Family-Tradition Holiday Recipe

This is an updated version of an article that first appeared in our printed Meal Magic Corporation Quarterly News newsletter (volume 1, number 4) in December 2004. We are sharing it here for all who have asked over the last 17 years for the recipe. Perhaps the Internet ‘bots will index this article for tens of thousands of more people to discover our traditional holiday treat.

I have never liked cottage cheese. The one time I tried it, I gagged. As a stand-alone food item, it is gross. As an ingredient, however, it can produce great results.

Every year, usually between Thanksgiving and Christmas, you would find my mother preparing multiple batches of a particular tasty treat, and I mean lots of batches! She enjoyed sharing this treat with family, neighbors, friends, anyone, and everyone.

Whenever I would introduce people to this wonderful pastry, I would hold back on telling them the main ingredient until after they had tried it because I had heard many a person say they would not have tried them otherwise due to their own disdain for cottage cheese.

Surprisingly, I cannot think of a single person who has disliked Mom’s holiday goody. In fact, I remember most people eating a lot more than just one.

I recently searched the Internet for cottage cheese roll recipes, but everything I found was more complex than Mom’s. Now, I cannot have the world producing inferior holiday treats, so the following recipe is taken from Mom’s handwritten cookbook.

Last year – how time has flown, that was a reference to 2003 – was the first time I attempted to make cottage cheese rolls, and I had problems beginning with the first ingredient: Oleo. Oleo? Can you even buy that today? Did Mom mean margarine or butter?

I called my friend Judy and asked her opinion. Her thought was margarine because I was dealing with a pastry. Her explanation seemed reasonable, but something in the back of my mind left me questioning, so I called my sister-in-law Geri. She said that Mom most definitely used butter, so that is what I used. I later discovered that oleo is short for oleomargarine, but, trust me, you need to use butter if you want better tasting results.

With the oleo mystery solved, I figured that everything else would be a snap. I would discover the next day that I was very wrong.

I prepared the ingredients as instructed, put the mixture in the refrigerator, and waited the prescribed “overnight.” The next evening, I discovered that what Mom made look so easy was anything but easy for an inexperienced baker.

“Roll out on floured board like pie crust (thin).” How difficult could that be? Roll, roll, roll. Well, that doesn’t seem to be right. There’s not enough dough! Maybe I need to use two balls. Roll, roll, roll. That’s not it! Roll, roll, roll. What the… how the…

I placed another call to Geri. “How thin is ‘thin’? Well, how do you get it that thin? Carefully and patiently? I’m in trouble!”

What really was wrong was that I was missing one magical ingredient: holiday spirit. Mom had prepared this recipe many times year after year to please people. She wasn’t just rolling dough; she was spreading love.

With assistance from a friend, I finally succeeded in making the cottage cheese rolls. Now it is your turn to try.

Mom’s Cottage Cheese Rolls

The Dough
1 lb. Butter
4 cups All-purpose Flour
1 lb. Large-Curd Cottage Cheese

The Filling
Melted Butter
Brown Sugar
Crushed Walnut Meats

The Icing
3 cups Powdered Sugar
1/2 cup Butter
1-1/2 tsp. Evaporated Milk
2 tbsp. Vanilla Extract

From the hand-written recipes of Virginia Swarts

Start with butter that has softened at room temperature. Combine the butter with the flour, and then add the cottage cheese. Keep mixing until the dough looks like pie crust.

As a long-time perfectionist, imprecise directions and relative descriptions drive me a little crazy. As of this writing in 2021, I have never made a pie crust, so I have nothing with which to compare my dough. Mix it thoroughly. I use a Kitchenaid stand mixer with a dough hook and let the dough mix until it wraps around the hook in one giant mass.

Put the dough in a covered bowl and minimally refrigerate overnight. After chilling, separate the dough into eight equal-sized balls. You can save balls in the refrigerator so you do not have to bake a huge batch at once.

Flatten a ball by hand on a clean, floured surface. Then, roll outward until you have a very thin, circular layer that is about 10 inches wide when measured across the center.

Spread melted butter on the dough and the sprinkle with brown sugar and walnuts. Use a rolling pin to press the walnuts into the dough.

Cut the dough into wedges that are 1 to 1.5 inches wide at the outer edge. If the rolled dough is 10 inches across the center, you can make approximately 24 pieces if the outer cuts are spaced 1.25 inches. Roll each wedge from the wide edge to the center. Place the rolled wedges onto a greased, dark cookie sheet, and then bake them at 375° Fahrenheit until golden brown.

The original recipe lists the oven temperature as “375° or 400°”, but we settled on 375°. No baking time was listed. Instead, the recipe reads, “until good and brown”, so watch closely.

After baking, allow the pieces to cool; but, while they are still warm, spread a powdered sugar icing on each one. Then, serve some warm, and save some for later.

The hand-written recipe says to coat with “powered sugar icing”, but no instructions for preparing the icing are provided. For years, I have made this icing for cakes, not by measuring, but, instead, simply mixing until the right consistency and taste has been achieved. However, for the sake of thoroughness, I have added measurements for your convenience.

Hopefully, Mom’s Cottage Cheese Rolls will become a family tradition for you. Merry Christmas!