Christmas is here, and it’s time for Peter to dust off his Swedish cook book and make pepparkakor, a traditional Swedish ginger cookie. Peter has fond memories of his mom making home-made pepparkakor as a child, and now he’s instilling those memories in our boys. Every year he collects all of the ingredients together, with a quick run to IKEA for any missing items, and then he creates a massive mound of pepparkakor dough that will chill overnight before he starts rolling out dozens and dozens of cookies. The secret of pepparkakor is their thin, crispness. While Americans like a thick, cakey gingerbread cookie, the Swedes like thin, crisp little wafers with no decorations or icing. Now days, you can buy prepared pepparkakor dough in Sweden, but Peter still does it the old-fashioned way.
In Sweden, hosts and moms set out dishes of pepparkakor during the holidays for a little treat, and they’re especially good served with glögg, a traditional hot spiced wine. All during the month of December, the Swedes celebrate the holidays with glögg gatherings, during which they serve tiny, steaming cups of spicy red wine with raisins and almonds. And it’s essential to serve this festive drink with a tray of pepparkakor.
Here’s my husband’s recipe for pepparkakor. I hope you enjoy the holidays!
- 10.6 oz (300 grams) dairy free margarine
- 2 cups sugar
- 1/3 cup & 1 tablespoon (1 dl) light syrup (see note)
- 1 tablespoon ginger
- 2 tablespoons cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon cloves
- 2 teaspoons fine cardamom
- 1 tablespoon baking-soda
- ¾ cup + 2 tablespoons (2 dl) water
- 6 cups flour
- Mix room temperature dairy free margarine with the sugar and the syrup until smooth, it is recommended to use an electric whisk.
- Mix in the spices and the baking soda, then the water and then some of the flour, so that the dough is not too sticky.
- Remove the dough from the bowl and mix in the rest of the flour on a baking table or counter top. When the dough is done, wrap it in foil and let it rest for 24 hours in the refrigerator.
- Remove a little bit of the dough at a time, roll it thin (use more flour as needed so that it doesn’t stick to the counter or the roller, but not too much which will make the cookies hard), then use whatever shapes you want to cut the cookies.
- Take a little bit of margarine on a paper towel, to lightly grease the baking sheets before I put the cookies on them, it is typically enough to just do that once.
- Put the sheets in the middle of the oven for about 5 minutes or until the cookies have a light brown color. Oven temperature should be around 390 F.
This isn’t maple syrup, it’s a sweet, cooking syrup. You can buy this at a Swedish food store or even IKEA. If you can’t find it, the closest thing we have to it is light corn syrup.