Many Chicagoans (and Chicagolandians, and Illinoisians) have the day off today to celebrate the life of Polish-born Revolutionary War hero Casimir Pulaski. WBEZ has the history of the holiday here, and we have have the perfect recipe from Holiday Cookies here:

Grandma Hazucha’s Kolacky with Walnut Filling

Julie Hazucha Westbrook received an honorable mention for these cookies in 2012. She said both parts of the recipe can be halved.

Yield: 100 cookies

Prep time:
1 hour, 10 minutes
Chill time: Overnight
Bake time: 12 to 15 minutes per batch

Pastry:

  • 4 sticks (1 pound) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese or neufchatel, softened
  • 4 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 egg yolks
  • Confectioners’ sugar

Walnut filling:

  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 pound walnuts, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla

1. Place butter and cream cheese in a large mixing bowl. Cut butter into pieces; break up cream cheese. Add dry ingredients; work mixture with hands until dough is the size of peas. Add egg yolks; knead with hands again until well-blended. Divide dough into 5 pieces, wrap in wax paper and refrigerate overnight.

2. Heat oven to 350 degrees. To roll out dough, remove 2 portions from the refrigerator. Let soften, about 15 minutes. Open 1 package on a floured board; roll out with floured rolling pin very thin, about 1/8 inch. With pastry wheel, cut 2-inch rows across the dough; then cut diagonally across the rows to make slight diamond shapes, about 2 inches wide. Put pastry diamonds on ungreased cookie sheets.

3. Meanwhile, for walnut filling, slowly warm milk and butter in a medium saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently, until butter melts. Stir in sugar. Remove from heat; stir in walnuts and vanilla.

4. Put rounded 1/2 teaspoon walnut filling on each diamond. Fold over 2 opposite corners; to seal, wet inside of corners with a fingertip dipped in cold water; pinch corners together firmly so they do not open during baking. Bake until lightly browned, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from cookie sheet; cool on a rack. Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar.

5. As the first bundle of dough is finished, take out another bundle to soften while the second bundle is being rolled out. Repeat until all bundles are used.