Black Pepper Cookies (Paprenjaci) are traditional Croatian cookies dating back to 16th century during the Renaissance. They are made with honey, walnuts, black pepper and spices like cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. Paprenjaci are square-shaped and decorated with mold-pressed motifs with symbols such as fish, wheat, sun, fruit and flowers. In old times they were baked throughout the year, but nowadays it is a family tradition in many Croatian homes to make them for Christmas.
I was a bit scared working with wooden molds because I thought it would be complicated. But, actually, it was pretty easy. The most important thing is to dust the dough with some flour before pressing the mold, so that it does not stick. If you don’t have wooden molds – don’t worry. You can cut Black Pepper Cookies with your regular cookie cutters.
These cookies can be stored for up to 6 weeks, kept in an airtight container. In time they will become softer.
- 450 g (3½ cups) flour
- 180 g (1½ stick or ½ cup + 4 Tbsp) lard or margarine
- 150 g (3/4 cup) sugar
- 2-3 Tbsp honey
- 1 egg, whole
- 3 egg yolks
- 150 g (1½ cups) walnuts, ground
- 2 tsp gingerbread spice (or your own blend of cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg)
- 1 tsp black pepper
- a pinch of salt
- Combine all ingredients to make a dough. Put in refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours.
- Put the dough on a floured board. Roll about 5-7 mm (1/5 - ¼ inch) thick and lightly dust with flour. Stamp with a wooden mold and cut with a knife. If you don’t have a mold, cut cookies with cookie cutters.
- Put on greased baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes in 200 C (390 F) oven. Serve with tea, cocoa or eggnog.
Ice-cream is exquisite. What a pity it isn’t illegal.