Aug. 7, 2021

Russia Week - Tart Bites: Pryaniki (Russian Spice Cookies)

Russia Week - Tart Bites: Pryaniki (Russian Spice Cookies)

How does coffee make a delicious tea cookie?

Settle in for a good read, a hot cuppa, and these delicious Russian spice cookies!

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Transcribed by; Lightly edited by Linda. Please forgive typos or grammar errors.

Episode 340 - Pryaniki


Linda 00:00

Welcome to Tart Words. I'm your host, Linda Hengerer. And I'm a writer, a reader, and a baker. I talk to writers about their latest book and what inspires them, chat with fellow author Suzanne Fox about what writers can learn from reading their favorite authors, and share fast and easy recipes for anyone looking for a sweet treat. Join me as I share Tart Bites, Tart Thoughts, and Tart Words. 

Today on Tart Bites, I'm sharing my recipe for Pryaniki, which are Russian spice cookies. 

I’m American, and am always interested in learning about food from other countries. I love trying new food, especially desserts. 

Cozy mystery writers often talk about food in general, and the food we incorporate into our stories and the recipes we share with readers.  

When I interviewed Emilya Naymark for the Tart Words podcast, we talked about Russian food and her favorite Russian treats. She’s not a cozy mystery writer but she is Russian, and she talked about Brighton Beach and the food available there. Brighton Beach is a neighborhood in Brooklyn near Coney Island that has a lot of Russian restaurants and markets. 

She mentioned Pryaniki and sent me the recipe that I changed a bit. See NOTE 1 below for what I changed.

I make gingerbread cupcakes every year at the holidays to send to friends and family, and found these cookies very similar in taste. These are soft cookies, not crunchy, and are delicious with coffee or tea. 


½ cup instant coffee (I use Café Bustelo; use your preferred instant coffee)

½ cup hot water

1 cup butter (2 sticks)

1 cup granulated sugar

1 ½ cups honey (12 oz)

½ tsp vanilla extract

½ tsp ground cinnamon

½ tsp ground clove

½ tsp ground ginger

¼ tsp ground nutmeg

2 eggs, beaten

1 ½ tsp baking soda, dissolved in 1 tsp white vinegar (this will fizz up)

1 ½ tsp baking powder

6 cups all purpose flour

Powdered sugar for dusting if not making a glaze


4 ½ cups powdered sugar

½ cup milk

NOTE 1: The original recipe called for ½ tsp allspice and ½ tsp anise extract; I omitted the anise extract and substituted cinnamon, clove, and ginger for the allspice. Use whatever spices you like and/or have on hand – this recipe is flexible.

NOTE 2: I didn’t glaze the cookies the first time I made them, just dusted the tops while they were on the cooling rack a couple of times as the cookies cooled. The warm cookies will absorb powdered sugar, so dust after they cool to keep a powdered sugar top.

NOTE 3: The cookie dough sits overnight before baking. I mixed these by hand in a large bowl.

NOTE 4: This recipe makes about 10 dozen cookies if making tablespoon-sized dough balls. Halve the recipe for about 5 dozen cookies.


In a medium pot, dissolve the instant coffee in the hot water. Add butter, sugar, and honey to the dissolved coffee and bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat. Stir occasionally until the sugar is dissolved and mixture is fully combined. Remove from the heat and pour into a large bowl, and let cool for 10-15 minutes. Stir occasionally to keep ingredients combined.

To the cooled mixture add vanilla and spices. Stir to combine.

Whisk in the beaten eggs, baking soda dissolved in vinegar, and baking powder. This will fizz in the bowl as you’re mixing it. 

Add the flour and mix with a wooden spoon until all the flour is incorporated.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and/or a kitchen towel. Set aside at room temperature for at least 4 hours or overnight.

When you’re ready to bake:

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Most likely you’ll need two or three baking sheets lined with parchment paper for this recipe.

Shape the cookie dough into balls; I used a small scoop to make tablespoon-sized balls and placed them on the baking sheet flat side down. If you use a regular spoon, roll the dough into balls before placing on the baking sheet. Leave about one inch all around since these cookies will spread as they bake. 

Bake for 20-25 minutes, taking care not to overbake. These cookies should be soft, not hard.

If you are glazing the cookies, mix up the glaze now. You can add extract to flavor the glaze if you like (vanilla, almond, mint, anise, etc.).

Dip cooled cookies into the glaze, letting excess drip back into the glaze. Place glazed cookies on a rack or parchment paper to dry. You can glaze the other side after the first side is dry, or glaze the tops only.

If the glaze starts to thicken, add a few drops of milk to loosen the glaze.

I didn’t glaze the cookies, just dusted the tops [with powdered sugar] several times to get a good coating on top as the cookies cooled. The warmth will melt the powdered sugar into the cookies, so one dusting when they are warm will not be visible.

Store the cookies at room temperature in a sealed container for up to two weeks. Freeze in an airtight container or plastic freezer bag for up to three months. Thaw cookies to room temperature before eating.

These cookies were delicious, and I sent most of them off with my husband for his annual golf trip. His golfing buddies enjoyed the cookies, and so did I. 

I’ll be adding these to my holiday baking rotation. They’re easy to make and this recipe makes a lot – perfect for sending treats at holiday time!

Linda 06:21

Thank you for joining me this week. To view the complete show notes and the links mentioned in today's episode, visit Follow now in the app you're using to listen to this podcast or sign up for email alerts through an easy signup form for bakers, readers, and writers at Thank you again for joining me, Linda Hengerer, for this episode of Tart Bites.