Sunday, November 21, 2004


Today is the day for for IMBB #10, Cookie swap! IMBB stands for Is My Blog Burning?, an international blogging event started by Alberto from Il Forno. It’s great fun – every month, someone will host a different theme, and bloggers from all over the world join in

This is my first time, and it charmingly coincided with my kitty Ywette’s upcoming birth. I made these on Wednesday night, which was a couple of days before she actually gave birth (Friday morning) but she was getting very upset every time I left her alone. She finally gave up – because baking cookies takes some time – and decided to just hang out in the kitchen with me.

Cookies is a great theme, and I thought about many different ones before I decided on a recipe. I wanted to make cut-out cookies, not so much because I like making them, but because I like having made them. There’s a fine difference there.

I finally chose Pepparkakor, or “Ginger thins” as they’re usually called in other parts of the world. Pepparkakor is a very traditional Swedish Christmas cookie, but sold all year round. It’s in fact so common that very few people bake their own anymore. There’s even ready-made dough you can buy! (And that is a big deal in Sweden, since we normally don’t have cookie dough. Definitely not like the US, where cookie dough is a delicacy of it’s own!) Anna’s is one of the most famous brands of pepparkakor, and it’s sold all over the world. (Especially at IKEA.)

I have to admit that I’m actually not a huge fan, but I really enjoyed making my own. The recipe is by Jan Hedh, a famous Swedish pastry chef, and was published in a recent cooking magazine. It looked like a very classic recipe, and I ended up with a nice and flexible dough that was fun to work with, and TONS of cookies. This recipe makes a lot, so be aware! These go well with coffee, of course, but are better with Swedish Glögg, our version of spiced wine. You can make your own – I’ll post a recipe some day soon, or get thee to IKEA, I’m sure they sell it. Another way to eat it is with blue cheese. It’s a very yummy contrast between soft and creamy but sharp cheese, and crisp, sweet, spicy cookie!

(yields at least 10 dozen cookies, if using a medium sized cutter)

2 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp ground ginger
1 tbsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground cardamom
½ tsp allspice
1 tsp of salt (omit if using salted butter)
1 tbsp baking soda

300 gram unsalted butter (I used salted, like I normally do, and it was fine.)
250 gram regular white sugar
150 gram brown sugar

1 small egg
the peel of one lemon
300 ml golden syrup
300 ml heavy cream
1100 gram flour

Day one: Sift the spices and the baking soda in a bowl. Mix butter with the two sugars, add the spices and the egg. Add lemon, golden syrup, cream and finally flour. This will be fairly sticky – don’t worry! Stick it in the fridge overnight, but don’t do what I did and just put the whole mixer bowl in there. It becomes very, very, very solid. Instead, make a log or at least flat discs, wrap in plastic, and chill. (I broke my favorite wooden spoon trying to get the dough out of the bowl on day two. Not fun.)

Day two. Take out small pieces of dough at a time, and roll out on a floured workface. I don’t need to teach you how to cut out cookies. (But do use a lot of flour, you don’t want to have to scrape these off the counter top. It doesn’t impair the flavor much.)

Bake in the oven, at 180 degrees Celsius (350 F) for 7-8 minutes, depending on size. I ended up making a lot of cat shapes (how surprising!) but also a lot of smaller stars and hearts.


Cathy said...

Hi Ann - your kitty Pepparkakor is so cute! I have a drawer full of cookie cutters, but I don't think I have a cat cutter (seems like I should, though, as I love cats). I took a look at your other website with the cat and kitten photos - the kittens are adorable and Yvette and Kelly are gorgeous!

Anne said...

Aw, thanks! :) I adore that cookie cutter myself - it's fairly large, and makes beautiful cookies. They also hold up pretty well, since all the parts are wide enough. I have another one, but that has a very narrow tail and it generally breaks off.

amylou said...

I was just doing a search for a good pepparkakor recipe and found your blog. Now I have the recipe and a new blog to read--thanks!

Anonymous said...

u should try this:

Tricia said...

