Pepparkakor - Swedish Christmas Cookies

 piparkakut piparkoogid brunkager ginger nuts

There are many types of gingerbread made around Christmas time in Europe. Personally I like the thin crisp type they make in Scandinavia, as opposed to the thicker chewy types you see in Germany and France. The main reason I wanted to bake pepparkakor this year was to pair it with blue cheese as an hors-d'oeuvre on the julbord. I discovered this gingersnap-blue cheese combo fairly recently and was blown away by the flavours, and wondered why I hadn't heard of it before. Brunkager in Denmark are almost exactly the same, but no one I've met had ever tried the pairing even though Sweden is just across the bridge.

brunkager christmas cookies Traditionally pepparkakor are cut into shapes. Stars, hearts, trees, and various animals are most common. Small holes can be punched in the top and the cookies used as Christmas tree ornaments, which I think is more appealing than the candy canes we had as a kid. They say if you hold a pepparkaka in your hand and make a wish, then crack the cookie with your thumb, if it cracks into 3 pieces, your wish will come true, if not, that's how the cookie crumbles. Pro Tip: it's proven that heart shaped cookies are more likely to break into 3 pieces.

Swedish christmas cookies
swedish christmas cookies 

 Fruit pear or figs is a good addition to the blue cheese. I poached a pear in sugar syrup and vanilla, and topped each cookie with a sliver. When I was in Malmö I bought Ädelost in a tube it made a good creamy base to put the stronger crumbly blue cheese on. The recipe for pepparkakor is easy. The one I used from Cottage in the oaks is a bit different from most, as it includes an egg, but I really liked how they turned out. I added a little more spice than the recipe to complement the cheese and pear. These things are addictive. You need to try them!





Pepparkaka Cookie Recipe

 175ml butter, softened
175ml sugar
125ml molasses
1 large egg, beaten
375g all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda, dissolved into 1 tbsp water
1.5 tsp cinnamon
1.5 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp salt

1. In a mixer cream together the butter and sugar.
2. Add the molasses and egg
3.Mix in the remaining ingredients until well blended.
4.Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours.
5.Roll the dough to 1/8″ thickness on a lightly floured surface and cut out shapes
6.Bake at 175ºC for 8-10 minutes or until edges begin to brown

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