Most European countries have their version of the pepper, or spice cookie. Eaten during winter, preferably with a cup of mulled wine, if Christmas had a taste, it would be this humble biscuit. Even our western gingerbread is a variant on this.
These pepper cookies are special though. For a traditional Croatian paprenjac, you need a special wooden stamp that usually comes with six traditional folk designs, three on each side, for stamping into the rolled out dough.
You can get these online or in Croatia, but keep in mind without the stamp, it’s not really a paprenjac. You can also get the stamps (as per mine) in Christmas motifs, prefect for the season. And if you really want a traditional Croatian Christmas, before baking, make a little hole in the top and when done, thread a piece of red ribbon through to hang off the tree!
- 450 grams continental flour, sifted
- 180 grams unsalted butter, softened
- 150 grams caster sugar
- 150 grams walnuts, ground
- One (1) egg
- Three (3) egg yolks
- Two (2) tablespoons of honey
- Half a teaspoon of pepper, finely ground
- One (1) tablespoon of cinnamon, finely ground
- Half a teaspoon of cloves, finely ground
- Half a teaspoon of nutmeg, finely ground
- Sift flour and combine in a large mixing bowl with the softened butter. Rub the flour and butter together until you get a sawdust-like mixture
- Combine all the other ingredients with the flour mixture and use your hands to knead into a dough.
- Leave the dough to set for one hour in a cool place.
- Pre-heat the oven (fan-forced) to 180 degrees C.
- Once the dough is ready, roll it out onto a board, keeping it no thinner than about 6-7mm. Dust the paprenjaci stamp with plain flour, knocking the excess flour out and stamp the motifs into the rolled out dough.
- A good tip is the cut the three cookies as soon as you stamp them. If you keep stamping, the dough presses into the already pressed cookies and changes their shape. So with one stamp, use a knife to cut around the rectangle shape and place onto a baking sheet with baking paper.
- Place these in the oven for around 15 minutes or until they start to get slightly golden.
- Leave to cool and enjoy!
Let me know if you tried these Croatian peppery treats and what you thought? They really are the taste of Christmas!
Dobar Tek! Zivjeli! (Bon Appetit! Cheers and let’s live!)