Belated Christmas Cookie Post
Hello folks! So, I know that this post is really really late, and I considered just skipping it all together, but my baking experience over the holidays was just so wonderful that I couldn't bear to leave it out. Aside from all of my good intentions I didn't actually do very much baking at all during December. I was just way too busy. But, I finally managed to churn out some cookies right around Christmas when I wanted to contribute something to our boxing day gathering. As I mentioned before Owen and I spent boxing day with his aunt and uncle and as they are always such wonderful hosts I wanted to give something back.
Now, everyone has their own Christmas cookie traditions, many of which involve gingerbread, cookie cutters and/or a heavy emphasis on decoration. In my family, Christmas has always meant the return of one, particular cookie which involves none of these things - kiefli. Kiefli (I've also seen it spelled kiffle, kifli, etc. etc.) is an Eastern European cookie that is rolled into a crescent shape and filled with a walnut and brown sugar mixture. It isn't too difficult to make, but rolling the dough to the perfect thickness can be a bit tricky and generally requires some practice - at least it did in my case.
For anyone who doesn't know, my mother's side of the family is of Polish descent. The recipe for kiefli has been passed down through the generations and has been a staple at many a family gathering for as long as I can remember. Although I've made kiefli with my mother before I've never attempted it on my own. So, I knew that this was going to be a bit of an experiment. You can decide for yourself how successful I was. But first, here's the recipe:
8 oz cream cheese (room temperature) 1/2 lb chopped walnuts
2 sticks of butter (room temperature) 1/2 lb brown sugar
2 cups plain flour 1 egg white
1) Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees farenheit.
2) Cream together cream cheese and butter. Add two cups of flour. Mix together and form into two balls. Wrap balls in waxed paper and refrigerate over night or until firm.
3) To make filling mix together chopped walnuts, brown sugar and egg white thoroughly. Egg white will be just enough to dampen mixture and help it to lightly stick together.
4) To make cookies bring dough to room temperature (about 1 hour). Roll dough out onto floured surface. Dough should very thin - so that you can easily see the dark filling through it, but just thick enough so that it doesn't tear.
5) Cut dough into 1 1/2 to 2 inch squares. Place considerable amount of filling near center and roll from corner to corner, making sure to tightly tuck corner under filling before rolling. Dough should be just enough to cover filling without popping open during cooking.
6) Place cookies on un-greased cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Dough should only brown on the bottom.
7) Before serving liberally sprinkle with powdered sugar.
Makes 60-100 cookies.
Tip #1: I found that mixing both the dough and filling with my hands was the easiest way to ensure that all of the ingredients were combined and to the right consistency.
Tip #2: Cookies can be frozen without powdered sugar. Dough and filling will keep in refrigerator for one week.
My amaaaazing new mixer (a Christmas gift from my grandparents) and the easiest mixing I've done all year thanks to the folks at Kenwood.
Dough all wrapped up and ready to refrigerate.
Kiefli rolled and ready to be baked on my new baking sheets! I got a lot of baking supplies for Christmas :)
The final product dusted with powdered sugar. You can probably tell from the variety of shapes that it took me a while to get my thickness and rolling technique down. Too much dough leads to a puffy pastry around the the filling, which tasted nice right out of the oven but had a tacky texture when cooled.
Despite my lack of experience the cookies turned out rather nicely. They smelled and tasted exactly as I remembered them from childhood. Not to mention they were a hit on boxing day. They were eaten as a pre-dinner snack, for dessert and even at breakfast the next day. If that doesn't prove that a cookie recipe is worth trying, I don't know what does.