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RECIPE | Pepparkakor Or Swedish Ginger Snaps Cookies

RECIPE | Pepparkakor Or Swedish Ginger Snaps Cookies

Pepparkakor: the irresistible Swedish ginger snaps

If you’ve ever stepped into a supermarket in Sweden (the food section in your local Ikea will provide the next best alternative) you may know about pepparkakor. They’re a much loved Christmas cookie, but I like to enjoy them all year.

If the name doesn’t ring a bell, the description will – very thin and very crisp dark spiced ginger biscuits, also known as ginger thins or ginger snaps. I picked up a couple of boxes when visiting Stockholm over Easter, one for home and one for a gift. Turns out I ate most of both boxes as it’s almost impossible to ignore their unique texture and mildly fiery flavour.

They’re not like any other cookie I’ve encountered – incredibly light and completely void of moisture lending to their unmistakable crispness. And those who did get a chance to dip in a paw before I managed to scoff the contents of both boxes thoroughly enjoyed them for the same reasons.

Short of having to drive to Ikea every time I want to re-stock, I soon realised the only solution would be to find a recipe and make them (regularly) myself.

The elusive pepparkakor ‘snap’

After quite a bit of research, it turns out achieving the signature snap in this Christmas cookie favourite is a challenge. There are online stories of bakers making dozens of batches with varying degrees of ingredients, still unable to claim victory over the elusive and unique texture.

Suggestions involve excluding any fat whatsoever in order to remove all moisture. Others say bake the ginger biscuits for longer at a lower temperature. Further advice speaks of using very strong and unfamiliar raising agents for the tough dough.

Well, I found a recipe and a process that read right to me. I tried it, and I nailed it first time. If you want to achieve the same texture and flavour as those boxed Swedish ginger thins, use this recipe.

Check Out: Recipe For Gluten-Free Hazelnut And Coffee Cookies, With No Butter!

RECIPE | Pepparkakor Or Swedish Ginger Snaps Cookies

This recipe is from Cook’s Illustrated Magazine (November 2011) and is an absolute corker. It is also incredibly quick and easy to make the dough – the majority of your time will be spent rolling and cutting out the individual ginger biscuits.

The recipe suggests this makes about 80 biscuits but I end up with double – I suspect I roll the dough half as thin as the recipe has. So if you do in fact want 80, I would half the below ingredients. Or you’ll end up with 160 biscuits filling up two large Tupperware boxes. Not a bad situation to be in, in my opinion. Keep them airtight and they’ll last you for as long as two people with an average biscuit intake would need to eat them.

A Recipe For Pepparkakor, Or Swedish Ginger Snaps Cookies

Makes 80 (or around 160 very thin ones as in the pictures)

  • 2 1/2 cups plain flour
  • 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 170g unsalted butter
  • 4 tbsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • Pinch cayenne
  • 1 1/4 cups packed dark brown soft sugar
  • 1/4 cup molasses or black treacle
  • 1 large egg plus 1 large yolk

How to make pepparkakor dough, the perfect Christmas cookie

RECIPE | Pepparkakor Or Swedish Ginger Snaps Cookies

Mix the flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt together in bowl. In the meantime, heat the butter in a pan over a medium heat until melted.

Lower the heat to medium-low and continue to cook, swirling the pan frequently, until the foaming subsides and the butter is just beginning to brown. Turn off the heat.

Whisk in all the spices and then add the brown sugar and molasses to the butter mixture. Whisk to combine until the sugar has melted and you have a smooth mixture. Add the egg and yolk and mix again with the whisk to combine. You should have a dark, sticky, smooth and glossy mixture.

Pour this mixture into your bowl of flour and combine with a spatula until you have a dough – don’t over work it. Cover the bowl with cling film and keep in the fridge for the butter to firm, at least an hour.

Rolling out pepparkakor ginger snaps – why not make gingerbread men!

RECIPE | Pepparkakor Or Swedish Ginger Snaps CookiesAdjust your oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat the oven to 130C (fan). Line two baking trays with non-stick baking paper or silicone paper.

Break off a portion of the dough and with your hands mound into a round and squash down. Take a rolling pin and slowly roll it out – if the edges are dry and crack, smooth them out with your fingers and continue rolling slowly.

If any of the dough sticks to your rolling pin, just reverse the roll to remove it and join it back to the main mass.

Roll them about as thin as 1mm – don’t worry, they do rise a little in the oven. Use a small cookie cutter to cut out your shapes. You can choose whatever you want – simple circles, stars, or even gingerbread men.

Carefully lift each biscuit and place on your baking trays – leave a slight gap between each as they do expand slightly. You will fit about twenty per baking tray. Gather up the remaining dough and join with the rest of the mass. Break off another portion and repeat the process until all your dough is used up.

RECIPE | Pepparkakor Or Swedish Ginger Snaps Cookies

Baking pepparkakor Swedish ginger biscuits

Place one tray on the upper rack and while it’s baking, roll out and fill up your next tray. After 15 minutes or so, transfer the partially baked top tray to the lower rack and rotate 180 degrees.

Place your second tray of biscuits on the upper rack. When your first tray is done, remove from the oven and transfer each biscuit to a cooling rack. Bring the top tray down to the bottom shelf, and continue this rotation until you’ve cooked all your biscuits. The ginger snaps are done when they are hard to touch and just darkening around the edges – around 15-20 minutes.