Hi Anne,
Swedish pepparkakor is my all time favorite cookie. My grandma was 1st generation from Sweden and we never called her cookies ginger thins--always pepparkakor. Her recipe uses orange peel instead of lemon. She used to make a ton of cookies for the holidays and we would sneak in the back door of her farm house and steal handfuls at a time. I could eat a hundred right now! They're so thin and crispy you can eat a lot of them! I hate making them as my dough is always sticky and I can't roll them out well. And they're just not as good if they're not paper thin like Grandma used to make them. Oh well, I guess you appreciate them more that way! Thanks for a great memory!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for the pepparkakor recipe....I was having the same trouble you mentioned with the dough becoming solid in the bowl in the fridge, so your "roll" idea was a real help.

God jul

Anonymous said...

Oh, help, Anne. What is "golden cream?" I think it must be akin to our molasses here in the states, but want to be sure I use the correct ingredient. Many thanks, from Lynn in Woodstock, Illinois

Anne said...

Hi Lynn! Golden Syrup is similar to light molasses, if that makes sense! If you have an Ikea, they might have it (ljus sirap is what you'll look for) but otherwise, just try it with as a light molasses as you can find! :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Anne! It's a "snow day" here...we got over a foot of snow and all our schools are closed (I'm a school librarian), so I'm starting my Christmas cookies. I actually have light molasses in my pantry. Amazing!

Anonymous said...

Hej Anne,

i was just surfing around looking for a genuine pepparkakor recipe... and i found yours! i have a question to make though: since 10 dozens of cookies are a bit too much, can i take a half of all ingredients? there are some recipes you have to follow exactly, is this recipe like that?


Anne said...

Hej Camomilla! I haven't tried halving this, but it should work out just fine. Just beat the egg and add about half - or use a very small egg, and some extra flour. Good luck!!

Anonymous said...

Hi Anne-
your kiity is so sweet. i'm making cookies for my class and i'm making circles (or gingerbread people i'll probably go with people.) They sound delicious!

Katy said...

Hello Anne, I randomly stumbled upon your page as I searched google for another Pepparkakor recipe, having failed miserably in so many other similar 'crispy ginger biscuit' recipes.
The main problem I had was either A) the finished result was too soft (I wanted crispy) or B) The dough was just TOO sticky to roll and cut.
So I wanted to THANK YOU SO MUCH! For the wonderful recipe you have provided here. I actually halved the ingredients (in case it was another disaster!) but otherwise followed your instructions exactly... and the biscuits are beautiful and perfect! They were so easy to roll and cut, and the biscuits were thin and crispy with a fantastic flavour. I will be recommending this recipe to everyone. Thank you once again, you are FABULOUS!
Katy (in London) :-)

Anne said...

Katy, that's great!! I'm so glad you're pleased! :)

DJonsson said...

Hi! I'm a 3rd generation Swede in the US, and I hear all the legends about my great grandmother's cooking. She came from Neder-Kalix to Ellis Island in 1923. I was young when she passed, and unfortunately all her recipes went with her, as she kept them in her head with no precise measuring. I love the Glogg and Pepparkakors. My dad though raves about Great Grandma Jonsson's Skorpa (sp?) and how when he was little he would dip it in milk or coffee and suck all of it out of the bread. I've never had home made Skorpa, only store bought. Can you tell me if there is a difference, cause I'd like to make my dad the most similar kind I can get to great grandma's.
Sorry, it's kind of off topic...

God Jul!!

Anne said...

DJonsson - I'm sorry to say that I've never made skorpor myself! I think the store-bought kind are pretty darn good, and pretty darn authentic, for the most kind :) I'll try to get to it sometime in 2008 though - it'd be a fun project. :)

God jul to you and your family - I love hearing that Swedish traditions live on all over the world!

Anonymous said...

I just found this page because I was looking for a recipe that resembles my grandmothers recipe for pepparkokar. I have eaten these cookies since day one. You should try out my grandmothers recipe.

2 dessert spoons (heap) cloves
2 dessert spoons Cinnamon
1 lb oleo
1 lb sugar
1 lb can Lyle's golden syrup
2 tbl baking soda
1/2 lb flour

mix in order given, use your hands to mix at the end. Roll into smalls balls, cover and place in the refridgerator.

spray a cookie sheet with pam. place the dough balls on the sheet and spread paper thin with the heel of your palm. you may use a plasic bag over yor hand to keep it from sticking. Bake in a 300 degree oven for about 5 minutes. take off pan when slightly cooled. If they start to break put back in the oven for a moment to warm before removing.

