RECIPE: Italian Kolachi Cookies

Italian Kolachi cookies. Electronic image by Ron Flaviano for Homeplate and Metro Monthly.

By TIFFANY VITUCCI for HOMEPLATE HOMESTYLE

INGREDIENTS

DOUGH:

1 cup sugar

½ cup shortening

½ cup butter at room temperature

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup milk

4 ½ cups all-purpose flour

4 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

FILLING:

7 cups walnuts, coarsely ground (in a food processor)

4 ounces (1 stick) butter, melted

1 ½ cups sugar

1 ½ teaspoon cinnamon (optional)

4 egg whites, lightly beaten

ICING:

2 cups powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

¼ teaspoon cinnamon (optional)

4 tablespoons milk, half-half, or heavy cream

PREPARATION

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.  In a large bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the sugar, butter, and shortening.  Add the egg and vanilla and combine well.  Add in the remaining ingredients, alternating between the flour mixture and the milk, starting and ending with the flour mixture; making sure the all the ingredients are well incorporated.  The dough will be soft.  On a lightly floured surface, divide dough into four even pieces, wrap each in plastic wrap, and refrigerate a minimum of 1 hour to overnight.

For the filling, either run the nuts through a food processor until finely chopped (coarse ground) or chop by hand.  The food processor works really well for this. Just be sure not to over-process or you’ll get nut-butter.  Combine the nuts in a large bowl with the sugar, cinnamon and melted butter. Mix well, making sure there are no large clumps in the mixture. Add the egg whites and again, mix well.

On a well-floured surface, roll out a piece of the dough as you would a piecrust into an approx. 12”-14” circle.  Spread an even layer of the nut mixture onto the dough being careful not to rip the dough. Using a pastry or pizza cutter, cut (as you would a pizza) dough into about 12-14 pieces (They will be triangles.).  Starting at the wide end of each triangle, roll each piece up toward the center (pointed) end.  Place on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and continue with the rest of the pieces.

An alternate way of rolling these cookies is to roll them jellyroll style.  Roll out one piece of the dough into a 6×18” rectangle.  Spread an even layer of the nut filling onto the dough, leaving a small border around the perimeter of the dough.  Roll up as you would a jellyroll, with the short ends to the left and right of you, and seal the ends.  Cut the roll into 1-inch pieces and place on cookie sheet.

BAKING PHASE

Preheat oven to 350.

Either style you choose, bake for 15-20 minutes or until the tops are just slightly browned. Cool completely on racks and repeat with remainder of dough and filling.

Once cookies are cooled, prepare the icing by mixing together the powdered sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and enough milk (cream) to achieve desired consistency.  Icing should be thick enough to not be runny and easy to spread.  Ice the tops of the cookies and let set completely before storing in airtight containers.

 Yields approximately 4 dozen cookies.

Tiffany and AnneLisa Vitucci with the Italian Kolachi cookie. Electronic image by Ron Flaviano for Homeplate and Metro Monthly.

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