It just wouldn’t be Christmas without these dainty, bright orange apricot-filled cookies brightening up the table. The melt-in-your-mouth cream cheese pastry dough and light fresh, apricot filling are too good not to share this holiday season.
I remember my grandmother saying these cookies were an Italian tradition, yet, much like the handful of Italian slang words she spoke, I’m not sure how much validity there is to that claim. I’ve found links to similar Hungarian and Polish recipes, and even a few from Finland. Regardless of their origins, this cookie has become a Christmas classic. You’ll often see similar cookies on mixed catered cookie trays in a basic roll shape —but those cookies don’t even compare to the perfection of these little wonders. Plus, the pinwheel shape adds some extra fun for the season.
My aunt (who has literally made our family thousands of these little time consuming cookies in her lifetime) recommends making the apricot filling ahead of time so you’re not waiting on it to cool. And I agree. You’re definitely going to need it to cool completely, or it will become a runny mess.
When you go to roll out the dough, sprinkle the surface with your flour, sugar mixture. It might not be a common practice to add sugar, but the crystals on the bottom caramelize and create a slight crunch to your bite. It’s divine.
I haven’t tried yet, but I think cherry filling would work well in this recipe as well. Plus, the color would be just right for Christmas, if you prefer more traditional-looking cookie platters.
Makes about 6 dozen cookies: Time; about 3-4 hours (including wait time)
- 1/2 pound dried apricots
- 1-2 cups water
- 8-ounces cream cheese
- 2 sticks butter, softened
- 2 cups of flour
- Pinch of salt
- 1/2 cup sugar + 1/2 cup flour, combined
- Optional: 1/2 cup powdered sugar (for sifting on top of finished cookies)
- In a medium sauce pan, on medium heat, add dried apricots. Fill pan with water until apricots are just covered. Boil down until apricots soak up water and soften, forming a jam-like consistency.
- Chill filling.
- Using your hands, mix butter and cream cheese together until nearly combined. Add 1 cup of flour and mix well. Then add second cup of flour along with a pinch of salt, and mix until dough forms.
- Separate dough into four separate balls, and chill in a covered bowl for about 1 hour.
- Preheat oven to 350ºF.
- Sprinkle flour, sugar mixture on surface to prevent sticking. Roll out one dough ball to about 1/8-inch thick. Cut out 2×2-inch squares.
- Dot the center of each square with apricot filling (about 1-2 tbsp).
- Cut each corner of the square at an angle, about 1/2-inch in length. Carefully draw every other point toward the center. Pinch the ends to help cookie stay closed.
- Alternately: Pinwheels do take more time. If you’re in a hurry, consider going with the roll. Just grab two opposing corners and fold to secure.
- Bake one cookie sheet at a time on middle rack at 350ºF for 15 minutes.
- Transfer to cooling rack.
- Dust with powdered sugar. Serve room temperature or chilled.
Also see, Chocolate Raspberry Thumbprints to love.
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