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Russian Pryaniki (Honey Spice Cookies)

Russian Pryaniki are irresistible honey spice cookies that can satisfy any sweet tooth! The base of these delicious honey cookies is a simple caramel made with just sugar, water, honey and butter!

When we go grocery shopping, Viktor is always on the lookout for something sweet to eat with his daily tea. He’s also constantly expressing his dissatisfaction with the cookie selection available here in the states, which means that every time we come across a Russian grocery store, we have to buy these russian spice cookies or pryaniki (пряники) in bulk. While there were several stores carrying Russian products in Boston and even a few in Nebraska, we’ve spent the last month at a cabin in the Ozarks with no access to these gingerbread-like treats. So when we met a man selling jars of honey at a roadside stand a few weeks ago, I knew it was finally time to try and make my own pryaniki!

baked pryaniki

While you can find pryaniki filled with jam and even giant ornately decorated pryaniki in Russia, I opted for a simpler cookie that has Viktor hoping we never go back to the packaged version. Flavored with honey and spiced with cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg, these irresistible spice cookies are crunchy on the outside, but incredibly soft and sweet on the inside. While I also covered my spice cookies in an easy glaze, you could definitely omit this step as these cookies are packed full of flavor!

The base of these cookies is an easy homemade caramel sauce made with just sugar and water and then enhanced with butter and honey. To make the caramel, heat the sugar and water over medium heat. While you can stir the mixture at the beginning of the process to make sure the sugar is evenly distributed, it’s best to not touch the pan once the mixture comes to a boil as stirring can cause the sugar to crystallize. However, if your caramel looks like it might be cooking unevenly, you can swirl the pan occasionally. Keep an eye on the mixture as it thickens and bubbles, as the caramel can go from light brown to burnt extremely quickly! Once the caramel turns a deep amber color, immediately remove it from heat. Next, add the butter and stir it vigorously to make sure it’s fully incorporated. Be very careful during this step and take care to keep your hands away from the pot as the caramel may bubble and steam when adding the butter. Finally, stir in the honey and pour your delicious caramel into a heatproof bowl to cool!

And if you’re loving this pryaniki recipe, make sure to check out our other favorite Russian and Ukrainian fare:

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baked pryaniki

Russian Pryaniki Recipe


  • Author: Brit Kapustina
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: 32
    • Prep Time: 20 minutes
    • Cook Time: 30 minutes
    • Category: Dessert
    • Method: Baking
    • Cuisine: Russian

Ingredients

Pryaniki

  • 1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
  • ½ cup (120 ml) water
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup (optional)
  • ½ cup (110 grams) honey
  • 6 tablespoons (80 grams) unsalted butter
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ tablespoon baking powder
  • 3 cups (360 grams) all purpose flour, spooned and leveled*

Glaze

  • 1 cup (120 grams) powdered sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 23 tablespoons milk
  • 1.5 teaspoons vanilla or almond extract

Instructions

Pryaniki

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C) and prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Add the sugar, water and corn syrup (if using) to a saucepan and place on the stove over medium heat.
  3. Stir the mixture until the sugar is mostly dissolved and evenly distributed. Once the sugar is dissolved and the mixture begins to boil, the saucepan should be left alone, as stirring may cause the mixture to crystallize.
  4. When the mixture turns a deep amber, remove from heat. Add the butter and stir vigorously. Be very careful, as the caramel will bubble!
  5. Stir in the honey until incorporated and then pour into a heatproof bowl and let cool for 20 minutes.
  6. Stir in the cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt.
  7. Add the egg and mix until combined.
  8. Stir in the baking powder.
  9. Add the flour one cup at a time and mix until the dough is smooth and pliable. If the dough is still quite sticky and difficult to work with, you can chill it first. To chill the dough, form it into a disc and cover with plastic wrap. Place in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
  10. Shape the dough into balls using about one tablespoon (20 grams) of dough for each cookie. Place on the prepared baking sheet, leaving an inch (2.5 cm) between each cookie.
  11. Bake for 12-15 minutes. Allow to cool on the pan for 10 minutes. Then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Glaze

  1. Add the powdered sugar, salt and extract to a bowl.
  2. Add milk one tablespoon at a time until you reach your desired consistency.
  3. Once the pryaniki have cooled, dip each cookie in the glaze and place on a baking rack to dry.

Keywords: pryaniki recipe, russian gingerbread

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3 comments

Alexis November 23, 2023 - 2:37 pm

I’ve made this recipe 2-3 times through the year and I’ve had the same issues enough that I want to ask how to fix them:

1) When I’m adding flour, all 3 cups look like too much. After ~2 cups added gradually it looks like the dough won’t be able to take any more (and I just bake it with the 2 cups). At first I thought it was because of the discrepancies between grams and cups, but today I measured grams by weight and had the same problem. Is it normal to look like super floury?

2) When I’m shaping the cookies, I’ll feel a couple of sharp pieces of hardened caramelized sugar. They melt away of course, but leave behind slimy ghosts that make the cookies look ugly. How to I prevent the caramel from hardening in this way?

Thank you in advance for any help. I really loved this recipe despite my problems with it (I’m a baking newbie!), it reminds me of small lebkuchen — which is my next goal once I’ve mastered this!

Reply
Brit Kapustina November 27, 2023 - 5:49 pm

Hey Alexis! Thanks so much for writing in – let’s see if we can figure this out!

1) I just recently tested this recipe and can confirm I used all 3 cups of flour (about 360 grams when spooned and leveled). Here’s what I think happened: because some of your caramel hardened, there wasn’t enough liquid to absorb the full amount of flour. Which brings me to your second question:

2) There definitely shouldn’t be hardened pieces of caramelized sugar so let’s get your caramel up to par! Caramel can be tricky. My favorite method to make it easier is to add a bit of corn syrup to the sugar and water (I’ve added this optional step in the recipe instructions). Corn syrup contains glucose, which interferes with the formation of sugar crystals – meaning it makes your syrup MUCH less likely to crystallize and harden. This should get you the full amount of syrup!

A few additional tips:
– Always use a kitchen scale (just like you did!) as it’s super easy to overmeasure flour with cups.
– The dough should be pliable and not overly dry. Use 1/4-1/2 cup (30-60 grams) less flour if needed.

Let me know how it goes! And I love lebkuchen – good choice!

Reply
faye February 8, 2024 - 5:20 am

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