The return of the paczki

It’s raw here today — the kind of dreary, blustery day whose damp winds suddenly knife through your coat, sting your face until it burns, and force the tears to leak from your eyes. It’s the kind of day that makes you wish they would call off school/work for “extreme grayness” so at least we could all stay in our pajamas, drink hot chocolate, play games, and watch “The Avengers.” Not that I’ve given it all that much thought. Ahem.

But there’s work to be done, errands to be run, kids to chauffeur thither and yon. Only one thing could really brighten up my crew this morning: the return of the paczki.

Mmmmmmm, paczki!

Mmmmmmm, paczki!

Paczki, pronounced “poonch-key,” are akin to jelly-filled donuts, but these are denser, sweeter dough discs (per my husband) made by Polish bakers to use up the ingredients in their pantries before the start of Lent. There are all kinds of fillings; I’m partial to strawberry, but my kids like the cheese or apple-filled ones. These pastries are — to put it mildly — ridiculously good. And so addictive.

Finding proper paczki is a huge thing in Chicago. At Polish bakeries tomorrow, there’ll be such long lines of people waiting for their once-a-year fix that it’ll be one of the top stories on the local news. As a transplant, I’d never heard of them until I lived here, but I now understand that they are as much as part of Mardi Gras here as jambalaya and parades are in New Orleans.

Besides, they’re just fun. And did I mention delicious?

Even though the real Paczki Day is tomorrow on Fat Tuesday, over the weekend we bought a few boxes to eat and to share. But because drastically gray days call for drastic measures to get everyone up and running and out the door, we broke into them today.

And then I sent those sugar-filled kids to school. I don’t regret it a bit.

Ever heard of paczki or had one? What’s your favorite? Got any other “must-eats” (like a Shamrock Shake) this time of year?



About thethingaboutjoan

Mom of three who knits a little, bakes a lot, crafts a bit and blogs about it all.
This entry was posted in Family, Holidays, Mardi Gras and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

30 Responses to The return of the paczki

  1. Rochelle says:

    We are having an ‘extreme greyness’ day in Berlin too. I feel your pain, and I have also resorted to cake, so I’m in solidarity with you on both counts.

    • I firmly believe that pastry is the only way to conquer these gray gray February days! Glad to know I’m not alone! Enjoy your cake and here’s hoping that the sun decides to come out tomorrow — or that we really do get a “stay-at-home-for-grayness” day!

  2. Pat Kovach says:

    We also opened the box and had paczki this morning. We love the bavarian creme or raspberry filled ones. They are a treat.

    • Pat, I thought of you when S brought home the paczki! Bavarian creme and raspberry-filled sound good enough to make me want to run to the store and snatch them up before someone else gets them! 🙂 Enjoy!

  3. Yummy paczkis! My favorite are the cheese ones. Our must-eat this time of year is a king cake. i I am originally from New Orleans, so I order one for us each year. It arrived on Friday! 🙂

    • Oh, king cake!! I can’t believe I forgot about it! Someone brought one into our office a few years ago and I’d never seen a cake go so quickly nor a person look so smug as the guy who got the slice with the baby!

      Happy Mardi Gras to you and yours! Hope you all enjoy your king cake!

      On 2/11/13 11:23 AM, “the thing about joan…”

  4. Love Paczkis!! Being from Wisconsin, they were always a great treat that we could find frequently — now down in Texas they are a bit more scarce. I’m with your kids on this, favorites are apple and the cheese ones.

    • We’re keeping score on which flavor is the best. So far, strawberry is waaaay outnumbered — cheese is currently in the top spot (I’m adding in everyone’s comments here too). Although, honestly, a bad paczki? Is there such a thing? 🙂

      It might be harder to find paczkis in Texas, but I’ll bet you’ve got nicer February weather! 🙂 Have a good one!

      On 2/11/13 11:36 AM, “the thing about joan…”

  5. alenaslife says:

    We have a box of them at my office, which I’m trying desperately to avoid. Artery clogging delivery. These are from Webber’s Bakery.

  6. amyp22 says:

    Being new to the area, we didn’t experience them until last year. Holt cow! So glad they are a once a year treat because they are hard to stay away from.

    • I know! I never knew what I was missing until I came here and oh my! They have the same “gotta-have-them” vibe as Girl Scout Thin Mint cookies or a McD’s McRib — except these are around for a much, MUCH shorter time.

      • amyp22 says:

        While we were living in RI, we experienced the celebration of St Joseph’s Day…day after St Pat’s Day, if I remember correctly. They have this cream puff pastry…to die for.

      • Oooh, cream puffs! Sounds delicious! I have to say, between the mention of cream puffs, king cake and paczki, I’m getting a contact sugar-high! What a way to head into Fat Tuesday!

  7. Susan Bahr says:

    Oh boy, does that sound yummy! Being as I’m from Vermont – can’t say that I’ve ever heard of such a thing. Too bad!

    • It’s quite the tradition here in Chicago. Even in the freezing cold of the early morning tomorrow, there will be lines of people queuing up to buy them. One of the Polish bakeries near us only sells them to people who pre-ordered their selections last Thursday. They’re worth every bite too!

      • Susan Bahr says:

        That is so very cool – what an “alien” world this is to me. I’m sitting right now typing at the kitchen table, surrounded by woods and snow and white. Not a neighbor in sight and the closest city is 45 minutes away. Chicago just such a massive place with culture and diversity (another thing we DON’T have in common, alas).
        Enjoy those paczki-thingys. They sound so good!

  8. These look delicious, filled with sugar but I never heard of them! I wonder if they have them in Montreal? 🙂 hope the week will be brighter for you guys there! Here, it was OK, not too sunny just good! 🙂 have a good Monday and a good week! 🙂

  9. I just had my first one last year! Apparently I have been living under a rock all of my life because they are big around here too and I had never heard of them! You can get them at our local grocery store but my brother who apparently is a Paczcki connoisseur said the best ones were found in a town a little drive from us so he went there and picked me up a box! I think he brought me lemon so I’m going to have to try a few more flavors this year!

    • I think everyone who knows about them has a favorite place to get them. You can buy them in grocery stores here too, but I think some folks like the whole experience of getting them from a bakery once a year.

      Lemon sounds delish. I just heard on the news this morning that one baker was trying a new flavor — bourbon-flavored custard inside. Now I’m all for fusion food, you understand, but a bourbon-filled pastry turns my stomach a little… That’s definitely the weirdest one I’ve heard of. To each his own, I guess, but I’m sticking with strawberry or raspberry.

  10. Lynne says:

    grabbed a half dozen last night…I don’t trust myself around the raspberry paczki!

  11. Northern Narratives says:

    My grandmother used to make them filled with raspberry jam.

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