And, just like that, Christmas is over. It seems like the season was especially short this year (probably because Mack’s winter break didn’t start until December 23rd!), but I’m not feeling the typical post-holiday blues (probably because we really did have a nice season of peace and love and toys).
When I was growing up, Christmas Eve was such an exciting day for my siblings and me. So much anticipation! So much excitement! So much delicious food! We always spent the evening with my dad’s side of the family, which meant a Polish buffet at my Irish grandma’s house. Like so many others, ours is an immigrant story, and thankfully my grandparents share whatever they know about our ancestry.
Like earlier this month, when my grandma sent me the family kolachky recipe. Written by a great great grandmother I never met, I knew it would be an instant classic in my recipe archives. I couldn’t wait to bake a batch of these Bohemian cookies to bring to our family’s Christmas Eve celebration this year (complete with a Polish buffet courtesy of my Dad!).
As the kids and I prepared the recipe, we FaceTimed my grandparents to ask some questions about Betty. She was my great great grandfather’s third wife (the first two passed away), but my grandfather viewed her as his grandmother. My Papa was ten years old when they married in 1946, and he remembers a party at their bungalow where one of the “really old” guests was a veteran of the Spanish-American war of 1898. He said she was a sweet grandma with her hair always up in a bun and a shawl over her lap.
Betty’s parents were Bohemian immigrants, and I imagine they all got a good chuckle in heaven watching me make these cookies with my kids.
Great Great Grandma Betty’s Kolachky
1 lb sweet butter, softened
2 8 oz packages cream cheese, softened
2 egg yolks, beaten
3 1/2 cups flour
6 tablespoons powdered sugar, plus more for dusting
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Assorted jams or pie fillings (we used apricot and raspberry, but my grandfather likes poppy seed and prune)
Mix butter and cream cheese on high for a few minutes. Add eggs and beat until well mixed. In a separate bowl, whisk flour, baking powder and powdered sugar. Add dry ingredients to cream cheese mixture and stir until well combined. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and cool in the fridge for a few hours (we waited overnight).
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Roll dough and cut into rounds with a cookie cutter. Place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Drop a dollop of jam into the center of each cookie. Bake for 10 minutes.
Cool completely and then sprinkle with powdered sugar.
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