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Maria

Swedish Gingersnaps (Pepparkakor)

by Maria on December 13, 2013

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This time of year in Sweden no home is complete without gingersnap cookies, preferably homemade. The baking of “pepparkakor” signifies that the Christmas season is in full swing. I have fond memories of making pepparkakor with my mom and sisters. My mom had so many different cookie cutter shapes, gingerbread men and women, pigs, stars, and hearts.

This recipe makes a lot of cookies—300 according to my cookbook! Try halving the recipe if you have never made them before. It’s also a good idea for beginners to have a practice round before involving the kids. But definitely involve your kids or friends. It’s a lot of fun and will get everyone in the Christmas spirit. (And it will take too long to make all the cookies by yourself!)

A few additional tips:

  • I find it easiest to make this in a stand up mixer, but if you do this you may want to make ½ of the recipe at a time to ensure you don’t overload your mixer. I have included the ingredient amounts needed to make half of this recipe after the first recipe. You can also make them in a regular mixing bowl with an elecric whisk.
  • The dough needs to be chilled in the refrigerator for at least one night, so plan ahead when making this recipe. The good news is that once you have made the dough it will keep tightly wrapped in plastic for a couple of weeks and you can take out a little dough at a time, if you don't end up making it all at once (which I never do).
  • The dough should be almost at room temperature when rolling and cutting the cookies, so plan ahead and take it out about an hour or so before cookie making. If you try making the cookies with cold dough the dough will be more crumbly and less elastic.
  • When rolling out the cookies, start with about ¼ of the dough or even less—anything more than that will be too difficult to work with. 
  • Younger children may need help to roll the dough and transfer the cut shapes to a cookie sheet, but all kids should be able to use the cookie cutters to make fun shapes.
  • This dough is free of eggs, so feel free to let the kids have a taste—just realize it may be very hard to have just one taste. (At least for me it is!)
  • Finally, have patience. It takes practice to get the perfectly shaped, thin, crisp pepparkaka. 

This recipe is adapted from, Tant Harriet’s Pepparkakor (Aunt Harriet’s Gingersnaps) from the classic Swedish cook book, Vår Kokbok.  It’s the recipe my mom uses and she has made many, many pepparkakor.  Last time I made these I actually didn’t have enough white all-purpose flour, so I ended up using white whole wheat for about one-third of the flour. Lucky for me, the cookies turned out great, and with a little added whole grain to boot. The below recipe is also slightly different from the original because I had to translate the measurements from metrics to American cooking units—hence the random extra tablespoons here and there.

 

Swedish Gingersnaps (Pepparkakor)

 

Makes 300 cookies (Scroll down past pictures for ingredient amounts needed to make a half batch.)

 

300 grams butter (2 sticks + 5 tablespoons) at room temperature

2 cups + 2 tablespoons sugar

7 tablespoons (just under ½ cup) light syrup (I like Lyle’s Golden Syrup)

1 tablespoon ground ginger

2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon ground cloves

2 teaspoons ground cardamom

1 tablespoon baking soda

¾ cup + 1 tablespoon water

6 cups + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (you can sub white whole wheat flour for 1/3)

 

  1. Add all the ingredients, except about 1 cup of the flour, to the bowl of a larger mixer. Mix on low to medium speed until well combined.  
  2. Empty the dough onto a work surface and add the last bit of flour. Form into a ball and wrap with plastic wrap. Place in the refrigerator for at least one night.
  3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  4. Working on a lightly floured work surface, take a small chunk of the dough that has been warmed to almost room temperature. Knead it a bit and form it into a ball. Roll it out until it’s very thin (thinner than your average sugar cookie). Every now and then lift the rolled dough up from the table and make sure it’s not sticking to the work surface. Add a little more flour to the work surface or rolling pin as necessary.
  5. When the dough has been rolled thin, use the cookie cutters to press out shapes. When you have filled the dough with shapes, peel away the surrounding dough. Transfer the cut shapes onto a cookie sheet.
  6. Bake for 3.5 - 5 minutes. Keep a close eye on the cookies as they can burn quickly.
  7. Let the cookies cool a bit on the baking sheet and then transfer them to a wire rack to cool more. They should be thin and crispy when cooled.
  8. Repeat with the remaining dough. Wrap any unused dough in plastic and transfer it back to the refrigerator for another day.

 

Peeling away the surrounding dough after pressing out cookie shapes:

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Cookies ready to go in the oven:

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After baking:

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Lots of cookies ready to eat! (But more than 3/4 of dough awaits for another baking session!

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Ingredients needed to make half of the recipe:
 
150 grams butter (about 1 ½ sticks) at room temperature
1 cup + 1 tablespoon sugar
3.5 tablespoons (just under ¼ cup) light syrup (I like Lyle’s Golden Syrup)
½ tablespoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
½ tablespoon ground cloves
1 teaspoons ground cardamom
½ tablespoon baking soda
6.5 tablespoons water
3 cups + 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour (you can sub white whole wheat flour for 1/3)
 
Follow the instructions as above, except save just 1/2 cup of flour in step one. 


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