In Norway from December 1-31 pepperkaker is everywhere. Pepperkaker and gløgg to be more precise. When you go buy a Christmas tree there is a table with free pepperkaker and gløgg. When you go into shops there is a little bowl of pepperkaker by the door. When you go to see Nøtteknekkeren at the opera (and you must!) they have pint sized ballerinas handing it out at intermission. It wouldn’t be Christmas in Norway without pepperkaker. Most people make their own AND buy store bought. That’s because most of the recipes are not very good. Rolling out and stamping the cookies with kids is a tradition that everyone does. The kids even do it at school. I have never seen such adept bakers in my life as Norwegian toddlers rolling out and stamping their own gingerbread cookies. However, for the dough to be so workable by little hands it is often a bit tough and slightly too thick. So people usually buy the pepperkaker they want to eat. I now present you with the most delicious and totally workable recipe for pepperkaker! This dough rolls out beautifully, and it tastes amazing! The key is to get it thin enough and not burn it. Pepperkaker should have a snap to it. Note: I don’t recommend this recipe for making gingerbread houses, it is a bit too soft to hold up for very long. A note on substitutions: If you substitute honey for the corn syrup it makes the cookies softer. If you substitute gluten free flour these are easier to roll out but they are also softer. I have not found a butter substitute that is sufficient to make these completely dairy free, but you can replace the cream with soy milk without too much trouble.
Makes: about 40 4inch gingerbread men
Preparation time: 1h30m
Cooking time: 1h30m
Total time: 1h40m
- 250 grams butter (a little over two sticks)
- 150 grams light corn syrup
- 255 grams sugar
- 150 grams cream
- 580 all purpose flour
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground pepper
- 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
Equipment: cookie cutters
- Combine the butter, honey and sugar in a saucepan. Heat over medium until butter melts and sugar dissolves. Remove from heat.
- Whisk the cream into the sugar mixture. Set aside.
- In a large bowl combine the flour and spices.
- Combine the wet and dry mixtures.
- Stir with a wooden spoon until a smooth dough forms.
- Divide into balls and wrap in parchment paper. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF/175ºC then roll out, stamp shapes and bake. If the dough has gotten too cold then it will be tricky to roll out, we like to hit it with the rolling pin to flatten it (because it’s fun) then roll and turn a bunch of times. You can also take off smaller balls and warm them up in your hands and knead them a few times before rolling out. Use flour when rolling out and make sure to put down a little flour just after the last roll so that the cookies don’t stick to the counter after you’ve stamped them.
- Bake small cookies (1-2") for 10 minutes. Bake large cookies (4-6") for 12-14 minutes. They are done baking when they start to change color at the edges, but are not too dark. It just takes buring one batch to know what too dark is :)...if they are not done in the suggested times then they are too thick.
350ºF 10m - small cookies 12-14m - large cookies