Pryaniki are a lovely spiced honey cookie from Russia. Most often eaten, I believe, around Christmas time. The name comes from Pyrani, which is Russian for spicy. They comes in different guises, as some are filled with a jelly/jam mixture and others, such as the ones I am making are simply domed and covered with an icing. The mixture of spices used also differs between recipes, but seem to use a mixture of all spice, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves and cardamom among others. I also saw one recipe which used ground anise. That gave me an idea for my sugar icing, I thought I would add some anise extract to the icing for an extra flavour hit.
These cookies are very similar to the German favourite, Pfeffernusse, even down to the icing on the top.
Although I started off with 375g of flour, I didn’t think the mixture was thick enough after combining all the ingredients, even though I know that after chilling it would be much more solid, so I added an additional 50g of flour, in two additions. That gave me a thicker and very sticky dough which when chilled was just perfect for forming into balls for baking. So for the recipe below I have added in the extra flour that I used.
The mixture needs to be chilled for at least four hours, and even overnight would be fine, before the cookies can be shaped.
My recipe will make about 54 cookies (18 grams each dough ball)and the good thing is that they freeze well. So they can be made in advance of Christmas and then simply thawed on the day you wish to eat some.
The texture is rather cake-like, and the lovely rich sweet and spicy flavour is really very good indeed. I was very pleased with how mine turned out.
Pryaniki – Russian Spiced Honey Cookies – Video
For the cookies:
- 425g(3 cups + 3 good tbsp) plain flour
- 255g(3/4 cup) honey
- 100g (1/2 cup) caster or granulated sugar
- 113g(1 stick) butter
- 1 medium egg(large in USA)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp cocoa powder(or coffee powder according to taste)
- 60ml(1/4 cup)hot water
- 1/2 tsp all spice powder
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 1/2tsp ground cardamom
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- 3/4 tsp baking powder
- 3/4 tsp baking soda
- 3/4 tsp white vinegar
For the icing: (You made need more, depending on thickness)
- 250g(2 cups) icing sugar
- 55ml(scant 1/4 cup) milk
- 1/2 tsp anise extract(optional)
- Pour the water into the cocoa(or coffee) powder and mix to dissolve.
- Add the butter, honey, sugar and vanilla extract and heat until all is dissolved and mixed together.
- Allow to cool for about 15 minutes.
- Mix all the spices and the baking powder into the flour.
- Pour the melted mixture into a large bowl(I used stand mixer but by hand is good too).
- Add the egg and mix together.
- Add the white vinegar to the baking soda and it will immediately start to froth, add to the mixture and mix to combine.
- Add the flour and spices, in about three additions, and mix until all is combined into a thick and very sticky mass.
- Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 4 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 170C/150C Fan/325F.
- Line a couple of baking sheets with parchment paper(I had to bake in batches, so did it twice).
- Take tablespoons full of dough and roll into a ball, placing on the baking trays and leaving a gap between each to allow for some spreading.
- Bake in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes. Do not over bake or the cookies will be hard rather than a soft internal texture.
- Remove from the oven and cool completely.
- Pour the milk and anise(if using) into the icing sugar and mix until you have a smooth icing.
- Dip each of the cookies into the icing , completely coating the top, and then place on a wire rack to allow the icing to set.