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Polish Chrusciki (pronunciation: hrrooss-CHEE-kee), or “angel wings“, are a sweet crisp pastry made out of dough that has been shaped into thin twisted ribbons or “bow-tie” shape, deep-fried (traditionally in lard) and sprinkled with powdered sugar. They are also known by the names faworki and chrusty. In Polish, chrusciki is derived from the word “chrust” which means “dry branches broken off a tree or brushwood”.
There is no leavening agent in this recipe; it relies on air trapped in the dough for their unique, bubbly, flaky texture. Frying causes the air to explode inside the pastry and puff it up as it fries. Technically, the alcohol in the recipe enhances the puffing effect somewhat, but it is definitely an addition that many of us remembering our grandmothers adding!
In The Beginning
The cookies, which originated in Ancient Roman cuisine, are found in several cuisines throughout Europe. These delicate crispy little cookies are extremely popular during the Lenten season, but here in the Coal Region, we adore them as a favorite on our Christmas cookie trays.
Many of us remember our grandmothers or mothers making these addicting pastries as we sat perched at the kitchen table eating them as fast as they were fried and dusted with powdered sugar.
How To Store Leftovers (if there is such a thing…)
Someone once asked me if chrusciki stored well and I was completely stumped…there were never any left TO store in my house. They were consumed with gusto until the empty plate held only remnants of powdered sugar outlining where the cookies had been only a short time before.
The answer is “yes”, they can be stored even though they are at their best consumed the samen day they are fried. To store, lay flat on baking sheets or a large platter separating layers with waxed paper and cover them loosely with aluminum foil, not plastic. If desired, re-crisp by placing on a baking sheet in a 325 degree F oven for about 5 minutes. Dust again with powdered sugar just before serving.
Tips For Success
- It is key to roll your dough out paper thin. If you have a pasta maker this would be a perfect use it for. Set the pasta maker on a medium setting, run some dough through then run it through again working down to a very thin setting flouring between passes as needed to keep dough from sticking.
- Keep your board well floured so the dough does not stick at all.
- A sharp knife, a pizza wheel, or an adjustable pastry cutter that cuts multiple even strips quickly work well when making chrusciki.
- If you are rolling and shaping a lot at once before deep frying, it helps keep them from drying out if you cover them with a cotton kitchen towel.
- Use a deep frying or candy thermometer. It’s important to keep your oil temperature around 350-360 degrees F.
- Once your oil is at temperature, drop the strips of dough in and cook for approximately 15 seconds or until nicely brown on one side. Flip using two forks and cook until other side is brown. Remove them with a slotted spoon or kitchen spider to a cookie sheet lined with paper towels to soak up any excess oil. Transfer to another sheet or rack before dusting with powdered sugar.
- If not planning to serve immediately, hold off on dusting with powdered sugar until serving to help retain crispness.
- Store loosely covered with foil, not plastic wrap.
The Art of The Fold
Actually there isn’t any mystery to the “folding” or shaping of chrusciki. The strips of pastry are cut, then a small “buttonhole” type slit is cut in the center and one end of the strip is pulled through Trying to explain it in words may not be the best way, so let’s take a look at how it’s done in this short video (the cook is making the pastry which is known as “crostoli” or “chiacchere” in Italian) showing how to use a pasta machine AND how to shape them whether rolled with a rolling pin or pasta machine.
Start A Tradition You Will Cherish
Now that these lovely holiday treats are no longer a mystery when it comes to making them, shaping them, or frying them, why not make up a big batch in your own kitchen. I guarantee your family will love them – no one can eat just one. Just make sure to save some for yourself otherwise you won’t get to enjoy the fruits (or the cruschiki) of your labor!
Polish ChruscikiCourse: DessertCuisine: Eastern European, Coal RegionDifficulty: Intermediate
A traditional sweet crisp pastry made out of dough that has been shaped into thin twisted ribbons, deep-fried and sprinkled with powdered sugar.
3 egg yolks
2 Tablespoons sugar
pinch of salt
2 Tablespoons sour cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 Tablespoon rum. brandy, or whiskey
3/4 cup all purpose flour
2 Tablespoons additional flour or as needed plus additional flour for dusting your board
1 quart of oil for frying (safflower, canola, shortening or lard)
1/2 cup powdered sugar or as needed
- In a small bowl using an electric hand mixer on high, beat egg yolks, sugar and salt until thick and lemon colored – about a minute.
- On low speed, mix in sour cream, vanilla, liquor and flour. Stir in enough additional flour to form a mass (usually a couple tablespoons)
- Transfer to a floured surface and knead 50 turns (about 2 minutes), adding extra flour as needed.
- Divide dough in half, keeping extra covered with plastic.
- On a well floured surface, roll each section paper-thin to at least 12” across. Cut into 1 1/4-inch wide strips. Cut strips into 5-inch lengths. Make a slit in the center of each strip. Pull one end through slit to make a “bow tie”.
- Deep fry in oil at about 350-360 F for about 15 seconds each side, turning once using 2 forks, until lightly golden on both sides.
- Drain on paper towels. Let cool and sprinkle with powdered sugar.
- To re-crisp place on baking sheet in a 325° oven for about 5 minutes. Cool completely and re-dust with fresh powdered sugar.
- Can be mixed in a Stand Mixer and rolled using a pasta machine or attachment.