Gluten Free Kieflies

December 30, 2013
1 Ratings
  • Makes 48
Author Notes

The kiefle (pronounced "key-flee) is the Christmas cookie of choice for anyone hailing from South Bend, IN. It's a delightfully flaky, crescent-shaped pastry cookie with walnut filling. I've been told it's a Polish cookie. The Internet tells me it's Hungarian. Yet this particular cookie and filling only seems to have ever appeared in The South Bend Tribune sometime in the year 1940.

Growing up, both my grandmothers and mother each made triple batches which was an all day, sun up to sun down affair. My brother and I knew not to bother mom on "kiefle day" and we'd get to order a pizza for dinner, a very rare event, because she wouldn't have time to make a supper.

My dad is notorious for stashing the cookies away in his hidden cabinet spot and then trying to sell them to fellow family members once the kieflies have all been consumed for the year.

They're great cookies all on their own, the sentiment is a bonus. I've changed the flours to make it a gluten free cookie so that I can keep the tradition going with my own family. The rest of the recipe remains the same as was handed down to me and what I will hand down to my daughter when she is grown.
Rachel from Recreating Happiness

What You'll Need
  • Cookie dough
  • 1.5 cups finely ground almond flour
  • 1.5 cups tapioca flour
  • 1 cup rice flour (plus more for rolling out)
  • 1.5 teaspoons xanthan gum
  • 1 pound butter
  • 6 large egg yolks (reserve whites for filling)
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • Filling
  • 6 large egg whites
  • 24 ounces walnut halves
  • 1 pound powdered sugar plus more for dusting
  1. The day before, in a large bowl, combine almond flour, tapioca flour, white rice flour, and xanthan gum. Using a pastry blender or 2 knives criss-crossed work the butter in until it's the size of peas. (if you're lucky enough to have a food processor it'd probably be a lot easier/faster here). In small bowl whisk together egg yolks and sour cream until smooth. Pour into flour/butter mixture and mix until smooth. Pinch off dough and roll into balls about the size of a golf ball. Cover and refrigerate dough for 24 hours.
  2. Prepare filling (day of or day before, either is ok, just be sure to refrigerate it when not in use): Whip egg whites to soft peaks. Coarsely grind walnuts in food processor or blender. Fold walnuts and powdered sugar into the egg whites.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cover cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  4. On rice floured wax paper roll out dough balls into a 1/4-inch thick circle. Add 1-2 teaspoons filling off-center, then roll jelly roll style. Pinch the ends closed and curve cookie into a crescent shape. TIP: I use my tortilla press instead of a rolling pin to roll them out. Always keep the dough cold! It's very easy to work with when chilled but once it starts to warm up it gets sticky. I take out only 5-6 dough balls at a time while keeping the others in the fridge until I'm ready for them.
  5. Bake 18-22 minutes until light golden brown. Remove immediately to a wire rack. Cool completely then dust with powdered sugar.
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7 Reviews

lmpuder December 9, 2019
My grandmother brought this recipe with her when she came from Hungary and they were always our favorites. My grandmother landed in Chicago so this is not just in Indiana. This is my son's favorite treat and he asked for it every Christmas and I did not find them hard to make. He has been diagnosed with Celiac's and I want to surprise him this Christmas. My recipe is essentially the same except it has a cake of yeast in it. Do you think adding the yeast in the GF version would be a good idea? Also could I just use 1:1 GF flour mixture or is this flour mix special and works better? Thanks for your help. Also I roll out each dough ball into a circle and use a pastry cutter to cut them into triangles, add filling and roll them up that way and my recipe make 64 horns.
Teri H. December 9, 2018
I was raised on these as I too am from South Bend. However, I followed the recipe to a tee and the pastry ended up in the trash. It stuck to the wax paper with rice flour, stuck to the roller with rice flour, it fell apart when trying to roll it, it was a mess. I made sure to refrigerate it for 24 hours and it turned out to be a horrible first experience. Sorry for the negative review but I'm only telling the truth.
Amanda N. September 28, 2017
I just made these as a gift for a dear GF Hungarian friend. They really are a lot of work. All the comments you gave were very helpful. When I tasted one, it was the best tasting cookie I have ever made...even if the were gluten free.

shermy April 19, 2014
I am from South Bend and my mother and aunts had kiefle day too! I have never made them myself due to the memory of how much work they are! but thanks for the gf version, now that I am eating gf I might try them next Christmas!
Bori V. January 17, 2014
Hi, i am hungarian, and kifli is a hungarian word, it is a hungarian recipe.It means something like a croissant, halfmoon-shaped cookie or pastry. it comes from german: Kipferl...please send the original recipe, not the gluten-free..thanks!! Bori
Rebecca B. May 24, 2016
I, too, am originally from South Bend, IN, and am of Hungarian descent. These are a Hungarian pastry. My family makes them for just about every big event that comes along. They are not hard to make, just takes a little time if you are making them by yourself. Many hands makes the work short and much more enjoyable. A great tradition to pass down to your children and grandchildren!
Rebecca B. May 24, 2016
PS - thanks for the gluten-free version. My niece has celiac disease and has requested gluten-free kiflis for her graduation :)