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Hvorost (Khrustyky Fried Cookies)

Today I'm sharing with you a FAVORITE family dessert recipe: Hvorost, which are crispy fried cookies that are popular in Ukraine and Russia. They're coated in a light dusting of powdered sugar and are so crunchy and absolutely irresistible!

Hvorost is a great party dessert because you can put out a few bowls and let people snack on it throughout the party!

Container of hvorost cookies dusted with powdered sugar
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What is hvorost?

Hvorost is a traditional Eastern European dessert. It's a cookie made by rolling out thin unleavened dough and frying small pieces in oil until crispy. 

The word "hvorost" means "twigs" in Russian, or thin dry wood that is used to make a fire. Picture yourself hiking through the woods and stepping on small thin dried out twigs: you're going to hear loud crunching and the twigs will break.

These cookies are named "hvorost" because they are crisp, crunchy, and so delightful to eat. They are also brown in color. The powdered sugar? You can pretend that's fresh powdered snow that just started coming down. 

My grandma has been making these cookies for us for decades, and we always wait around impatiently for the batch to cool down so we can start crunching on them. We always called these cookies "hvorost" because we spoke Russian at home, but many Ukrainian families also call them "verhuny."

Many countries have their own version of hvorost. We are lucky enough to live in a town with lots of Polish delis, and they sell large bags of fresh-made "khrustyky," which are essentially the same thing. 

Close up of a hvorost cookie to show texture

More traditional Ukrainian desserts to try: Zapekanka

Hvorost shapes and variations

Every family has their own way of shaping these cookies, but they all start out with rolling out dough until it's really thin and cutting it into small pieces. From there, you can make bow ties, cut into rectangles with a wavy edge pasta cutter, or make loose knots. See below for a couple different shapes of hvorost cookies:

Collage of 2 pictures showing 2 different ways to cut hvorost cookies

The other variation in these cookies is how the dough is actually made. This also varies from family to family. Some recipes have vodka in them, which helps makes the cookies extra light and crispy because the vodka evaporates quickly in the hot oil. Other recipes skip the vodka. The texture of the cookies also depends on how thin the dough is rolled out.

There's no wrong way to make hvorost! You can't go wrong with crispy fried cookies and powdered sugar.

Ready to make some??

More traditional Ukrainian recipes to try: Syrniki

Ingredients to make a quadruple batch of hvorost dessert
Here are the ingredients to quadruple the hvorost recipe. For a small batch, use 1 egg and follow the ingredients list below.

Ingredients

This recipe below will make a bowl of hvorost that will serve 4-8 people, but it can easily be doubled or even quadrupled if you're making hvorost for a large party. Just be sure to factor in extra time to roll out the hvorost and fry the pieces.

  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar (regular white sugar)
  • 1 tablespoon melted unsalted butter (or use vegetable oil for a dairy-free dessert)
  • 2 tablespoons vodka (or substitute with white rum)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted (you can sift right into the mixing bowl)
  • vegetable oil for deep frying, about 2-5 cups, depending on the size and shape of your pot
  • powdered sugar for dusting, to taste

More Ukrainian recipes to try: Buttermilk Blini

Equipment

  • Large bowl
  • Fork or whisk
  • Flour sifter or mesh strainer
  • Plastic kitchen wrap
  • Large silicone mat or clean surface to roll out dough
  • Rolling pin or you can use a pasta roller machine to roll the dough nice and thin
  • Medium pot or saucepan (for deep frying), I prefer using a saucepan with higher sides to prevent splashing
  • Spider strainer, tongs, or slotted metal spoon for removing cooked hvorost cookies from the hot oil
  • Large plates lined with paper towels

More easy deep-fried desserts: Caramel Biscuit Donuts

Instructions

In a large bowl, whisk together the egg and granulated sugar. Add the melted butter, vodka, and salt. Mix well. 

Adding sugar to a beaten egg

Add the sifted flour, or add the flour through the fine mesh colander. Stir in the flour and mix well to make a dough. If needed, add a little bit of flour at a time, or a few drops of water at a time, to make a dense dough that is not sticky.

