These Italian Peach Cookies or Pastry are very popular among Slavic community here in the US. Peach cookies are baked for special occasions like Weddings, Christmas or New Year. They do take little more effort but definitely worth it. I am not sure why the cookie called “Peach Cookie”; I am assuming when the cookie gets assembled and dipped in the color it does look like a peach. The fillings vary from family to family. My version of the Dulche de Leche filling with the touch of rum and cocoa powder is insanely delicious!
4½ sticks butter, room temperature
1½ cups sugar
4 eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
6 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened
1 can dulce de leche- cooked condensed milk
1 Tablespoon rum
3/4 cup cookie crumbs
3/4 cup walnuts- crushed
1 cup milk
20 drops yellow food coloring
60 drops red food coloring
1 cup milk
45 drops yellow food coloring
15 drops red
2 cups sugar- for topping
greens for garnishing
Line couple of baking trays with parchment paper and set-aside.
In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment beat sugar and butter on medium speed for about 2 to 3 minutes or until fluffy.
Gradually add eggs and vanilla extract; continue to beat on medium speed for another 2-3 minutes.
In a different bowl combine flour and baking powder and mix until mixed well.
Reduce mixer speed to low and gradually add the flour mixture; beat to just combine.
Preheat oven to 350° F (180° C).
Spoon 1 Tablespoon of cookie dough; roll into balls and place on cookie sheet about 1-2 inches apart. Repeat with remaining dough ensuring balls are all the same size.
Bake on middle rack just until starting to turn color (you do not want them to turn golden), 11-12 minutes.
Remove baking sheet from the oven and immediately remove cookies from baking sheet and transfer to wire rack. (to stop the baking)
While cookies still warm begin carving out. Using a sharp paring knife, starting in center of cookie, carve small holes (about the size of a quarter, making sure you do not carve the holes too deep).
Place hollowed out crumbs into a bowl for use in your Dulche de Leche filling. Set cookies aside and cool completely prior to filling.
Dulche de Leche filling:
In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment beat cream cheese and Dulche de Leche (cooked condensed milk) on medium speed for about 3 to 4 minutes or until mixed well.
Add rum and cocoa powder, mix just until combined.
Using food processor or with your hands crumble saved cookie crumbs to fine crumbs.
Add 1 ½ cups crumbs into filling and mix well.
Assemble the cookies:
Pour 1 cup of milk into a small (deep bowl); add the food colorings to make Yellow/Orange color. Pour 1 cup milk into another small (deep) bowl; add the food colorings to make Dark Orange/Red color. Add enough food coloring to achieve a bright yellow and a bright red colors. Place sugar into third small (deep bowl).
Transfer the filling to a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip. Pipe a small dollop of the filling into each hollowed cookie. Join two halves to form “Peach” shape cookie. Run your clean finger around filling to remove any excess when sandwiched together.
Repeat until all cookies are filled and formed.
Dip half of joined cookie in yellow/orange food coloring. Dip the other half of cookie in dark orange/red food coloring making sure it meets and covers the yellow half just a tad. Make sure to dab off any excess coloring; roll cookie in sugar. Place cookie onto baking sheet lined with foil.
Decorate with a fresh sprig of mint and serve with your favorite tea.