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Swedish Christmas Cookies: A Recipe To Make Pepparkakor

Nov 30, 2007
Christmas is a special time in Scandinavia and Sweden in particular. Tradition and Heritage are extremely important to Swedish culture and there are many traditions which are widely upheld.

In most traditional Swedish homes, the smell of home baked foods and desserts fill the air at Christmas time. The Swedes really love to cook and for many, the holiday season and the Christmas Eve celebration is the highlight of their year.

One recipe, which is very popular in Sweden, is for a cookie called the Pepparkakor.

Pepparkakor, literally translated, means "pepper cookies" but I've yet to see a recipe that included any pepper. They are similar to the American gingersnap cookie but they are generally thinner, crisper and smoother in texture.

Many refer to this cookie as a "ginger thin" and they are commonly called "gingernuts" in the United Kingdom.

Besides their great taste, pepparkakor cookies are used as Christmas decorations as well. They are frequently shaped like little men or women, pigs, hearts or goats. If left round, they are decorated with frosting to give them more character.

Using a drinking straw, you can create a small hole in the pepparkakor cookie prior to baking. After the cookie has cooled, tie the cookie to the Christmas tree with a beautiful white or red colored ribbon.

Swedish Christmas Cookies or Pepparkakor
Makes 2-3 dozen cookies (depending on shape/size)

Ingredients:

1/4 cup molasses
3/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
8 ounces butter
2/3 cup water
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 egg
1 tablespoon light (or dark) corn syrup
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda

Preparation:

The dough should be well-chilled before baking. You can either start a day early and chill overnight, or start preparing 1-2 hours before the cookies will be needed.

In a heavy pot, combine the molasses, sugars, spices and water. Turn the heat up and bring the mixture to a boil while stirring frequently.

Add the butter to the mixture (in pads or chunks) and remove the pot from the heat. Continue stirring the mixture until the butter has melted and the mixture is uniform in consistency. Pour the hot mixture into a large mixing bowl.

In another bowl, combine the flour, corn syrup, egg and baking soda and whisk until well-blended. Combine with the hot mixture and stir until the dough has formed.

Place the dough on a lightly floured board and knead for 1-2 minutes. Wrap the dough in waxed paper and chill until the dough is firm (1-2 hours or overnight).

On a lightly floured board, roll the dough out to about 1/8 inch in thickness (the thinner, the crisper) and either cut into shapes or make round cookies about 2 inches in diameter. Put the cookies on a lightly greased cookie sheet.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and bake for 8-10 minutes until they are golden brown.

Remove the cookie sheet from the oven and place them on a wire rack to cool.

About the only thing left to do is to enjoy these fabulous Swedish Christmas cookies with the ones you love... Enjoy!
About the Author
Holly Hallberg studied French and Art History at the Sorbonne and graduated from the American University of Paris. As a lover of modern Scandinavian design and architecture, Holly travels each year to find new Scandinavian Designers and the products they create. For modern Scandinavian design objects, furniture, clothing and toys, visit her online store at:
http://www.huset-shop.com
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