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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. Terri
    December 15, 2018 / 20:13

    Question: I’m trying to make thin crisps like this but without molasses. Do I need to replace the molasses with something or can I just leave it out?

    • Julie
      December 17, 2018 / 21:46

      I’m thinking you can use syrup like maybe maple or corn syrup.

    • Rebecca
      December 22, 2018 / 19:01

      Dark Corn Syrup

  2. Becky
    December 9, 2018 / 15:17

    I made these today and they’re delicious! Only cooked off 10 and froze the rest of the dough to make them as part of some gift boxes nearer Christmas. I used a Christmas stamp to imprint them and it worked really well

  3. Steph
    December 8, 2018 / 17:34

    Hi, I am making these today, rolled out as thin as I can but they have risen quite a lot more than expected, and even after 20 mins at 130 they are still soft and completely uncooked. Have turned the temp up and put them back in but not sure what I’ve done wrong? Going on for 30 mins in now and not really cooking well.

    • leylakazim
      December 8, 2018 / 18:26

      Hi Steph! If they’re rising more than expected, I suspect you’ve put a bit too much bicarb of soda in. Too much rise might end up making it soft / chewy rather than crisp with a snap. I would perhaps try keeping them in a low oven, to see if dehydrating them helps crisp them that. Or just enjoy them as (I’m sure the flavour will still be great) and fingers crossed you nail these next time round! Hope that helps!

  4. Jo Dobbs
    December 8, 2018 / 15:54

    Can the biscuits be frozen after they’ve been made? I’d like to make them in advance!

    • leylakazim
      December 8, 2018 / 18:22

      Hi Jo! I don’t think you can freeze cookies / biscuits once they are made. But you can certainly freeze the dough – it freezes and thaws really well, with the same end result!

      • Karen
        December 9, 2018 / 20:55

        I have frozen the biscuits and they were quite fine.

        • Sahra
          December 18, 2018 / 15:21

          I freeze cookies all the time, I prefer it to freezing the dough of you plan to consume them in 1-3 months.

  5. Elzė Hoogduijn
    December 24, 2017 / 22:17

    Hi! Amazing taste! Love it!
    One question – how to keep them crunchy for longer than one day? They become soft after 30 hours or so 🙁

    • leylakazim
      December 27, 2017 / 16:13

      Thank you so much Elze! I’m glad you like them 🙂 You need to keep them in an air tight container – something with a rubber seal or with clip locks so no air gets into it at all. In something like that, they will stay crunchy for a couple of weeks or so!

  6. ZL
    December 19, 2017 / 20:41

    I have been making pepparkakor cookies for 25 years but did not have my recipe with me while away. These were terrible to roll out, butter would ooze out, and could barely be formed into nut shapes after we gave up on trying to roll them😣

    • leylakazim
      December 20, 2017 / 17:47

      Hi ZL! It sounds like your dough was too warm when you were rolling it out, and so the butter melted and started oozing. The dough should still be cold and firm from the fridge. If you handle it too much, the better will get too warm. Hope that helps!

      • Karyl Weldon-Griffin
        January 28, 2018 / 20:06

        Here’s a tip I discovered during a marathon cookie making session at Christmas with friends. Cut your refrigerated dough into portions and keep all but the one you are rolling in the fridge. The kitchen was warm – marathon cookie baking ends up with a warm kitchen – so I chilled my baking stone – and rolled on top of it between two sheets of parchment paper. Worked like a charm to both keep from warming the dough too much by handling, and it didn’t stick to the rolling pin.

        We also managed about 140-160 cookies because we rolled them super thin too. And in just a month two of us have polished them all off. Made a batch of dough yesterday – just letting it get a littler warmer so I can start rolling!

  7. Tania
    November 14, 2017 / 19:13

    I can’t find molasses, any suggestions???

    • Jules
      December 1, 2017 / 22:34

      I’ve seen other recipes suggest dark corn syrup.

      • HennyLou
        December 6, 2017 / 19:59

        Treacle…. its the same thing (British name) Molasses is American

    • Karen
      December 9, 2018 / 20:57

      I used dark corn syrup and the cookies turned out fabulous.

  8. Elsa
    November 11, 2017 / 20:44

    I love these cookies, they are my favorite, but every year when I prepare them I have the same problem. When I let the dough in the fridge to cool, I get a very hard dough, like a rock almoste, hehe. Is that normal? How can I thin the dough?

    • leylakazim
      November 13, 2017 / 12:04

      Hi Elsa! Yes your dough will be quite hard when you take it out of the fridge. Don’t try to roll out the whole thing! You need to break off portions of the dough and with your hands, mound into a round and squash down. Then 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. Then repeat the process, breaking off another piece, until you’ve used it all up. I hope that helps!

  9. Nazlı G.
    November 10, 2017 / 16:52

    OH these look delicious! I’ve been using the same gingerbread cookie recipe for the past five years or so, decided to switch things up a bit and stumbled upon this beauty. If you don’t mind me asking, what do you mean by pepper, black pepper or red? And after taking the upper rack down and rotating it, how many minutes do you recommend I keep baking the lower rack for, 5-10? Can’t wait to go back home (dorm life inhibits baking) and try these out. Thanks for sharing the recipe, ellerinize sağlık!

    • leylakazim
      November 13, 2017 / 12:03

      Hi Nazli! I mean black pepper. And you’ll be able to tell when the ginger snaps are done when they are hard to touch and just darkening around the edges – around 15-20 minutes in total. Once you’ve rotated them, keep an eye on them as they won’t need much longer. Hope that helps! 😀

    • Heidi n
      December 10, 2017 / 10:16

      Amazing recipe, the way i remember my grandmother making them back in Norway. You say 130 fan oven….is that correct. Seems so low

      • Laura A Cunningham
        December 15, 2019 / 20:38

        That’s C, not F, I’m guessing.

  10. Adrien
    October 19, 2017 / 17:47

    Please someone tell me, how many mililitres is one cup? We don not use cups in my country 🙁

    • leylakazim
      October 23, 2017 / 02:38

      Here you go Adrien: http://www.metric-conversions.org/volume/cups-to-milliliters.htm

      • Jon May
        December 8, 2018 / 10:49

        ummm – US, Canadian or Metric cups? Heck I hate recipes with cups in, especially when the butter is in grammes! For fellow Europeans I’m about to use
        2 1/2 cups flour = 320g;
        1 1/4 cups dark brown sugar = 275g;
        1/4 cup molasses = 85g treacle.

        • Jon May
          December 9, 2018 / 13:49

          …and that worked perfectly! I made 120 wonderful, crisp biscuits – thank you Leyla

          (bottom oven in Aga, 40 minutes total per tray of 20)

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