Traditionally, chruściki (krooss-CHEE-kee) are associated with the pre-Lenten feasting that starts on Shrove Thursday and continues through Shrove Tuesday (known as Mardi Gras in the States).
In Poland, it is Shrove Thursday when chruściki and another fried dessert, pączki, are eaten with abandon. Herring are eaten on Shrove Tuesday (when Americans have their Pączki Day) and the day is known as sledziówka.
Because they are time-consuming, chruściki in Poland are usually reserved for special occasions like Shrove Thursday, weddings, St. Joseph's Day and name day.
In America, where chruściki are also known as angel wings and crullers, they can be purchased at most bakeries and are served at any special occasion.
When I make these, I'm suddenly 5 years old again at a Polish-American wedding, inhaling the aroma of freshly fried chruściki and elbowing my siblings out of the way for first dibs at the dessert platter passed at family-style dinners.
- 5 large egg yolks (room temperature)
- 1 large egg (room temperature)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup sugar (confectioners')
- 1/4 cup cream (heavy)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon rum (or brandy)
- 2 cups flour (all-purpose)
- 1 quart canola (or vegetable oil)
- Garnish: confectioners' sugar
- Combine egg yolks, whole egg and salt in the bowl of a mixer. Beat at high speed until thick and lemon-colored, about 5 minutes. Beat in sugar, cream, vanilla and rum. Add flour and beat until blisters form after about 5 minutes.
- Turn dough out onto a floured board, divide in half, cover with plastic wrap and let rest for at least 20 minutes.
- Working with half of the dough at a time, roll out to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut into 2-inch-wide strips. Cut these strips on the diagonal at 4-inch intervals.
- Heat 2 inches of oil in a large, deep skillet to 350 degrees. Make a slit in the center of each strip of dough. Then pull one end through the slit to form a bow.
- Fry 6 chruściki at a time for 1 minute or less per side or until golden. These fry quickly, so watch closely. Drain on paper towels. Dust with confectioners' sugar. Some like to drizzle their chrusciki with honey. These pastries tend not to store well, but if kept tightly covered, they can be re-crisped in a 350-degree oven for a few minutes and served the next day.