Pepparkakor (or in Finnish: piparit) are traditional Nordic holiday cookies which are somewhat similar to gingerbread though the main spice isn’t ginger, but rather cinnamon.
The dough is based on spiced caramel and has quite “waxy” texture when uncooked, and it’s the recipe that I use each year.
125 grams (4,41 oz) of butter
100 ml (0,42 cups) of molasses
150 ml (0,63 cups) of granulated sugar
500 ml (2,11 cups) of wheat flour
2 tsp of baking soda
Dry and ground spices:
2 tsp of cinnamon
1 tsp of ginger
½ tsp of clove
Optional dry and ground spices (which I always add):
1 tsp of bitter orange peel
1 tsp of cardamom
On the day of making dough:
Mix the baking soda into the flour.
Put the butter, sugars and spices into a kettle. Stir from bottom to top while they melt as a mix and let it boil until it’s a bit caramelized. You can boil it as long as you like, but if you boil it long you’ll probably get a dough that’s harder to work with and has small hard bits of caramel. But in the end it’s the matter of taste and effort.
Take the kettle off the stove and keep stirring slowly so the caramel’s temperature stays even and won’t only harden around the edges. When the caramel shows signs of cooling a bit by thickening but is still being easy to work, add the egg and mix it even.
Start adding the flour mix into the caramel mix. The flour can be stirred in with a tool at first but once the dough starts to get a lighter colour and thicken the rest would have to be kneaded in – with delightfully sticky fingers.
Press the dough into container(s) and let it settle in the fridge at least overnight. It can also be frozen if you want to save it for later use.
On the day of baking:
Before you start to work the dough into cookies or house parts, let it warm slowly in room temperature so it’s easier to work with.
Heat the oven into 200°C (392°F). Dust the surface with wheat flour and start to stretch the dough out with a rolling pin, making a thin sheet. Use cookie cutters of your choice and have fun. I usually make the next batch right when the previous is still being baked in the oven.
The cookies will first slightly rise and puff, then they settle down and brown slightly and that’s when they’re at their best. When you take them out they’re still a bit soft when they’re hot, but quickly harden when they cool down.
Fun fact: If you’re making a pepparkaka house you can still shape them while hot which makes the round towers possible if you have round dishes to shape them with such as glass bottles.
Decorate the cookies as you wish, using royal icing with sprinkles, candies, edible dust etc. They will keep for a long time, and even get better with age as more aromas are coming out.