As you might expect, desserts vary from region to region in Poland, but the items on this list of favorite Polish dessert recipes seem to be universal throughout the country.
01 of 10
Because these light-as-air fried bow knot pastries, known as chruściki, are a little labor intensive to make, they are typically only served on special occasions like weddings, holidays, christenings, graduations, St. Joseph's Day and other feast days.
02 of 10
Polish foldovers or kołaczki is another favorite Polish dessert that takes a little time to make, so they usually make an appearance for special occasions, especially at Christmas time.
03 of 10
Pączki, or Polish doughnuts or bismarcks as they are commonly known, are always served on Fat Tuesday as a splurge food before the fast days of Lent. But these fried cakes also appear on special occasions throughout the year.
04 of 10
Apple tart or szarlotka is the Polish version of American apple pie, except the crust, is sweeter and made with butter. Szarlotka is different from placek z jabłka or apple cake (above), which is leavened with baking powder or baking soda. But, these two desserts along with sernik or cheesecake (below) make up the most frequently seen sweets in Polish homes.Continue to 5 of 10 below.
05 of 10
Polish cheesecake recipes have come a long way. Originally made with a pastry crust, in modern Poland, anything goes—cookie crumbs, graham cracker crumbs, or no crust at all! As with the apple cake, above, there are hundreds of recipes for Polish cheesecake. This is one my family likes.
06 of 10
This Polish coffee cake recipe can be made with or without raisins and is only slightly sweet, and benefits from the crumb topping. It's wonderful with butter and a hot cup of coffee, but try it toasted or made into french toast.
07 of 10
Polish kołacz or wheel cake is a favorite dessert at old-time Polish weddings, especially among the gorale, people who live in Lesser Poland in the southeastern part of the country. It was one of my father's favorite desserts, one of the few his mother had time to make, and one my mother never learned how to make. There are many versions, including one with a lattice-dough top.
08 of 10
This Polish cream cake dessert was renamed papal cream cake or kremówka papieska when it was learned Pope John Paul II loved it. I supposed it could be considered a Polish napoleon.Continue to 9 of 10 below.
09 of 10
This Polish Carpathian Mountain cream cake recipe is known as karpatka. It's a peasant version of the more refined kremówka, which is made with puff pastry. Karpatka is made with the same type of dough used to make cream puffs and éclairs, known as pâte à choux in French. When dusted with confectioners' sugar, the dessert takes on the look of the craggy, snow-capped Carpathian Mountains, hence its name.
10 of 10
Polish mazurkas or mazureks are flat pastries, rarely more than 1 inch high, and there are as many recipes as there are cooks in Poland. Their appearance can vary widely. This recipe is for a royal mazurek with dollops of jam between the latticework of the dough.