What dyeing the Chicago River green is to St. Patrick’s Day, the paczki is to Fat Tuesday.
What’s not to love about these crème- and fruit-filled puffs of fried dough? Just that they only come around once a year.
Originally created by the Poles as a way to use up lard, sugar, eggs and fruit before the start of the Lenten fast, paczkis have since become an annual tradition in Chicago, where this kissing cousin of the jelly doughnut has built a rabid following.
You can get your paczki fix through March 8 at a number of local bakeries including Bleeding Heart Bakery, Dinkel’s Bakery, Gene’s Sausage Shop and Fritz Pastry, which has a vegan variety that’s proven so popular, the bakery is offering it all week.
Bleeding Heart and Dinkel’s are also baking up another Mardi Gras favorite—the king cake (aka king’s cake, take your pick). Brought to the U.S. from France and Spain, the king cake is most popular in New Orleans.
A ring of twisted bread, similar to brioche, is topped with purple, green and gold icing or sugar. Bite into the cake at your own risk—a tiny trinket (usually a plastic baby) is hidden somewhere inside the dough. It’s debatable whether it’s good luck to find the trinket—whoever gets it has to supply the next king cake.
If you’d like to try your own hand at either of these pastries, we found a quick and easy recipe for the king cake that uses refrigerated dough and canned frosting. Paczkis, on the other hand, are notoriously complicated—they’ve been called “hard to make, easy to buy”—but if you’ve got a day to spend in the kitchen, this dough’s for you.
So tell us, are you a paczki fan?