These cookies have been the same since my grandmother learned from her mother. I hope you enjoy the recipe.


LiLu said...

Hi Ann!
I am from Slovakia and wanted to bake pepparkakors for this years christmas, so I am very happy to find your blog:)
Got some questions for you- firstly, what is this "heavy cream"? It is something different from whipped cream? Where can I get it? (Haven´t seen it in Ikea)
And how long before Christmas do you start baking? We usually make classic "honey cookies" that are best prepared one month in advance so they get pretty tender. Is it the same for pepparkakor?
One more time, thank you for great recipe:)

Anne said...

Hi LiLu!

Heavy cream, or double cream, seems to go by many names, but is just full-fat cream. Look for about 35-40% fat content. No sugar added, just cream.

These are not better made in advance - because of all the fat and sugar, they're best when they're fresh. You can make the dough well in advance and keep it in the fridge - some say that helps develop flavor, but I never have the patience. Good luck!

Anne Noonan said...

Hej Anne!
I saw that another reader said she came upon your site by accident, as did I! I brought pepparkakor into work today to share with my coworkers, and one of them was asking me how to spell it. I wanted to verify it, so I googled it, and I was so lucky to find your site! Even more fun was that I am an Anne of Swedish descent, in Minnesota. I grew up with many Swedish traditions and influences, but---funny enough--we didn't have pepparkakor growing up. It was something I discovered later. I love them because I am not a "chocolate person"---I much prefer nuts and spicy things. So, I just wanted to thank you for your wonderful site, and I hope to make them myself using the recipe you have provided. Your guests/readers have really appreciated it, so it must be a good one!
With warmth from the cold country of Minnesota,
Anne (Sammelson) Noonan
p.s. God Jul!

Altenburger said...

Hi Ann,
I am preparing to try your pepparkakor recipe and trying to figure out US equivalents to your ingredients. When you list grams, are you actually weighing these ingredients on a scale? As in 250 grams sugar, here, most recipes have ingredients as volume.
Thanks, looking forward to it.

Anne said...

Anne - glad to hear it.

Altenberger - I much prefer weight measuring since it's much more exact. Most people use liquid measurements here, too - but according to the metric system. It's fairly easy to convert though, but keep in mind that since ingredients have different weights, you can't just use a table. Sugar is easy though - 250 g is about 250 ml, which is about one cup.

Anonymous said...

Hi Anne, I am a Bulgarian who lives in Australia. Honey biscuits are not traditional in Bulgaria, more like a German tradition, but I use to make them for 20 years. I decorated then with love for my kids and they are great fans too. I found they are the best nibble for red wine! There is no ginger in my recipe, but my friends in Australia call them Ginger Cookies. Though it is hot here now, I'll prepare them soon. Thanks for the recipe. Good luck!

littlehanoi2000 said...

Hej san,
Came across your recipe while searching for pepparkakor, I love this cookies and plan to make some. Any idea if it's still taste good without the cardamom? Also I have read from some other recipes that we could use light corn sirup. Will it still be cripspy?
I'm very happy to find your blog. If you are interested, I can also share some of my recipes with you sometimes. I come from Vietnam and Vietnamese food is quite famous for its rich and fresh taste. Thank you so much for making this blog so useful. Hoa from Vietnam

Anne said...

Hi! Sure, they'll be tasty without the cardamom as well, just not the same. I would NOT substitute corn syrup for golden syrup. Baking-wise, it'll be the same, but they won't taste the same (at all). Much better to use molasses, or at least half/half.

Alison said...

Thanks so much Anne for this recipe. I have been searching for a pepparkakor recipe which approximates the flavor of the cookies my great grandmother used to make at Christmas and I think I've found it! I tripled the cardamon though and left the dough in the fridge for a week before baking. This really does make the flavor of the spices much denser. Thanks for your lovely food blog!

Gaviota said...

Hej Anne!
My pepparkakor dough is resting in the fridge right now. I couldn't help but wondering what the resting does to the dough. All recipes I've seen seem to coincide on that one.
I was also wondering if you could substitute Swedish sirap for honey or something else since it is not available in certain countries (certainly not in Argentina) and I know I will want to make them there.

