The Seasoned Franciscan - Cooking Joyfully

Pepperkaker Cookies

By Michael Krueger (Seasonal) on Monday, January 2nd 2023

Old Fashioned Pepperkaker

Ingredients:
2 C sugar
3/4 C plus 2 T butter
1/3 C light syrup*
2/3 C heavy cream
1 T cognac (optional) brandy, wine or sherry also work well
4 tsp ginger
4 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp black pepper
4 tsp cloves, crushed *
1 T baking soda
6 -7 C flour

Directions:

  1. In a large saucepan, add the sugar, butter and syrup. Stir together and heat until melted. Set aside to cool.
  2. Once the mixture has cooled down a bit, stir in the heavy cream and cognac, if using.
  3. Add the spices, baking soda and a little flour at a time to the mixture. Check the dough just before you have added 6 C flour. You want a smooth and relatively firm dough, so you may not use all of the flour.
  4. Take the dough out of the pan, cover with plastic and place in the refrigerator for at least a couple of hours, preferably overnight.
  5. Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Allow the dough to stand at room temperature for a little while before rolling out the dough. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  6. On a lightly floured surface, roll out pieces of the dough to a thickness of about 0.5 cm (even slightly less) and cut into shapes as desired. Place on a prepared baking sheet.
  7. Bake in the center of the oven for about 10-12 minutes. You want the edges to brown a little and crisp up. Cool on a wire rack.
  8. You can decorate the pepperkaker with icing or powdered sugar or anything else your heart desires. Store in cookie tins and enjoy!

Notes:
*Syrup (or sirap) in Norway is made from sugar beets, not corn. It is a kind of light liquid molasses syrup with a caramel flavor. Therefore, you may substitute light syrup with golden syrup (like Lyle’s Golden Syrup). It is possible to use corn syrup, but light syrup in Norway is fairly thin and sweet with a taste of brown sugar. Alternatively, you can swap in some molasses for a darker color and deeper taste.

*You may crush whole cloves rather than use ground cloves. Crushed cloves are more coarse, which gives some texture and a more pronounced flavor. Adds to that rustic feel.

Story: “This recipe is one which I have made the last few years for Christmas,” said Director of Affiliation Michael Krueger. “It is a Norwegian gingerbread recipe. Due to freshly ground cloves and pepper, it has a spicier taste to it. Using either molasses or light syrup, you can create a darker or lighter dough when preparing the cookies.”

Pepperkaker means “pepper cookies.” In Sweden, pepperkaker is eaten at Christmas and during Fika, meaning at any coffee break. It is also often served with Glögg which is Swedish mulled wine. They also taste great with milk! It is also very common to make pepperkakshus or gingerbread houses. They are made with a template for walls and roof and are thicker so the parts are easier to assemble with melted sugar and decorated with icing and candy. The Swedish Architecture and Design Center in Stockholm have hosted yearly competitions where children, architects and designers compete. So, Pepperkaker are taken seriously in Sweden!

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