I'm mostly mutt, but I'm a quarter Polish with a bit of Scandinavia floating around in there, too, and I've been making these for as long as I can remember making things. They were a Johnson family Christmas staple growing up. I've only ever made "Simplified Kolacky." Maybe someday I'll be industrious enough to make a more traditional dough, but until then, "simplified" it is! (I like things simple. I really do.)
The dough is mildly sweet with a cream cheese base and is light and flaky when cooked. It's the perfect balance for the rich nut filling. Traditionally, these can also be filled with apricot preserves or jam, but I always make the lemony walnut filling because...yum.
*Note: I always make one and a half times the filling amount listed below because it's my favorite, and I don't want to run out. When there's extra, I bake it in a small, greased, ovenproof container until cooked through and then eat it late at night while the house sleeps and I'm frosting the gingerbread children. (Now you know one of my dirty secrets!)
Simplified Kolacky (source: my mother's recipe box)
1/2 lb. (1 cup) cream cheese, softened
1/2 lb. (1 cup) butter, softened
2 cups flour
Cream butter and cream cheese together and add 2 cups flour. Mix until flour is incorporated.
Divide dough into 3 balls and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Meanwhile, prepare filling.
Mix 2 cups very finely chopped walnuts (or other nut, if you prefer),
1/2 cup brown sugar (packed),
1/4 cup softened butter,
1/4 cup milk,
1/2 tsp. vanilla,
1/2 tsp. lemon extract,
and one beaten egg.
*Remember, I always make one and a half times this amount. Munch. Munch.
Sprinkle flat surface liberally with equal amounts of flour and confectioner's sugar and roll the dough out thinly. Cut into small squares and spread with filling (not near edges), and then roll the dough squares up from corner to corner. Place seam side down on ungreased cookie sheets and bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 17 minutes or until puffy and lightly golden.