I was feeling a bit dejected today–no birds had shown up at the feeder for days, and another winter storm is on it’s way. So I decided to divert myself and bake some cookies. In the back of my mind I seemed to remember a recipe for kolache, which are little Bohemian pastries/cookies made with a cream cheese dough and filled with jam. I found a cream cheese dough on allrecipes.com, and had the bright idea of using dried apricots to fill the cookie, instead of jam. This idea wasn’t quite as bright as it seemed, because I discovered that biting into this cookie caused the apricot to slide off, leaving the cookie behind. So it took some mad scientist experimentation last night to finally come up with a delicious, no sugar kolache. When I say “no sugar,” I am aware that these kolache are powdered with it, but that sprinkle of sugar makes the whole cookie taste sweet.
At any rate, here is the recipe:
3 ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup dried apricots
1/3 cup ground almonds
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Mix the cream cheese and softened butter until completely blended. Add the whole wheat pastry flour and blend well. (You may have to do this with your impeccably clean hands.) It will form a firm, slightly sticky dough. Set this aside, and chop the apricots into small pieces, and measure the ground almonds into a flat dish.
Pinch off piece of the dough (about a two-teaspoon size) and roll into a ball. Roll the dough in the ground almonds and set on the parchment paper.
Then take about one generous teaspoon of chopped apricots and smoosh them together into a ball. (Wish I had a more technical term for this than “smoosh,” but I hope you get the idea.) Press the apricots deeply into the cookie dough, and pat down. Bake for twenty minutes. The cookie bottoms will be golden, and some of the apricots will have browned, Allow to cool, and, using a strainer, sprinkle the cookies with powdered sugar.
Baking notes: Be sure to thoroughly cream the butter and cream cheese. The ground almonds are optional, but they give the kolache a nutty crunch. You could try other dried fruits–I tried some mixed dried berries–but the moist apricots worked well for smooshing. The dough recipe is easy to work with, and if you don’t want to be so “healthy,” you can substitute one cup white flour for the whole wheat pastry flour. You could also use a low-sugar jam instead of the dried fruit. Or, use a little square of dark chocolate in place of the fruit.
My cookie baking session was made all the better when I looked out the window and saw a goldfinch. Not the greatest photo–but when I saw him, I felt my spirits rise. It’s been a tough winter for everyone, especially these little birds, who have endured subzero freezing weather.
Meanwhile, I have taken a few more photos of the flower bouquet. The winter light was harsh, and the flowers have an interesting deer-in-the-headlight look.
I hope your week is a good one. Namaste. Fran