 The dough can be refrigerated for up to two days or frozen for up to one month if you want to get ahead. Let the dough stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before shaping. Let frozen dough thaw overnight before proceeding with the recipe.

Settle down on a comfy arm chair in the evening with half a dozen pepparkakor, a glass of cold milk and a good read. I’m sold.

Have you ever made pepparkakor and if so, how did it go? What’s your favourite type of Christmas cookie? Would you use gingerbread men cutters for this, or another shape? If you’ve tried making these ginger things, let me know in the comments below!

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Leyla Kazim
Leyla Kazim

Spending most of my time either eating or travelling. Constantly in awe of nature and on a mission to seek the joy in every moment. Please feel free to leave a comment below, I love hearing from you all!

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  1. carrerclan
    April 15, 2017 / 16:42

    Hi these sound like a MUST bake…except I've just raided my cupboards and I don't have treacle…booohooo…shops now shut till Tues…what will I do?!? Do you think I could substitute with golden syrup? Afraid they'll miss that distinct treacle flavour…

    • Leyla Kazim
      April 17, 2017 / 17:42

      Oh they're so good! Yes I Would say you could go ahead and substitute for this batch. Then get some treacle and try it the original way next time. Then you can compare the two and see which you prefer, and get two batches from the experimentation!

  2. Anonymous
    December 15, 2016 / 01:14

    Made these exactly as described…just FANTASTIC! Here's a tip to getting the dough wafer thin without all the problems..roll the dough between 2 pieces of parchment paper, cut the cookies but DO NOT remove them from the sheet of dough. Place the whole tray in the freezer for a few minutes and the rounds are easy to remove without sticking. Great recipe.

    • Leyla Kazim
      April 17, 2017 / 17:42

      That's a great tip, thanks so much for sharing! 😀 😀

    November 30, 2016 / 09:19

    I have a gas oven…same oven temp? Using Fahrenheit…

    • Karyl
      January 29, 2018 / 15:32

      You should play with it in your – but I discovered in my oven 375F and 10 minutes total in the top 1/3 of my oven is perfect. The ones I tried doing from top to bottom ended up over-browned. In my girlfriend’s oven we did closer to 18 minutes using the two-rack switcheroo. Just watch them carefully.

    November 30, 2016 / 09:16

    I'm hosting a Swedish baking day for friends and family, -!: like you, have been wading through masses of pepparkakor recipes wondering which one will be the One. This one wins! All the positive feedback has me sold. And, since I polished off my IKEA tin in only a few days, I clearly need a refill.
    What oven temp in Fahrenheit do you suggest?

    • Leyla Kazim
      November 30, 2016 / 21:20

      Ahh, I hope the recipe serves you well for your Swedish baking day – that sounds like it will be lots of fun! Google tells me 180C in farenheit is 356, so around that should be fine. But still keep an eye on them either way, to make sure they don't burn. Let me know how they go!

    • Leyla Kazim
      November 30, 2016 / 21:24

      Sorry ignore that. It's 130C, not 180C! Google says 130C is around 266F 🙂

  5. Anonymous
    November 29, 2016 / 14:07

    Hi,as a native Swede I'm so happy that you've done the legwork for me.I thought I would have to go and by the pre-made frozen dough the sell at IKEA. It's really hard to use my Swedish recipes here in the U.S. as the flour is processed differently.
    I will make these in a couple of days and try them. Thanks a lot and God Jul (Merry Christmas)as we say in Swedish.

    • Leyla Kazim
      November 30, 2016 / 21:18

      This is so great to hear! Do let me know how it goes. God Jul to you too! 🙂

  6. Priscilla Something
    November 29, 2016 / 04:46

    Yummy!!! I'll be making this for Christmas!

    • Leyla Kazim
      November 29, 2016 / 08:14

      Hooray! Let me know how it goes 🙂

  7. Patricia Saldaña Zevallos
    September 8, 2016 / 02:54

    As you said, it's a very difficult biscuit to make but no effort is too much once you nailed it. I've done it, i got my own recipe and a brand. I bake and sell pepparkakor in Peru. 😀
    Everybody love pepparkakor!!!

    • Leyla Kazim
      November 28, 2016 / 18:56

      Haha, agreed Patricia – everyone does love pepparkakor! 🙂

  8. Amy Blair
    May 10, 2016 / 20:41

    We were at IKEA yesterday and could not justify paying $16 for a small package of these cookies. I plan on making these for my brother and hope he likes them just as much if not better.

    • Leyla Kazim
      May 11, 2016 / 08:16

      That's excellent Amy. I bet you will love them!

  9. LJQ
    January 23, 2016 / 21:03

    Thank you for sharing! The cookies turned out fabulous!

    • Leyla Kazim
      May 11, 2016 / 08:16

      That's wonderful to hear! Thanks for letting me know 🙂

  10. David: Henley-on-Thames
    December 14, 2015 / 17:47

    I miss my regular trips to Sweden when I bought pepparkakor each time by the tin. So I searched for a recipe and liked the look of this one the best and the very favourable comments. The problem I have is that everyone finds them too delicious and morish that they're gone to quickly. I'm now making my third batch in 10 days. Now cutting into Christmas trees, bells and stars as well as the round shapes. Great Christmas gifts but why would you want to give them away?

    • Leyla Kazim
      May 11, 2016 / 08:15

      Hi David, you're right – they are great Christmas gifts. And you're also right that they're so moreish! So glad to hear people are enjoying them 🙂

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