Paprenjaci – Croatian Pepper Cookies

Hello friends and happy holidays! I know, I know – it was MAY since I’ve posted my last recipe which totally bums me out because I miss my blogging community, but 2019 has brought TONS of change into my life that I’ll save for another blog post. However, I will say one of my 2020 intentions is to get back on track with spreading the baking love more frequently again. 🙂

2019 marks the 4th year in a row that I have shared my favorite Christmas tradition with you all – our annual Croatian Christmas Cookie baking day. If you’re a new visitor to Baking with Soul, check out this post to learn more about where it all started!

If you’ve been following along this blog journey with me, you now know that every year I experiment with adding a new Croatian recipe to the mix, and this year it’s Paprenjaci – also known as a Croatian Pepper Cookie. According to interwebs, while the exact origins of this cookie are unclear, it’s believed that Paprenjaci began in the Renaissance period and were often decorated with molds representing pagan and Christian symbols such as fish, wheat or suns. What I loved most about researching this cookie, was the stories about how grandmothers, mothers and daughters began baking this cookie together for a Christmas tradition, which is spot on to the tradition that I share with my family.

Just like the Madjarica recipe, this Paprenjaci recipe is definitely making the permanent Christmas recipe list – I LOVE this cookie! It reminds me of a Croatian version of a gingerbread or pumpkin-spice cookie due to the similar spices, however the Paprenjaci has a beautiful infusion of honey and pepper that make this cookie so unique, savory and delicious!

This cookie is typically decorated with a press mold which I did not have. So I got creative and chose molds that are used in a Spritz cookie press. I also used my grandmothers scalloped edge rolling tool to create the edges by cutting these into squares. Once I cut out the squares, I pressed the molds into each cookie to get the desired effect of the traditional press mold that would typically be used.

Before we jump into the recipe, be sure to check out all of my favorite Christmas cookie recipes here that are sure to be a party pleaser:

Prep Time: 30 minutes // Inactive Time: 2 hours  // Cook Time: 15 minutes // Yield: ~30 cookies

Paprenjaci Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 egg
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 cups ground walnuts
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/ 4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  1. In a large bowl, combine flour, walnut meal, salt and spices and set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, combine egg and egg yolks and beat well, then set aside.
  3. Using a stand or hand mixer, combine sugar and butter and mix until light and fluffy. Then add the eggs and honey and mix until well-combined.
  4. Add dry ingredients in two parts, mixing well. Then remove the dough and wrap in plastic to place in the fridge for 2 hours.
  5. Preheat oven to 375 F then prepare a cookie sheet with non-stick paper or foil.
  6. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to about 1/4″ thick. Use a stamp, mold or cookie cutter to achieve your desired cookie design.
  7. Using a roller tool or sharp knife, cut out each cookie and place on prepared cookie sheet then bake for 15 minutes until golden brown. Remove the cookies and allow to cool on a cooling rack.

Serve when cooled with milk, coffee or tea, or store in an air-tight container until ready to serve, enjoy!

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