Czech Kolacky are flaky, golden brown rounds of cream cheese pastry filled with a sweetened poppy seed filling. They are a perfect addition to your Christmas cookie platter!
These delicate cream cheese pastry rounds are filled with just-sweet-enough poppy seed filling. A dusting of powdered sugar is the finishing touch.
These jam filled cookies are a perfect addition to your Christmas cookie platter.
When my Czech father-in-law, who we call Deda (Czech for Grandpa), passed away several years ago it left a hole in the family—in our hearts, and also in our tummies.
I believe the first words Deda said to me when we met were, “I hear you like to cook.”
He quickly put me to work helping him cook a holiday feast for the family. (Don’t worry, I was thrilled! Nothing I love more than cooking alongside a master.)
Deda loved to cook meaty dishes, potato pancakes, and rich, cold cucumber soup. He was a big fan of anything meaty, salty, or fatty.
Pickles, cheese, anchovies, and salami star in many of Deda’s famous savory dishes.
His preferred cooking fat was lard. And if it wasn’t lard, it had to be good, old fashioned butter.
Deda loved baking sweets, too. One of my favorite cookie recipes that always came out at Christmas was this recipe for kolacky.
I’m so glad he taught me to make these lovely little pastries. It’s almost like having a little piece of him hear with us around the holidays.
How do you pronounce kolacky?
It’s a funny looking word in English! I say it like “co-LOTCH-key.”
What are Czech kolacky?
The kolacky my Czech father-in-law taught me to make use a cream cheese-based pastry that is delicate and flaky. And they are cut into rounds using a simple round cookie or biscuit cutter.
A dimple in the center holds a glistening black poppy seed filling. You can use any number of fruit fillings, but my favorite has always been the poppyseed. I use Solo poppy seed filling.
Solo makes fruit fillings as well, or you can use fruit jam—raspberry, strawberry, apricot, or any flavor you like.
These cream cheese kolacky have a Solo poppy seed filling, just like the ones my father in law taught me to make. They remind me of the rugelach popular with the Jewish side of my family.
Rugelach also uses a cream cheese-based pastry and often a poppy seed filling, but the dough is rolled around the filling.
Variations: Kolacky, kolache, kolace, kolaczky, kolachky, and more!
If you think you’ve had these before, but the name or presentation was slightly different, you’re not wrong!
There are many variations on this type of pastry and they come from all over Eastern Europe.
They come in different shapes and sizes and various textures, and they even even vary in the spelling of their names.
Kolacky, kolache, kolace, kolaczky, and kolachky are all common spellings.
Some kolachky recipes use ice cream in place of cream cheese to make the rich, flaky pastry dough.
Other variations are more bread-like, made with a yeast dough. These are popular in the Midwest, where they contain various fruit fillings.
And sometimes they are denser and more cookie-like, with the dough folded up around the filling.
And in Texas, where they call them kolache, they contain either sweet fruit fillings or savory meat-and-cheese fillings. What?!
Of course, because I learned this kolacky recipe from a Czech baker, I’m certain the Czech way is the right way!
What ingredients do you need?
Except for the poppy seed filling, the ingredients of my kolacky recipe are pantry staples. You can find both Solo poppy seed filling and prune butter in European groceries or online. Or you can substitute any fruit jam you like.
How do you make them?
I find this dough to me more or less foolproof. The cream cheese ensures that it is wonderfully tender and bakes up to a beautiful flaky, golden brown.
- Cream the butter, cream cheese, and milk or cream together.
- Add the egg yolks, sugar, and vanilla extract.
- Gradually add the flour and baking powder until it comes together in a tacky dough.
- Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
- Roll the dough out to ¼-inch thickness and cut with a 2-inch round cookie cutter or biscuit cutter. Transfer the rounds to a baking sheet.
- Mix the poppy seed filling with a bit of prune butter, if using, and vanilla extract.
- Make a dimple in the center of each dough round and spoon about a teaspoon of the filling mixture into the center. I use the wooden handle of an unidentified tool in my cooking utensil drawer, but you can just use your thumb!
- Bake until puffed and golden brown. Let cool on a wire rack.
More Dessert recipes you’ll love
I love serving these Kolacky on a cookie platter with my Black Sesame Cookies, Toffee Cookie Bars, Honey Cookies, Hamentashen, Lemon Coconut Macaroons, and other sweets like this Hungarian Bejgli or Honey Cake. These melting moments and Danish butter cookies are other great cookie platter additions!
Czech Kolacky with Poppy Seed Filling
For the dough
- 1 cup 2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 8 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon milk or cream
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
For the filling
- 1/2 cup Solo poppy seed filling or fruit jam
- 1 1/2 tablespoons prune butter optional
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- In a large mixing bowl, cream together the cream cheese, butter, and milk until the mixture is smooth, light, and fluffy, about 4 minutes with an electric mixer on medium-high speed.
- Add the egg yolks, sugar, and 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract and beat to incorporate well.
- Combine the flour and baking powder in a medium bowl (my father-in-law insisted on sifting them together, but I will admit that I am pretty lazy and I never sift!)
- Add the flour to the creamed mixture in 2 or 3 batches, beating to incorporate after each addition.
- Once the dough comes together in a tacky blob, turn it out onto a sheet of plastic wrap. Wrap the ball of dough up in the plastic and chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour (you can leave it in the fridge for up to 3 days).
- Preheat the oven to 400ºF.
- On a lightly floured board, roll the dough out to 1/4-inch thickness.
- Using a 2-inch round pastry or cookie cutter, cut the dough into rounds. Arrange the rounds about 2 inches apart on a large baking sheet (you’ll likely need to bake 2 batches).
- Using your thumb or another implement, press a dimple into the middle of each round.
- In a small bowl, mix together the poppy seed filling, prune butter if using, and the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract.
- Spoon about 1 teaspoon of filling into the center of each dough round, filling the dimple you made.
- Bake for about 12 minutes, until the pastries puff up and turn golden brown. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.