Sweden: Pepparkakor

There is no cookie that says "Christmas in Sweden" more than traditional Pepparkakor, commonly referred to as "ginger thins" or "gingernuts" in the UK. Although they are similar in taste to the United States' gingersnaps, they are very different cookies. Pepparkakor are generally spiced a bit heavier, with a smooth finish and are extremely thin -- approximately 1/8". Gingersnaps in the United States are usually drop cookies with crackes on the top and oftentimes a soft center.

Pepparkakor is an integral part of the Christmas feast in Sweden and is also used to decorate their Christmas trees. While you will usually see them in the shape of a heart, at the holidays they are also cut into pig and goat shapes. What? You don't know about the Christmas goat?

Swedish custom says that you should place a Pepparkakor in the palm of your hand. Then, make a wish. Using the index finger or thumb of your free hand, tap the cookie in the middle. Swedish tradition states that if the Pepparkakor breaks into three pieces, your wish will come true. If the Pepparkakor does not break into three pieces, well, you'll just have to enjoy eating the cookie in smaller pieces.
Pepparkakor (Ginger Thins)

2 tbs ground cinnamon
1 tbs ground ginger

1 tbs ground cloves
1 tsp ground cardamom
½ tsp allspice
1 tsp of salt
1 tbsp baking soda

1-1/4 cups unsalted butter
1-1/4 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cup brown sugar

1 small egg
the zest of 1/2 of one orange
1-1/3 cups golden syrup*
1-1/3 cups heavy cream
8-3/4 cups flour

Day one: Sift or whisk the spices and the baking soda together. Mix butter with the two sugars; add the spices and the egg. Add orange zest, golden syrup, cream and finally flour. Shape into several discs or logs. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Day two: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Using one piece of dough at a time, roll it out on a floured workface until very thin -- approximately 1/8". Dip cookie cutter in flour and cut out into desired shapes. Continue until all of the dough has been used.

Bake for 7 to 8 minutes, depending on size. Remove from baking sheets and put on wire racks to cool.

*If you can't find any golden syrup or treacle, substitute light, unsulphured molasses.
Thanks to Anne's Food for the recipe. Please visit her blog for modern-day Pepparkakor trivia!

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KayKat said...

Those cookies are *cute*! Can't wait to try them out.

giz said...

I don't think there's a cookie finer than Swedish ginger thins.

Diane said...

Pepparkakor are wonderful all year long but an absolute must during Christmas. Great blog.

kate said...

international cookies--what a great idea! love the blog!


Sorina said...

You have a very nice blog, good post...keep up the good job

White On Rice Couple said...

Your site is brilliant! We've been looking to expand our cookie knowledge to maybe a few countries, now we found so much more here! thanks for sharing the love of world cookies!

Marye said...

These delicious. I love ginger.

Jeena said...

Hi there my name is Jeena and I have started a food recipe forum that I thought you would like to join here Click here for food recipe forum

I would love to see you on there to chat about food and cooking you can talk about anything you like and start your very own topics. :-)

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Jeena x

Corinne said...

Love your blog!

Jj said...

Wow..never saw a cookie recipe quite like this...am very intrigued, thanks for sharing!

edamame said...

I am interested in the food culture of your country. And I support your site. If there is time, please come in my site.
From Japan

Abby said...

They're beautiful! They're very reminiscent of Moravian cookies - have you heard of Moravians? I'm one, and I live in the area settled by them. You should check out the oldsalem.org Web site and look for a recipe! I bet they're very similar.

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(Ros)Marina said...

Your blog is amazing! Finally I found this recipe. Thank you