza cutter) and cut 2-inch squares. Quickly using a soup spoon and a table knife, put a quantity of filling into the spoon and scrape a bit into the middle of each square. Or, fill a plastic bag with the filling, cut a small bit off the corner and squeeze a bit of the filling onto the dough. If your dough becomes too sticky as you use it, squeeze it back together and refrigerate again. Using floured hands, pinch the dough together, or roll it, or fold it on the diagonal. Place on a sprayed cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes. They will puff up, and brown only the slightest bit, and that means they are done. Remove and shake or place onto a tea towel to cool. When cool, shake a sieve of powdered sugar over the cookies.