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Peparenjaci are something like a Croatian version of gingerbread cookies but with lots of black pepper as one of the main ingredients.
The history of paprenjak dates back to the Renaissance, and was mentioned by August Šenoa, a famous Croatian author, in his “Zlatarevo zlato.” Nowadays they are becoming more and more valuable and a Croatian symbol and one of the most popular souvenirs you can take home with you.
The recipe for these tasty cookies is straightforward, but when you combine together flour, walnuts, and honey with aromatic spices and pepper, you get something so unique and special that I think it’s really worth getting your kitchen messy for!
They are usually made at Christmas time although as a souvenir you can buy them in souvenir shops all year long. One of the main characteristics is that wooden mold which is used for shaping and which you can also buy as a souvenir.
They are best if made at least 10-15 days before eating as they get better and better while stored in an airtight container.
It seems good to mention that there are two different types od Paprenjak, one is from Hvar, and it doesn’t contain black pepper, and the other is from Zagreb, where pepper is what makes them so special.
Here is how to make Croatian paprenjaci. A kind of Croatian version of gingerbread cookies but with lots of black pepper as one of the main ingredients.
- 2 eggs
- 250 g sugar (1 1/4 cups)
- 250 g honey (3/4 cup)
- 250 g butter (2 sticks)
- 1 tablespoon pork fat
- 450 g walnuts (3 3/4 cups)
- 1 kg flour (7 cups)
- 3 tablespoons cinnamon, ground
- 1 tablespoon nutmeg
- 1 tablespoon pepper, ground
- 5-6 pieces of crushed or ground cloves
- 1 pinch of cardamom
- 1 lemon peel
- Whisk the butter and pork fat till it becomes foamy, add the other ingredients except for the flour, and combine well
- Then add the flour, little by little. Mix the dough that will form out of that mixture until it starts to fall off your fingers (it will take some time, but it pays off)
- Allow the dough to rest for 2 hours in the refrigerator, wrapped in cling film
- Place the dough between two pieces of parchment paper, and roll out the dough – do not add flour to the surface. Flip the dough over several times as you roll it. Roll to the thickness of about 1/2 cm, then using wooden molds or a glass, or another type of small cookie cutter, and cut out the cookies to your desired shape
- If you have the traditional wooden mold, gently press it over the dough, so it shapes the different textures and then use the knife to cut out the cookies (as the wooden mold doesn’t cut them all the way trough)
- Place the cookies on a greased and dusted pan and bake over a moderate heat of 180°C (350°F). When they turn golden, they are done, it usually takes around 8-12 minutes
Store the paprenjaci in a cookie jar or another airtight container for at least 10 days before serving
Tasty Croatian Recipes & Cooking Tips