Collage of 2 pictures showing how to make hvorost dough

Divide the dough into 3-4 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball or shape into a log. Leave the dough balls in the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rest at room temperature for 30-40 minutes.

Work with 1 ball of dough at a time, leave the others covered to prevent them from drying out.

Roll out the dough very thinly, adding flour as needed to the rolling pin and the rolling surface to prevent dough from sticking. The thinner the dough, the crispier the cookies will be. As you can see here, the dough is almost see-through when rolled out. 

Dough rolled out really thin

Cut the dough into your desired shape, you can use a wavy-edge pasta cutter for a fun shape. You can make bow-ties by pinching in the center. You can make small 2-inch long parallelogram shapes, cut a hole in the middle, then tuck one corner through the hole. You can cut 3x1 inch rectangles and tie them up or wrap them together into a "rosette." Experiment with different shapes!

Set the cut pieces aside as you make them, dusting with flour as needed to prevent them from sticking to each other. Prepare another plate lined with paper towels. This is where you'll put the fried hvorost.

Heat the vegetable oil in a pot. I like to add enough oil to a high pot to have about 3 inches of oil in the pot, but only if using a high-sided saucepan. Test whether the oil is hot enough by gently dropping a small piece of dough in. If small bubbles start to form right away, the oil is hot enough. If the oil starts bubbling very vigorously, the oil is a little too hot.

Deep fry a few pieces at a time, taking care not to crowd the pan. Once the cookies are golden brown on one side, flip them over carefully using a heat-safe metal utensil. The hvorost cookies will fry quickly, so remove them using a spider strainer, tongs, or a slotted spoon as soon as they turn golden brown. Place on a paper towel to absorb excess oil.

Continue frying in small batches until all the cookies are fried. Allow to cool, then sprinkle with powdered sugar to serve. You can also place the cooled cookies into a large bowl, sprinkle with powdered sugar, shake the bowl, and then add more sugar on top.

Hvorost cookies on a plate

How to store hvorost

Humidity is the worst enemy for hvorost. It causes the sugar to clump up and the hvorost to become less crisp. Keep cooled hvorost in a sealed container for up to 5 days in a dry climate. 

Psst: If you like these crunchy hvorost cookies, you're also going to love these cinnamon pretzel twists!

Recipe tips and substitutions

→ This recipe might take some adjusting when you're making the dough. You might need to add more flour or a few drops of water, depending on how humid your kitchen is, how you measure out the flour, and how big your egg is. Just keep adjusting the dough as needed until you get a dough that is dense and does not stick as it is being rolled out. The most important thing for this recipe is to roll the dough out VERY thinly, so it needs to not stick. It's OK if the dough is dense because it will be thin and crispy after it's fried.

→ If you want to omit alcohol, just skip it and use a little bit less flour, as needed.

→ Make ahead tips: You can make the dough ahead of time, double wrap it tight in plastic wrap, and either freeze it for up to 1 month or refrigerate for up to 2 days. Bring the dough to room temperature before rolling it out. You might need to add a bit more flour because of condensation.

More Ukrainian recipes to try:

If you enjoyed this recipe, let me know with a comment and a star rating below. And don't forget to share it on Facebook and save it on Pinterest for later!

Hvorost cookies in a container
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5 from 1 vote

Hvorost (Khrustyky Fried Cookies)

An easy recipe for Hvorost—crispy fried cookies coated in powdered sugar. They're a popular treat in Eastern Europe and are so crunchy and irresistible!
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Total Time45 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Eastern European, Russian, Ukrainian
Servings: 8
Author: Kate

Ingredients

  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon melted unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons vodka - (or substitute with white rum)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour - sifted (you can sift right into the mixing bowl)
  • vegetable oil for deep frying - about 2-5 cups, depending on the size and shape of your pot
  • powdered sugar - to taste, for dusting

Special equipment

  • Fork or whisk
  • Plastic kitchen wrap
  • Large silicone mat or clean surface to roll out dough
  • Rolling Pin or pasta machine to roll out really thin sheets of dough
  • Medium pot or saucepan (for deep frying), I prefer using a saucepan with higher sides to prevent splashing
  • Spider strainer or tongs, or slotted metal spoon for removing cooked hvorost cookies from the hot oil
  • Large plates lined with paper towels

