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!
Sweden, Swedish recipes, international recipes, cookie recipes, cookies, baking