In Polish families, Christmas is a time for friends to pay each other a visit. That means a glass of Christmas cheer, coffee or tea, and sweets, if not a full-blown meal. So having a tray of cookies—called ciasteczka na święta—ready to serve is ideal, and there are plenty of time-honored recipes to choose from.
01 of 09
This traditional Polish almond cookie recipe, or amaretti, is for flourless cookies which come together quickly. These light cookies—made with only egg whites, sugar, ground almonds, and almond oil or extract—are perfect with a cup of tea or coffee, and make a nice addition to the holiday cookie tray.
02 of 09
Sometimes called Polish foldovers, kołaczki come in many versions and have a variety of spellings. They can be square, diamond-shaped, or round. The dough can be made with cream cheese, sour cream, ice cream, or yeast. Fillings run the gamut from apricot to raspberry to prune to cheese. This recipe includes a flaky cream cheese dough and apricot filling.
03 of 09
Polish rogaliki mean "little horns" because of their shape. There are many versions—some recipes require rolling the dough and cutting it into triangles, adding a dollop of filling and rolling, like Jewish rugelach. This recipe is for a hand-formed cookie similar to Polish Christmas crescents (featured below), except these are made with almonds.
04 of 09
These Polish vanilla cookies, or ciasteczka waniliowe, are egg-free and made with ground almonds and vanilla bean, giving them a rich nutty and vanilla flavor. They are formed into crescent shapes much like Polish rogaliki and are considered a Polish Christmas cookie.Continue to 5 of 9 below.
05 of 09
It is believed this cookie was created by King Louis XIV’s master pastry chefs at the Palace of Versailles for the Medici of Florence. This recipe for Polish florentines, or florentynki, is made with candied orange peel and nuts and is dressed with a coating of chocolate on the bottom. Many Florentine versions include oats, but these are made without.
06 of 09
Traditionally, ciastka krucha (shortbread or literally "flaky cookies") are made by enveloping a pecan half in the buttery dough and shaping the cookies into crescents. Today, as in this recipe, people often add finely chopped pecans into the dough instead and form the cookies into rounds (so they're called "Polish full moons").
07 of 09
These walnut-shaped cookies, or ciasteczka orzeszki, are made in molds and then sandwiched together with creamy fillings either made of cream or chocolate or a combination of the two. You can use either oven individual walnut-shaped molds or stovetop molds that resemble a waffle iron.
08 of 09
These crispy and light wafle cookies are made on a special iron, like a Norwegian iron. They can be eaten plain—and show off their design this way—but taste even better with honey or jam sandwiched between, and dusted with confectioners' sugar.Continue to 9 of 9 below.
09 of 09
This recipe for Polish butter cookies with jam, or ciasteczka maślane z dżemem, is a simple cookie with jam in the middle. It's popular year-round, but especially at Christmas. The preferred filling is strawberry jam, but anything goes well inside these buttery treats.