Chrusciki, or angel wings, are a classic polish cookie. They’re flaky and delicate, best served with a heavy dusting of powdered sugar. I grew up eating these every Easter and Christmas Eve, and they remain a beloved – and delicious – piece of our holiday traditions.
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My family has opinions about food. LOTS and LOTS of opinions. Mostly because there are some seriously strong food cultures meshing in our tribe.
My Babcia, my dad’s mother, is Polish. She married an Italian and made it her mission in the kitchen to learn how to cook his favorite recipes from the homeland. While we enjoyed lots of heavily Italian-influenced Sunday suppers over the years, it is her Polish roots that have made indelible culinary imprints on my holiday memories.
Christmas Eve begins with rounds of mushroom uskza soup – tiny Polish mushroom dumplings in a creamy broth that is utterly simple, but so heavenly. Everyone begs for seconds, and we’re delighted when children or newcomers decline a serving so we can greedily eat their portions. It’s a dish so eagerly anticipated that the few times my grandmother traveled out of state for Christmas over the years, she dutifully made the soup in advance to avoid a holiday riot.
Dinner is a little more multi-cultural, with offerings of lasagne, some kind of fish, antipasti salad, cheese and kielbasa, and scratch-made pierogis. While the dessert spread is typically more American than any other course, this flaky fried pastry, chrusciki, is almost always present. I remember rolling out paper thin sheets of dough to make fresh chrusciki with grandma, and when we were done with the main cookies, she’d fry up little bits of leftover dough for us to have right then. Perfection in every way.
What is Chrusciki?
Chrusciki is a non-yeast dough flavored with almond extract. The dough is cut into ribbons, formed into knots, and then deep fried and dusted with powdered sugar. They’re airy, crisp and delicate.
How to Make Polish Chrusciki
This recipe for chrusciki was passed down to me from my grandmother. The directions should be followed precisely in order to achieve the perfect crisp and delicate texture. Dust liberally with powdered sugar while the cookies are still warm, and then again once more before serving.
Sift the all-purpose flour with fine grain sea salt. I don’t have a flour sifter, as I make so few recipes that necessitate it, so I use a fine mesh strainer and it works perfectly.
Using the paddle attachment, you’ll beat egg yolks with sugar, almond extract, and lemon zest until the mixture is quite thick, almost pudding like. It takes awhile, 4-5 minutes, at medium speed. Don’t rush this process. Once it’s bright yellow and thick, switch the speed to low and beat in the sour cream.
Keeping the speed at the lowest setting possible, start adding the sifted flour one tablespoon at a time. Completely work in the flour before adding the next tablespoon. Once all the flour has been added, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. It will be dry and a little crumbly. Knead 10-12 times by hand, then cover with a towel and rest the dough for 1 hour.
Divide the dough into 8 pieces, then divide each of those in half for 16 sections total. Remove one section of dough, keeping the remainder covered by the tea towel. On a floured surface, roll the dough out until it’s paper thin. Using a pastry wheel, cut the rolled-out dough into 5″ x 2″ strips. Cut a slit into one end of the strip, then pass the other end through this opening to make a knot. Repeat this process with the remaining strips and pieces of dough. You’ll get roughly four dozen cookies.
Heat a quart of vegetable oil in a dutch oven to 370°F. While the oil is heating up, prepare several plates or baking sheets lined with paper towels.
Add 3-4 raw chrusciki to the oil and fry, turning once, until puffed up and golden brown – it should take 30 seconds or so per side. Remove the cookies from the oil using a slotted spoon, drain on the paper towel lined plates, and then dust with powdered sugar while still warm. Repeat with the remaining cookies. Watch the temperature of the oil and ensure it stays in with 5 degrees of 370° throughout the deep frying process.
Chrusciki are best the day-of, but can be kept up to 2 days. To store, lay flat on baking sheets and cover loosely with aluminum foil. Dust again with powdered sugar just before serving.
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Chrusciki (Angel Wings)Print Recipe Rate This Recipe
- 2 c all-purposed flour sifted
- 1/4 tsp fine grain salt
- 5 large egg yolks
- 3 tbsp granulated sugar
- 1.5 tsp almond extract
- 1/4 tsp lemon zest
- 5 tbsp sour cream
- 1 quart vegetable oil
- 1/2 c powdered sugar
- Sift the flour with the salt.
- Combine the egg yolks, sugar, almond extract, and lemon zest in the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the paddle attachment, beat at medium until the eggs are thick and bright yellow. The consistency will be just a bit thinner than pudding.
- Reduce the speed to low, add the sour cream, and beat until throughly mixed, about 1 minute.
- Keeping the speed at the lowest setting, add the sifted flour one heaping tablespoon at a time. Allow the flour to be fully worked into the dough before adding the next batch.
- Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. It will be dry and a little crumbly. Knead 10-12 times, then cover with a tea towel and rest for 1 hour.
- Divide the dough ball into 8 pieces, then divide each piece in half. Remove one piece of dough, and cover the rest with the towel.
- Roll out the dough into a large circle until paper thin. Using a pastry wheel, slice the dough into 5" x 2" strips. Make a small slit in one end of the dough, then pass the other end of the strip through the opening to create a knot. Set the raw dough aside onto a baking sheet. Repeat this process with the remaining portions of dough.
- Heat the vegetable oil in a dutch oven to 370°F. While the oil is heating up, prepare several plates or baking sheets lined with paper towels.
- Add 3-4 raw chrusciki to the oil and fry, turning once using forks or tongs, until puffed up and golden brown, about 30 seconds per side. Remove the chrusciki from the oil using a slotted spoon, drain on the paper towel lined plates, and then dust with powdered sugar while still warm. Repeat with the remaining cookies. Watch the temperature of the oil and ensure it stays within 5 degrees of 370° throughout the deep frying process, adjusting the heat level as necessary.
- Chrusciki are best the day-of, but can be kept up to 2 days. To store, lay flat on baking sheets and cover loosely with aluminum foil. Dust again with powdered sugar just before serving.