Favorite cookies: Pepparkakor

These Swedish cookies are kind of like gingerbread, but thinner, crispier and with less of the heavy molasses flavor. I first made them in junior high, after I came home from an international food fair at school with a half sheet recipe for these hard-to-pronounce cookies. My mom wasn’t able to find the original recipe, so I poked around online and came up with this one. The spice flavor is definitely a little stronger, but it was as close as I could come to my recipe, which made cookies that were very light in color and very thin and crispy.

Unlike sugar cookies, the dough for these is much more finnicky. It tends to crumble and crack, so you have to be a little more careful. But when you smell the aroma of cardamom and cloves wafting from your oven, you’ll be glad you tried them.

You can frost them if you want, but we always ate them plain.

Pepparkakor

from allrecipes.com

3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 cup butter (2 sticks)
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons dark corn syrup

Combine the flour, baking soda, and spices in a mixing bowl.

Beat the butter with the white and brown sugars in a separate bowl until light and fluffy. Mix in the egg and corn syrup.

Gradually stir in the flour mixture. Divide the dough into 4 equal parts and wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least one hour.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Using 1 portion at a time, work on a floured surface and roll out dough to 1/8-inch thick. Cut into shapes with cookie cutters, and place 1 inch apart on lined baking sheets.

Bake until light golden brown, about 5-6 minutes.

——-

That is the end of my holiday cookie collection (at least for this year). There are others in my file, but I must get on the road to spend some time with my family, and finish frosting all the sugar cookies. I hope you get a chance to make any or all of these recipes. I will never forget all the Christmases I spent up to my elbows in flour, and I hope to have many more.

Here are the rest of the recipes, in case you missed them:

Sugar cookies
Chocolate Suzies
Peanut blossoms
The million dollar cookie
Candy stripe cookie sticks

Favorite cookies: Sugar cookies

Is there any more quintessentially Christmasy cookie than this? We always decorated ours with frosting out of a can, and I have to tell you after fussing with royal icing last night, I’m not sure that the fancy stuff is really better. Better looking, if you get it right. But who cares?

Anyway, here is the cookie recipe. It’s from my grandmother, the master baker (Mary Marie). It’s so buttery and wonderful. The cookies taste even better on the second or third day.

Sugar cookies

1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup butter (that’s one stick)
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
3 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons vanilla

Mix the dry ingredients in one bowl. I always whisk mine together instead of sifting, and you know, I think it works really well.

Cream the butter and shortening. Then mix in the sugar, eggs and vanilla.

Slowly combine the dry ingredients into the rest. At this point you will need to chill the dough for three hours, or overnight, if you can.

Once the dough is chilled, roll it out on a floured surface to about 1/4-inch thick (maybe even a little thinner), cut out your cookies and bake for 8-10 minutes at 400 degrees.

Just until the edges start to get browned.

Once the cookies have cooled, get to frosting!

Though this recipe is fantastic, I would add a few tips just to make sure you get the best result:

•I would divide the dough into fourths before you roll it. This makes a sheet that’s easy to work with.

•Flour absolutely everything. The surface, the rolling pin, even the spatula you use to scoop up cookies.

•Before you scoop the cutouts onto the cookie sheet, peel all of the in-between dough out and put it into a scrap pile.

•Put the scraps back into the fridge and start your next batch with chilled dough. When you have four re-chilled scrap piles, divide them in half and do two more rounds.

•Whatever I have left after that I usually just roll into balls, flatten into discs and have round cookies. If you overwork the dough too much it won’t have the same wonderful cookie texture.

•Just try to think of this like you would rolling pie crust. The colder the dough, the better. And if you get a tear from rolling too thin, just patch it up. No biggie.

As for frosting, I used the recipe that came in a can of meringue powder. You can also use Martha’s recipe for royal icing, here. I made mine way too thin, so I would hold back on some of the water next time.

This one came out beautifully, though.

Happy baking! One more recipe coming.