I have such fond memories of pierniczki (spicy Polish gingerbread). When I was a kid, Saturday morning always meant a catechism class and a visit to the meat market – namely Zagreb, formerly on North Main. There, we would get various meats, fresh buns and sweet Polish treats. I loved when we would get a bag of chocolate covered pierniczki… spicy, chewy, heart-shaped gingerbread cookies covered in a thin layer of dark chocolate.
I’ve owned the cookbook “From a Polish Country House Kitchen” for a couple of years now, and decided that pierniczki should be the first recipe that I make, especially since we’re approaching Christmas.
So, let’s jump to it: THESE COOKIES ARE DELICIOUS!
The recipe is easy to follow, and offers a nice introduction about the history of said cookie. (Traditionally, they are Christmas tree ornaments.) However, I did not read the recipe in its entirely before I headed into my kitchen to make these cookies on Sunday evening. The recipe calls for leaving the dough covered and on the counter for 24-48 hours!
This is the neatest cookie dough I have ever worked with: it reminds me of Play-Doh! Not sticky at all, soft and moist. As for the cookies themselves? Soft, spicy, just so good. (Note: The recipe suggests 3 dozen cookies shall be made, but I was able to crank out nearly 6 dozen since I used a smaller cookie cutter.)
Be aware that your kitchen will smell like a chai tea latte as these cookies bake. Win!
Pierniczki (Gingerbread Cookies)
Makes about 3 dozen cookies, depending on the size
1 1/4 cups unsalted butter
1/2 cup honey
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tbsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp ground cloves
2 tbsp ground nutmeg
2 tbsp ground ginger
Pinch of salt & pepper
2 tbsp peeled and minced fresh ginger
1 tbsp vanilla extract
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
6 large eggs, at room temperature
Dried fruit, sliced almonds, confectioners’ sugar or sprinkles for decorating
In the microwave, melt the butter and honey. Pour into a large mixing bowl. Add the brown sugar and vegetable oil, and stir. Add the cocoa powder, spices, salt and pepper, fresh ginger and vanilla. Mix well and let cool for a few minutes.
Add flour, baking soda and baking powder. Stir in the eggs. Mix well, first with a wooden spoon and then by hand. Mold the dough into a ball, cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for 24 hours (or up to 48 hours, if you don’t want to make them right away.)
When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 300F.
Roll out the dough on an unfloured counter as thin as it will go without breaking, and cut into shapes. Now decorate! To make the decorations stay on better, lightly roll over each cookie with a rolling pin before placing on an ungreased cookie sheet.
If these are really thin, they should bake only 7 to 8 minutes. Thicker cookies will bake 10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. Store in airtight containers for up to 10 days.
Adapted from ‘From a Polish Country House Kitchen: 90 Recipes for the Ultimate Comfort Food‘ Hardcover – November 21, 2012 by Anne Applebaum (Author), Danielle Crittenden (Author), Bogdan & Dorota Bialy (Photographer)