Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies [Kifli]

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If you had asked little me what borscht, pampushky or patychky were, I wouldn’t have known.

My Ukrainian culinary heritage was  largely lost on me growing up because my mother, who did all of the cooking, isn’t Ukrainian.

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But over time I have been accumulating the recipes and know-how to carry on our traditional cooking.

I vividly remember the letter in the mail with Baba’s borscht recipe written out in Auntie Rosie’s handwriting. It was such a special surprise I almost cried.

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Auntie Rosie is very much the keeper of the culture, especially in the kitchen. Without her I’m sure many of our cherished family traditions would have faded away.

This year I’m happy to make Auntie Rosie’s kifli recipe for the first time.

These are little brioche-like roll-ups brimming with sweet nuts.

Kifli
*recipe from Rose Kwiecinski, home cook

For the filling:

5 cups finely ground toasted walnuts
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 tbsp vanilla
1 tsp lemon juice

Gently heat milk and sugar to dissolve the sugar. Add vanilla, walnuts and lemon juice. Combine well to form a paste. Set aside to cool.

For the dough and assembly:

6 cups flour
1 tsp fine salt
1 cup cold butter
1/2 cup warm milk
3 eggs
275 ml sour cream
1/2 ounce active dry yeast
3/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1 cup flour and 1 cup sugar, mixed, for rolling
milk, for brushing

Dissolve yeast in warm milk. Allow yeast to flower for about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix flour, salt and butter with pastry cutter or fork until teh mixture resembles fine crumbs. Add eggs and mix well. Add sour cream, powdered sugar and yeast mixture. Knead until smooth, adding more flour if sticky. Divide dough into four equal parts and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate until chilled enough to be rolled out, 30 minutes to an hour.

Preheat oven to 350F.

Sprinkle your work surface with the sugar and flour mixture.

Roll dough into a 1/8-inch-thick circle. Cut the circle like a pie into wedges that measure 1 1/2 inches on the outer edge.

Pat 3/4-1 tsp of filling on the wide end of a dough wedge. Roll the dough tightly from the wide end toward the point of the wedge.

Place on parchment-lined baking sheet with the point facing down. Brush with a bit of milk to encourage browning.

Bake for 15 minutes, or until tinged golden. Remove to a resting rack to cool completely. When ready to serve, sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Makes 5 dozen.

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