Instructions

  • In a large bowl, whisk together the egg and granulated sugar. Add the melted butter, vodka, and salt. Mix well.
  • Add the sifted flour, or add the flour through the fine mesh colander. Stir in the flour and mix well to make a dough. If needed, add a little bit of flour at a time, or a few drops of water at a time, to make a dense dough that is not sticky.
  • Divide the dough into 3-4 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball. Leave the dough balls in the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rest at room temperature for 30-40 minutes.
  • Work with 1 ball of dough at a time, leave the others covered to prevent them from drying out. Roll out the dough until very thin (about 1 mm), adding flour as needed to the rolling pin and the rolling surface to prevent dough from sticking. The thinner the dough, the crispier the cookies will be.
    Dough rolled out really thin
  • Cut the dough into about 1x3 inch pieces and decide on your desired shape. You can use a wavy-edge pasta cutter. You can make bow-ties by pinching in the center. You can make small 3-inch long parallelogram shapes, cut a hole in the middle, then tuck one corner through the hole. You can cut 3x1 inch rectangles and tie them up or wrap them together into a "rosette." Experiment with different shapes!
  • Set the cut pieces aside as you make them, dusting with flour as needed to prevent them from sticking to each other.
  • Prepare another plate lined with paper towels. This is where you'll put the fried hvorost.
  • Heat the vegetable oil in a pot. I like to add enough oil to a high saucepan to have about 3 inches of oil in the pot, but only if using a high-sided saucepan. Test whether the oil is hot enough by gently dropping a small piece of dough in. If small bubbles start to form right away, the oil is hot enough. If the oil starts bubbling very vigorously, the oil is a little too hot—turn the head down a bit.
  • Deep fry a few pieces at a time, taking care not to crowd the pan. Once the cookies are golden brown on one side, flip them over carefully using a heat-safe metal utensil and cook for a few more seconds. The hvorost cookies will fry quickly, so remove them using a spider strainer, tongs, or a slotted spoon as soon as they turn golden brown. Place on a paper towel to absorb excess oil.
  • Continue frying in small batches until all the cookies are fried. Allow to cool, then sprinkle with powdered sugar to serve. You can also place the cooled cookies into a large bowl, sprinkle with powdered sugar, shake the bowl, and then add more sugar on top.

Notes

How to store hvorost: Humidity is the worst enemy for hvorost. It causes the sugar to clump up and the hvorost to become less crisp. Keep cooled hvorost in a sealed container for up to 5 days in a dry climate. 
Recipe tips and substitutions:
→ This recipe might take some adjusting when you're making the dough. You might need to add more flour or a few drops of water. The most important thing for this recipe is to roll the dough out VERY thinly, so add as much flour as needed to prevent sticking.
→ If you want to omit alcohol, just skip it and use a little bit less flour, as needed.
→ Make ahead tips: You can make the dough ahead of time, double wrap it tight in plastic wrap, and either freeze it for up to 1 month or refrigerate for up to 2 days. Bring the dough to room temperature before rolling it out. You might need to knead in a bit more flour because of condensation.
The nutrition facts are just a rough estimate assuming 8 servings, and will depend on how much flour and sugar you add, as well as how much oil gets absorbed during cooking.

Nutrition

Calories: 386kcal (19%) | Carbohydrates: 28g (9%) | Protein: 4g (8%) | Fat: 28g (43%) | Saturated Fat: 0.2g (1%) | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.2g | Trans Fat: 0.003g | Cholesterol: 20mg (7%) | Sodium: 81mg (3%) | Potassium: 41mg (1%) | Fiber: 1g (4%) | Sugar: 5g (6%) | Vitamin A: 30IU (1%) | Calcium: 8mg (1%) | Iron: 2mg (11%)

The nutritional information displayed is an estimate and not to be used as dietary or nutritional advice. Consult a nutritionist or dietician for nutritional info based on the exact ingredients you use.

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