For Polish families, Christmas is a time for friends to pay each other a visit. That means a glass of Christmas cheer, coffee or tea, and sweets, if not a full-blown meal. So having a tray of cookies ready to serve—called ciasteczka na święta—is ideal, and there are plenty of time-honored recipes to choose from.
Watch Now: How to Make Kołaczki
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This traditional Polish almond cookie, or the Polish version of Italian amaretti, is a flourless cookie that takes little time to make. These light cookies are made with only egg whites, sugar, ground almonds, and almond oil or extract. They're perfect with a cup of tea or coffee, and make a nice addition to the holiday cookie tray. Those who are eating gluten-free foods will appreciate that this recipe needs no modification.
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Sometimes called Polish foldovers, kołaczki (spelled in a variety of ways) come in many versions. They can be square, diamond-shaped, or round. The dough can be made with cream cheese, sour cream, ice cream, or yeast. Fillings run the gamut from apricot to raspberry to prune to cheese. This kołaczki recipe includes a flaky cream cheese dough and apricot filling.
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Rogaliki means "little horns" and are so-named because of their shape. There are many versions—some recipes require rolling out the dough and cutting it into triangles, adding a dollop of filling, and rolling it up like rugelach. This recipe is for a hand-formed almond crescent cookie similar to Polish Christmas crescents, except these are made with almonds.
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These Polish vanilla cookies, or ciasteczka waniliowe, are egg free and made with ground almonds and vanilla bean. They are formed into crescent shapes much like rogaliki and are considered a traditional Christmas cookie.Continue to 5 of 8 below.
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Florentine Cookies (Polish Florentynki)
Florentine cookies are said to have been created by French King Louis XIV’s master pastry chefs to entertain the Medici family of Florence. This recipe for Polish florentines, or florentynki, is made with candied orange peel and nuts, and is dressed with a coating of chocolate on the bottom. Many Florentine versions include oats, but these are made without.
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These walnut-shaped cookies, or ciasteczka orzeszki, get their shape from individual walnut-shaped molds or stove-top molds that resemble a waffle iron. A creamy apricot jam or walnut filling is included between the two halves.
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This recipe for Polish butter cookies with jam, or ciasteczka maślane z dżemem, is a simple, buttery cookie with a fruity filling. It's popular year-round but especially at Christmas. The preferred filling is strawberry jam, but anything goes well inside these sweet treats.