One of my favorite ways to explore a new country is through taste. Whenever I travel I try my best to eat locally, from street vendors, small restaurants, or whenever possible, local people’s kitchens. I’ve eaten fresh feta salads in Greece, baked fish in Morocco, foufou in the Congo, and tamales here in San Francisco. Having not visited any of the modern countries that formerly made up Old World Hungary, I thought I’d do some research into traditional cuisine and see what I could make here in the States. Kolacky will appeal to the most stubborn sweet tooth, and are easy and fun to make with your kids.
When searching for Kolacky cookie recipes I found references to Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary. Perhaps due to their tastiness they seem to be common across much of Central Europe. Also known as Kolachi, Kolacki, Kolaczki, or Kolachky, these sweet fluffy cookies are a breeze to make, and with a little bit of fruit in there you can even pretend they’re healthy. I recommend making and refrigerating the dough in advance, and including kids for the rolling, cookie-cutting, and final construction steps.
3 ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup any flavor fruit jam (I used strawberry jam, and orange marmalade)
1/3 cup powdered sugar for decoration
1. Mix cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add flour slowly until well blended. Shape into a ball and chill in the fridge until firm.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll dough out 1/8 inch thick on a well-floured counter. Cut into squares approximately 2 1/2 x 2 1/2 inches, and place about 1/2 tsp of jam or preserves in the middle. Overlap opposite corners and pinch together. The dough puffs up in the oven, so make sure they’re sealed well so that they don’t open up when cooking (a little water warm water helps create a smooth seal). Place on ungreased cookie sheets.
3. Bake for 12 – 15 minutes in the preheated oven. Cool. Sprinkle lightly with powdered sugar.
Share your results and suggestions below. Have a favorite kolacky recipe? Please let us know!
Did you know that Budapest is home to one of the largest animation studios in Europe? PannoniaFilm was started in 1951 and has been making successful animated TV shows and movies for decades. One of the more famous ones tells the store of Vuk the fox, made in 1981. Similar in storyline to Bambi, Vuk is raised by his uncle Karak after his family is killed by a human hunter. Growing up to be a cunning and clever fox, Vuk eventually seeks a humorous revenge on the hunter and his pack of hunting dogs. Vuk‘s popularity in Hungary eventually spread to the United States, where an English-dubbed version was released under the name The Little Fox in 1987.
If you’re a fan of foxes, check out this great new romper, as part of our Old World Hungary line!
When Laura and Emily brought back the below postcards from their inspiration trip to Old World Hungary, they could barely keep them away from me. I was ready to start designing graphics immediately.
postcards of Károly’s Reich linocuts from Tea’s inspiration trip
I saw on the back of the cards that they were by Károly Reich, a Hungarian artist and children’s book illustrator. I couldn’t wait to see more of his work. Most of his work is in watercolor or gouache, which I found even more charming than his linocut pieces. The more I found, the more obsessed I became. I searched the internet for days trying to find every last piece of his artwork. I was image searching google.hu. I found myself on a random assortment of Japanese book sites that collected his work.
just a few of Károly Reich’s watercolor/gouache children’s book illustrations
I managed to get my hands on two of his books. I got lucky with an Amazon used book search. Matt the Gooseherd a Hungarian story told in English. I love the idea of sharing a Hungarian tale for an English audience, I think its a great way for children to learn about new cultures. Let’s See the Animals teaches children about a variety of woodland creatures, most of which live both in Hungary and North America. AND! It’s illustrated in crayon! Crayon!? A real, respected artist who uses crayon! I was smitten. I was ready to design our entire line as a tribute to this man. While the rest of the team didn’t really go for that idea, there are a few pieces that are inspired by his work (see below).
fun fact: I was having a hard time determining if his name was Károly Reich or Reich Károly. It seemed to be listed differently on different books. I asked my aunt, a librarian, which she thought was correct. Turns out that in Hungarian names are written backwards according to the Western way of writing names. They are apparently the only country that does this.