One of the things I love most about living abroad is learning new Swedish recipes and traditions.
I love baking and I especially enjoy making delicious Swedish desserts, cakes and cookies. It will come as no surprise that one of the first things I bought when I moved here was a recipe book called “Swedish Cakes and Cookies” or “Sju Sorters Kakor” in Swedish.
As we approach the holiday season, I’ve been especially excited to bake some traditional pepparkakor. For those of you who are unfamiliar with pepparkakor, they are essentially Swedish gingersnaps. They can be found in most supermarkets year-round, but they’re especially popular around the holidays, where they’re cut into symbolic Christmas shapes, like dala horses, hearts and pigs.
I thought I’d share with you my absolute favourite pepparkakor recipe that will leave your house smelling like Christmas. After all – who doesn’t love homemade cookies around the holidays?
This recipe has been adapted from “Skansen’s Christmas Gingerbread Cookies”, found in the book “Swedish Cakes and Cookies”.
Yields approx. 100 cookies
Oven temp: 400°F (200°C)
- 2/3 cup (1 1/2 dl) light or dark corn syrup
- 1 1/4 cups (3 dl) dark brown sugar
- 3/4 cup (200 g) stick margarine or butter
- 1 large egg
- 2 tsps ground cloves
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp orange zest
- 1 1/2 tsps baking soda
- 3 1/3 cups (8 dl) all-purpose flour
- In a small saucepan, heat the syrup to boiling.
- In a large bowl, combine butter with dark brown sugar. Pour the boiling syrup over the sugar and butter and stir until mixture is cold.
- Add the eggs, spices and orange zest.
- Stir the baking soda into 1 teaspoon cold water, then add to mixture.
- Slowly add in the flour until mixture is well combined. Knead the dough well.
- Cover and let rest at room temperature overnight.
- On a floured surface, roll the dough into a thin sheet. Cut out desired shapes with cookie cutters and place on parchment-lined baking sheets.
- Bake on center oven rack for around 8 minutes.
These cookies can be stored for up to 4 weeks in an airtight container.
Tip: when rolling out the dough, it should be very thin. Lightly flour your rolling pin often to prevent the dough from sticking to it.
You can enjoy these delicious cookies as is or topped with some royal icing. Or, if you’re feeling extra adventurous, you can do like the Swedes do and top them with blue cheese.
Regardless, I recommend enjoying your pepparkakor alongside a warm glass of Swedish mulled wine, called glögg – it doesn’t get much better than that around the holidays!