Pepparkarkor: A Swedish Tradition

Pepparkarkor is a traditional Swedish cookie baked for the holidays. It’s flavor is similar to gingerbread, but it is very thin and hard. It is one of my earliest cookie baking memories from my childhood. This is a recipe that my Papa used to always make and decorate with a Royal Icing. He would put so much time and energy into creating these masterpiece cookies that were all most too beautiful to eat! I’d sit for ever and watch him decorate while they were spread out on the dinning room table covered in wax paper. As soon as I was old enough to help, I joined in! He always made them in his stand mixer. Finally one Christmas the thick cookie dough made the motor on the old mixer whine and it finally died. He had to trade it in for a high tech Kitchen-Aid. Now that my Papa is older, he doesn’t make his famous Pepparkarkor anymore.  It’s one of those things that I don’t think we have any pictures of, and it makes me very sad. But the memories I have are vivid and luckily I have his old recipe card and even his old cookie cutters. So I’m well prepared to carry on the tradition when I have a family of my own!

Here is the recipe per my grandfather’s handwriting (and a little help from me):

Pepparkarkor

Ingredients

  • 1/2  Pound of Butter
  • 1 Cup of Sugar
  • 1/14 Cup Molasses
  • 1/2 Cup Milk
  • 3 Egg Yolks
  • 1 Egg White
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon Cloves
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon Ginger
  • 7 1/2 Cups Flour
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda

Instructions

  1. Mix in usual manner. (Cream the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time until incorporated. Mix in wet ingredients like the molasses and milk, followed by the spices. Lastly add the baking soda and the flour, mixing until just combined)
  2. Dough will be quite stiff. Roll out small amount. Cut out one cookie, place in oven. If it spreads it needs more flour. If cookie only rises it’s OK. Bake 8-10 min, 357 degrees.

(The recipe continues on the other side of the card with the recipe for Royal Icing for decorating)

“From Betty Crocker Cookie Book Page 151”

  • 3 Egg Whites
  • 3/4 teaspoon Cream of Tartar
  • 3 Cups Powdered Sugar

Beat egg whites and cream of tartar until stiff using mixer w/ wisk beater. Beat in 1 cup of sugar at a time running wisk at high speed for several minutes between adding more powdered sugar. Cover unused frosting and refrigerate.

Posted by on December 18th, 2010