Tack och God Jul!

Anne said...

Gaviota - the resting helps the gluten relax and makes the dough easier to roll out, but more importantly, it gives the spices time to really bloom, and it intensifies the flavors. The syrup is quite important to the flavor, but I'd try substituting with some sort of molasses, maybe cane syrup? Honey would not be very similar, but I bet you'd still get great cookies!

Gaviota said...

Thanks for your answer, it really helps. I hope you've had a wonderful Christmas and have an even better New Year!

Anonymous said...

Oh, my, these look lovely!!!!! I have been scouring the internet for a traditional recipe, and this one fits the bill! We are doing a literature unit on Pippi Longstocking, and how could we possibly do that without pepparkakor? :) I can't wait to make these with my kids.

Isyqi said...

Hello Ann. I just stopped by ur page as you know the Anna's Pepparkakor product (bought at IKEA). FYI, I'm a Muslim n could you pls do me a favour asking any of your Muslim friend (if any) whether the emulsifier E471 in those product is from the plant or animal source. Really hope you can help me find some answer. TQ.

Anne said...

Hi! I've e-mailed the manufacturer to ask your question - I'll report back.

Anne said...

I'm glad to report that Annas pepparkakor uses plant-based e-471. Well, I'd be gladder to report if they didn't use additives at all, but at least it's vegetarian.

Anonymous said...

My swedish aunt used to make these at Christmas, but she passed away a few years ago. I contacted my cousin in Australia to see if she had her mum's recipe. She didn't but told me she buys Anne's pepparkakors when she has a hankering, although not in Chrismas shapes. I don't want to go and buy these from Ikea, I want to try and make them myself. I'll need to get cloves and cardamon though. Looking forward to trying this recipe.

sarabooswim said...

Hej! Can't wait to try your Pepparkakor recipe. My husband and I lived in Nynashamn a while back and those cookies are one Swedish food I really miss! If you still need a Tortilla press and some Corn flour I'll bring them to you next summer when we visit! Sara

sarabooswim said...

I just baked up a batch of these and my kitchen smells heavenly! The dough was easy to work with and they came out nice and crispy. I would like to add even more spice next time! Would you recommend adding more cinnamon and ginger to make them more spicy? I added a bit off black pepper for kick but I couldn't detect it in the finished cookie. Can you tell me about adding black pepper? Why don't you use it in your recipe? I've seen it in others. Thanks Anne, these are great!

sapphire said...

Hey Anne! Going to make your recipe now.

Good you pointed out how hard the dough becomes. I made pepparkakor last year and left it in the mixing bowl too. Whoops!

Alright will let you know how it goes.

Anne said...

First, I have to point out that this isn't my favorite recipe any more - I think I've posted at least two new ones that are much easier than these :) I might try yet another new one this year, we'll see. (You'll find the other ones by using the search box, or the drop dpwn menus.)

Regarding spice, pepparkakor really aren't very spicy. Swedish ones rarely, if ever, contain pepper. They should be sweet and flavorful, but not that spicy.. well, it's obviously up to the baker, but traditionally-speaking. :) I think black pepper is more of a German thing, but I'm not sure.

Popnea said...

Thanks for the recipe, just made a batch (OK half a batch as I ran out of flour). It taste yum, even though I dont know what allspice is so I skipped it. I'll hopefully not burn the cookies in the owen tomorrow!

Celina said...

Hi Ann,
Im a second generation swede living in australia. I love your peppakoker recipe it was so delicious and crisp, even my mum was impressed. I actually went into labour after making this recipe so now i will chrish this recipe forever ;) Thank you

Corinne said...

Making pepparkakor is a huge tradition in my family. The recipe came from my Swedish great-grandmother. I don't have it in front of me, but I think it is very similar (except for oranges instead of lemons). However, as per her directions, we make the cookies right after Thanksgiving and store them in tins at room temperature until Christmas. We always assumed this allowed the flavors to develop. Another difference is that we always put a piece of bread in the tin for a day before we are ready to eat them. It makes the cookies nice and soft instead of crisp. I always assumed they were to be eaten after being softened, so I was surprised to see that all the other comments seem to agree that these cookies are supposed to be crisp! Perhaps this method was specific to my great-grandmother and her family. They are delicious, though, and a great tradition! The most fun part of the tradition is decorating them. We use a basic icing that hardens when dry, then outline the shapes/details with a thin piped line so that the icing doesn't overwhelm the cookie flavor.

iela izhar said...

