Pączki (or Paczki, as often written in English) are a type of Polish pastry that are filled with cream or confiture. Pączki are made of deep-fried dough in a circular or spherical shape and then filled. They are similar to doughnuts or German berliners, but they differ in the composition of their dough, which is much richer, containing yeast, eggs, butter, alcohol and sugar.
In Poland they are prepared especially on Fat Thursday, to celebrate Carnival, while in Polish communities in the US, they are prepared for Fat Tuesday and is called Pączki Day.
Pączki is the plural form of the word, while pączek is singular. Often, outside of Poland, pączki is mistakenly used as both the singular and plural form. Furthermore, it is often written as "paczki", without the ogonek (eg. ą) on the "a". The problem is that paczki written in this way is actually means "packages" in Polish.
The word pączek derives from the diminutive form of the word pąk, which in Polish means "bud", signifying the form of pączki and their filling.
The correct pronunciation of the word pączki in Polish can be phonetically transcribed in English as Pohnch-kee. The ogonek "a", ą, produces an "ohn" sound that is pronounced similarly to a nasal "n" as pronounced in the French language.