Chicago Celebrates Mardi Gras with Polish “Paczki”
Delightful Pastries company, known as Chicago’s largest producer of authentic Polish paczki, offers a different menu annually for Mardi Gras, on Tuesday, February 9 this year. The family-owned and operated bakery and café will begin to churn out thousands of housemade paczki per day to prepare for the massive demand on Fat Tuesday.
Originally created for cooks to use up their lard and eggs that were prohibited during Lent, paczki is now one of the most popular sweet treats eaten to celebrate Mardi Gras. Different from a doughnut, paczki is made up of a large ball of dough rich in eggs, deep fried and stuffed with a wide variety of fillings. Each paczki is traditionally topped with a sugar glaze or dusted with powdered sugar.
The paczki reminds me of the Austro-Hungarian version of the doughnut, the puffy Fank, which also has no hole in the middle. Fans is prepared with and without jam. By coincidence, it’s considered a carnival dish in Hungary although at my aunt’s house, any excuse was enough to down as many as were offered. They are lighter than an American doughnut and somehow crisper on the outside. They too are are dusted with powdered sugar. Ah.
The difference between a doughnut and paczki is in the dough. “It’s denser; it’s a yeast dough that doesn’t collapse when you bite in,” says Delightful Pastries Owner and Pastry Chef Dobra Bielinski. “One of the reasons ours are so good is that we don’t use any additives; everything is from scratch – flour, sugar, butter, milk and eggs are the base.”
This year’s paczki menu includes flavors such as Apricot Jelly, Raspberry Jelly, Rose Pedal Jelly, Plum Butter, Fresh Strawberry & Whipped Cream and Custard Topped with Chocolate Fudge. Gourmet flavors include Passion Fruit Jelly and the new Peanut Butter Frosting & Raspberry Jelly. Paczki Day signature “Drunken Paczki” flavors include Vodka & Vanilla Bean Custard, Jameson Whiskey Chocolate Custard and Moonshine & Lemon. Prices range from $2 to $3.50 per paczki. A full menu is available online.
Delightful Pastries offers a limited paczki menu year-round, with the 2016 Fat Tuesday menu will be available at all three locations beginning on February 1. Sorry folks, but the paczki are only available at the Chicago locations.
About Delightful Pastries
Delightful Pastries is a family-owned and operated bakery that has been serving delicious home-style European pastries, cakes and baked goodies to their faithful Chicago clientele for more than 18 years. They prepare baked goods and scrumptious pastries using only the finest local ingredients and classic European baking traditions, handed down from generation to generation. Locations include Jefferson Park, Old Town and the Chicago French Market. For more information, visit www.delightfulpastries.com.