Medina County resident Bev Shaffer has been a leader in the Akron culinary scene for years. She is corporate chef for Vitamix in North Olmsted and has written numerous cookbooks. Her latest is Chocolate Desserts To Die For!

These are the cookies of my childhood; every year during Easter or Christmas or for special celebrations, huge quantities of these cookies would be made and filled with lekvar (prune butter), nut filling, or poppy seed filling. If I wanted apricot filling (which I dearly loved), I'd have to go to a friend's home.

KIFLI

 1 lb. unsalted butter, cut into pieces, at room temperature

 1 lb. cream cheese, cut into pieces, at room temperature

 1 tbsp. baking powder

 6 large egg yolks, reserving egg whites for brushing cookies

 5 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour

 Confectioners' sugar for dusting cookies

Using an electric mixer, in a large bowl, cream together the butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy. Scrape down sides and bottom of bowl.

Mix the baking powder into egg yolks, whisking to blend. Add to the butter mixture, blending well. Add the flour gradually until all is incorporated and dough comes away from bowl.

Divide dough in eighths and shape each into a disc. Wrap in plastic wrap; flatten to ½-inch. Chill dough overnight.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Roll dough on lightly floured board, turning and flipping as you roll, until very thin, a minimum of 1/16 inch. Cut 2-inch squares (or any desired shape). Fill with ½ teaspoon to ¾ teaspoon of desired filling (recipes follow) and fold 2 of the opposite corners together. Pinch lightly to seal.

Brush with reserved egg whites.

Bake until a light golden brown, about 20 minutes. Cool 1 minute, then remove from cookie sheets to wire racks to cool completely.

Sprinkle cookies with confectioners' sugar when cool.

Makes about 12 dozen (recipe can easily be halved).

LEKVAR (PRUNE BUTTER)

1¾ lbs. pitted prunes

1½ cups fresh orange juice, divided

1/3 cup granulated sugar

In a medium saucepan, combine the prunes with 1 cup of the orange juice and the sugar. Cover and cook over medium heat until the prunes are very tender and have absorbed the liquid, about 25 to 35 minutes. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes.

Purée the mixture in a food processor or food mill until as smooth as possible. Stir in the remaining ½ cup orange juice and a little more sugar to taste, if desired. Cover and refrigerate until needed. Tightly covered, the lekvar will keep in the refrigerator for up to 1 month and can be frozen for up to 3 months.

Makes enough to fill 1 recipe of Hungarian Cream Cheese Kifli.

NUT FILLING

 1 lb. walnuts, toasted

 ½ cup granulated sugar

 1 tbsp. fresh lemon zest, finely grated

 3 large egg whites

In a food processor, pulse the walnuts in batches until finely ground. Remove and place in a large mixing bowl with the sugar and zest.

Using an electric mixer, in a medium bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff but still moist. Fold beaten egg whites into the nut mixture. Use immediately. Makes enough to fill a half recipe of Hungarian Cream Cheese Kifli.

APRICOT FILLING

3 1/3 cups snipped dried apricots

1 1/3 cups water

1 tbsp. fresh orange zest, finely grated

1½ cups fresh orange juice

½ tsp. ground cinnamon

1½ cups superfine sugar or 1¼ cups

Granulated sugar

In a medium saucepan, combine the apricots, water, zest, juice, and cinnamon. Bring to a boil.

Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 20 to 25 minutes or until apricots are very tender. Stir in sugar until well mixed. Cover and simmer for 10 additional minutes.

Mash with a potato masher until mostly smooth with a few apricot pieces remaining. Cover and chill at least 2 hours (up to overnight) before using. Makes enough to fill a half recipe of Hungarian Cream Cheese Kifli.