Marie Patrick says these decadent doughnuts were a staple during Easter and Christmas dinners at her Polish Babci's home, where they would be made for the Christmas Eve meal.
"She sailed from Poland as a young bride and made all dishes from memory. I would ask for recipes and she would point to her head — telling me she added ingredients by how the dough felt or tasted," Marie says. "So I diligently watched her make everything, but doubted even as I grew older that the end product would turn out as hers did."
Her husband, Robert, adds that when they were growing up, they called them Chrusciki, but newer names for this dessert include winks or bowties. He thinks the new names probably came about because they resemble the confection's shape and are easier to pronounce.
Marie says she and Robert always make them together, as they both love to cook. They share the following tips for making this recipe.
The dough has to be kneaded until there are air bubbles in it, and it must be rolled out as thin as you can get it. Make sure your oil is hot, because the cookies will be chewy instead of crispy if not. Once they are in the oil, be sure not to let them burn; they take only about 20 seconds to brown.
Brandy or rum is added to keep the cookies from absorbing fat during the frying process. Marie says that vinegar may be substituted for the alcohol.
"Making these desserts brings me back to Babci's kitchen every holiday, at that crowded table with family gathered," she says.