Hi hello ann,i just buy from IKEA,muslim can eat or not becouse got E471..pls answer me,tq

iela izhar said...

Hi ann..muslim can eat or not..

Anne said...

Iela, I answered that further up in the comment thread - Anna's uses plant-based e-471 so it should be fine for anyone wishing to keep a vegetarian diet.

Marta said...

Hi Anne, I would like to halve the recipe, but what should I do about the egg? Keep it or leave it out?

Anne said...

Marta, for half an egg - whisk it, and use half. I think you can probably omit it here though, not all my gingerbread recipes contain egg.

Marta said...

Thanks for the advice and the recipe, Anne! I halved the recipe, used half an egg and molasses instead of golden syrup. Pepparkakor turned out great. My mom simply wolfed them down. I will surely use this recipe again. Merry Christmas from Poland!

Mindy said...

I am so glad to have found your blog! I was looking for a Swedish recipe for our family christmas party celebrating our Swedish heritage.
Everyone at the party loved the cookies! and my kids and myself can't get enough!
We used corn syrup, since I didn't know what golden syrup was. We will try molasses next time. I love the way the house smells when we bake them.
Thank you so much for sharing your recipe. I live in Idaho, in the US.

Erika Krumbeck said...

In case your readers need a gluten-free, dairy-free version, I have a version on my own blog: (Hope it's ok to link).

I made these every year growing up in a Swedish-American house (I still have my citizenship), and when I couldn't have wheat or dairy it was devastating. I spent a couple years perfecting my recipe and now my Mom likes it better than hers!

Yum, I LOVE the smell of pepparkakor. Don't forget that pigs and hearts are traditional.

Erika Krumbeck said...

In case your readers need a gluten-free, dairy-free version, I have a version on my own blog: (Hope it's ok to link).

I made these every year growing up in a Swedish-American house (I still have my citizenship), and when I couldn't have wheat or dairy it was devastating. I spent a couple years perfecting my recipe and now my Mom likes it better than hers!

Yum, I LOVE the smell of pepparkakor. Don't forget that pigs and hearts are traditional.

Mike Benjamin said...

Hi Anne..Need your advice..My pepparkakors are coming out to distorted when baked. They get a little out of shape. What do you think? Batch not cold enough before I get out the cutters and roll them out?? Been cooking them for a few years now but the last batch last year and the two I baked this years are not perfect...Help

Anne said...

Possibly that, try leaving the cut out shapes in the fridge perhaps? You haven't switched ovens, or baking soda..? :)

Donna said...

Tak!for just the recipe I was looking for...your version looks superior with the amazing spice variety and the dough is "resting/blooming" in the fridge...Is a 24 period of chilling sufficient...or do you recommend 2 or several days?...Also ...this is one of the few recipes I have seen calling for there is reason for this?..Does it impart superior flavor or crispness? Is this more authentically Swedish pepparkakor with the added cream?..Thank you so such a beautiful, exquisite blog --I have only just discovered you and shall be visiting often..You have brilliant ideas and creativity in all things culinary!

Donna said...

Oops..forgot to ask...WHERE did you find that quintessential cat cookie cutter?..I want to find one just like it!!!..Amazon or on-line? I like its' modern/clean..scandinavien aspect and how there are no "skinny nooks and crannies" for the dough to get stuck or break too easily after baking....Thank you again!

Anne said...

donna, I wish I could be more helpful, but the truth is it was several years since I last made this exact dough and I can't really comment on how the flavor changes over time. I usually let the dough sit for at least a week nowadays, but that's just from convenience. I make another recipe most of the time, which is easier:

The cookies are puffier, but tastier. The cream seems to make them more caramell-y, but I haven't done a side-by-side comparison with butter.. it's just a lot easier :-)

As for the cutter, I found it in a Swedish design store, sadly about ten years ago. I love it, but have no idea who made it. :-(