Russian Oven: Сhocolate pryaniki

Sweet and spicy, pryaniki are Russia's most beloved pastry.

Pryanikiare a sort of gingerbread, but their taste differs a lot from typical American or European spice cakes. These cookies originally made of rye flour and honey were seasoned with spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamon, cumin, or anise arriving aboard ships from India and with camelcades from Central Asia.

Russian gingerbread baking reached its heyday in the 18-19th century as pastry makers from Tula turned their local pryanik into a global trademark. Since then, these gingerbread cookies have become a symbol of Russia, popular among nobles and common folk alike. In the USSR they were a mass market hit and affordable for every family. 

Today we'll cook the modern version of this famous dainty featuring bitter chocolate, cocoa powder, and butter. You are very welcome to experiment and add your favorite spices.  

For our chocolate pryaniki, you will need:

  • 175g (1 cup) bitter chocolate
  • 75g (0.3 cup) butter
  • 120g (0.6 cup) sugar
  • 220g (1.8 cups) flour 
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 0.5 tablespoons baking powder
  • A pinch of salt

Here we go:

  • Break the chocolate bar into pieces and melt with butter over medium heat, then leave to cool
  • Whip the eggs with sugar in a separate bowl
  • Mix all dry ingredients, stir thoroughly  
  • Pour the chocolate blend into the egg mix. Stir before adding the dry ingredients in small portions
  • Mix the dough to a thick homogeneous mass, then put it in the fridge for 2 hours
  • Take the refrigerated dough and make 2.5 cm (1 inch) balls out of it. 
  • Roll the balls in powdered sugar and lay them out onto the baking pan (put baking paper on the bottom). Leave gaps between the balls
  • Slightly press down each ball
  • Bake for 10 minutes at 165C

The cookies are crusty on the outside, but soft on the inside. 

Enjoy!

Russian Oven is a video series devoted to Russian pastries, featuring traditional age-old pies and cakes, inventive cookies and tarts of recent years, plus Soviet classics and much more. Stay tuned!

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