Kruschiki: the Ultimate Christmas Cookie

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My friend Cristina and my daughter Jessi with the finished cookies.

Crisp. Rich. Not too sweet. They have more than a taste. They have a feel that I couldn’t begin to describe. And they are beautiful. THIS is the cookie of my childhood. A special part of my Polish heritage. We made them every year. And I yearn for a life where time for such things exists. Making Kruschiki takes hours. It’s been 2 years since I’ve made them, and it was probably 15 years before that.

My friend Cristina loves to hear people’s stories. She wants to know who you are, where you came from, what makes you tick. She wants to know your heritage, your traditions, your food. She is why I made Kruschiki 2 years ago. I don’t know when I’ll make them again, but today I can’t stop thinking about them, and so I can at least tell you about them.

The bow tie shapes of dough

Cristina cutting the dough

Frying the dough

Without the powdered sugar

The finished masterpiece

How to Make Kruschiki

Ingredients: 2 eggs, plus 4 egg yokes, at room temperature, 1/2 t. salt, 2 c. flour, 1/2 c. powdered sugar, 1/4 c. softened butter, 1 shot of brandy, oil for frying.

Directions: Beat eggs, egg yolks, salt and butter until thick and lemon colored. Slowly beat in the powdered sugar and brandy. Slowly mix in flour. Knead the dough for 3 – 5 minutes. The dough should be thick and will be a bit sticky. To roll, you will be working with small balls of dough. Keep the rest of the dough in the bowl, covered with a clean, damp dishtowel. On a floured surface, use a rolling pin to roll the dough out very thin – 1/8th of an inch. Take a sharp knife and cut the dough into strips about 2″ wide. Then cut the other way on a diagonal to make pieces of dough that are about 2″ x 4″. Cut a small slit (1″ or less) in the center of each piece. To form the cookie, take one end and place it through the slit. Very gently pull the end of the dough through the slit to form a bow shaped cookie. In a large pot or deep skillet heat about 3 – 4 inches of oil until very hot. Test the oil by putting in a small scrap of dough; it should sink to the bottom and then immediately float to the top. When this happens your oil is ready. Fry the cookies in small batches. Fry for about 30 seconds and then use tongs to gently turn the cookies over. The cookies should be barely golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Cool. Dust liberally with powdered sugar. Makes about 6 dozen cookies.

Shared at : Six Sisters Strut Your Stuff

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  1. deb says

    Susan, what is it that takes so long? I’d love to make these to celebrate MY Polish heritage!
    Do you twist the dough before putting it through the slit?
    Thanks, once again, for an inspiring post. Love your photos. Love your writing!

    • says

      Hi Deb, I think because the dough is rolled so thin, it seems like it never ends. The frying takes time because only so many fit in the pot, and it needs to be watched constantly, so once you start frying, you cannot be doing anything else. And there seems to be a lot of clean up. I enjoy all of it, but I wouldn’t attempt this unless I knew I had several free hours.

      You do not twist the dough before pulling it through the slits; at least we never did. Glad you visited, and glad you enjoyed!

  2. says

    This is the same recipe my family uses. I make them every other Christmas. We travel cross country to my in laws every other year, so I don’t make them since they don’t travel well. Using a deep fryer significantly cuts down on the time. I have a rectangular one with a basket, and you get much more even coloring and can cook more at once. I remember as a kid going to my great aunt’s and seeing the entire dining room table covered in tea towels and kruschiki. Good memories. I’m pretty sure my cousins look forward to the years we stay here just because I make them.

      • says

        It’s good to know that people still take the time to make sure that Christmas traditions and ethnic food recipes don’t die. The fryer sounds like a good idea! Nothing wrong with modern conveniences making our old traditions easier. My bread machine is the only reason we get fresh baked sprouted wheat bread a few times a week! Think of this stranger when you bite into one of those cookies this year!! And thanks for stopping by.

  3. Italics Mine says

    I’ve never made Kruschiki, but I want to give them a whirl. From your experience, can you answer me this:
    1) to simplify the recipe (even at some loss in perfection) can I put the ingredients in a bread machine on dough cycle to knead the dough?
    2) my partner is allergic to alcohol. Is there a substitute for the shot of brandy?
    3) is there a particular oil that works best: vegetable? cannola? Crisco solid shortening? etc; and is a name brand of oil just as good as the store brand?
    Many thanks

    • says

      Hi Jimmy! I’m so glad you are going to give this a try. I have no experience at all with anything other than mixing this by hand, so I really don’t know how this would work in a bread machine. If you decide to try it, let me know how it worked. It’s a very sticky dough, and I put flour on my hands frequently to keep the dough from sticking. The alcohol evaporates with cooking. If that is still not acceptable, I think you could leave it out altogether or even try something like rum extract. The recipe calls for brandy, but I remember my mom using different kinds of whisky as well, so I think the rum extract would be a good substitute. Oh, but extracts have alcohol in them, too, don’t they? The alcohol gives the cookie a nice flavor, but I think it would still be good without it. As far as the oil, you can use any type or brand, including a store brand, that lends itself to high cooking temperatures. I seem to remember my mother using Crisco shortening, but I don’t use hydrogenated oils, so I used a high oleic safflower oil the last time I made these. I hope this helps, and that the cookies turn out perfectly for you.

  4. Jeannie Gabrynowicz says

    I never thought it possible, but we accomplish this big undertaking by making it a neighborhood party/project. I supply the supper party and my neighbors supply the elbow grease! I have the dough mixed in advance and I use my pasta machine to roll the dough out thinly. Then we break up into informal teams and folks feed the pasta machine to make the sheets, others cut and make the bowties. I fill the deep fryer while someone else has the all-important job of turning and scooping out the finished Kruschiki and then sprinkling on the powdered sugar.
    Believe it or not we’ve been doing this for about 5 years and as long as you have neighbors willing to dedicate themselves for an hour shift or so, it all works out beautifully. Everyone takes home a tin of the finished product and we have lovely memories to carry us through another year. *Full disclosure- I never dreamed this would work so well. An Irish/Polish neighbor begged me to include him in my project one year and that’s how the party originated. It really is counter-intuitive since the ‘project’ is so labor intensive and time critical! Merry Christmas!

  5. Mary Nagy says

    It is always a treat when I bring the dough, rolling pin, flour, powdered sugar, and my electric frying pan into my 8th grade classroom and share my Polish heritage with my highly Latino culture of students. They enjoy learning about my family background and love the end product. One substitution I do make, however, is rum flavoring for actual rum. Either way, they are a piece of heaven, and a memory I can make with my students.


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