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Paprenjak biscuit.jpg
Place of origin Croatia
Main ingredients Butter, sugar syrup or honey, eggs, walnuts or hazelnuts, black pepper, spices
Variations Pepparkakor, pfeffernüsse, piparkökur
Cookbook:Paprenjak  Paprenjak

Paprenjak[pronunciation?] are a traditional biscuit made in Croatia. This peculiar biscuit contains a unique mix of honey and black pepper. The main ingredients are sugar syrup or honey, butter or fat, eggs, nuts (walnuts, hazelnuts), pepper and various spices (clove, cinnamon, nutmeg). Apart from the ingredients, Paprenjak is unique with its mould-pressed motifs used to decorate the biscuit. (see picture)

The Croatian author August Senoa featured the biscuit in his novel "Goldsmith's gold" published in 1871:

“And thus it came to pass that she was called the Paprenjak lady: over the length and breadth of the city there was not a woman, noble or common, who could bake paprenjaks in the way that Magda knew. Day in and day out there was a run on her paprenjaks, and the city judge Ivan Blažeković himself was known to leave a pretty penny in her purse every so often.[1]

Croatian Tradition[edit]

The origins of paprenjak are unclear but they are known to have existed in the 16th century during the Renaissance. Traditionally, in older times, Croatian people made paprenjak throughout the year, and more lately it is a family tradition in many homes to make paprenjak for Christmas – an event in which the whole family would come together, mothers and grandmothers to make the dough and children to stamp out the paprenjak shapes for Christmas.

Traditionally, a square paprenjak is decorated with wooden press, embossing a pattern on the biscuit. These patterns were traditionally pagan and Christian symbols, such as fish, wheat or sun. Today paprenjak today takes on many shapes, such as gingerbread men, stars, trees, etc...

Paprenjak in Other Countries[edit]

Peppery biscuits are scattered across Europe, but are particular sought after in Germanic and Scandinavian countries. It's understood that a Croatian family moved to Sweden taking their grandmother Teresa with them and her delicious recipe for pepper cookies, Paprenjak.

Each country that has adopted Paprenjak have adjusted the recipe for their region's taste. Swedish biscuit called Pepparkakor contains orange flavours. The German biscuit Pfeffernusse contains aniseed, and the Icelandic biscuit called Piparkökur contains cardamom and paprika.


  1. ^ A. Šenoa, Zlatarovo Zlato (“The Goldsmith’s Gold”), Mladost, Zagreb 1973 p. 6

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