Sunday, December 9, 2012

Norwegian Pepper Cookies a.k.a. Pepperkakers

When we asked our foreign exchange student, Maren, which cookie she would miss this year, she said, "Pepperkakers," so naturally, I wanted to make some, even though the word "pepper" kind of threw me off--Who would want to eat cookies that tasted like pepper?! Well, it turns out that pepperkakers are delicious, a lot like gingerbread cookies, and not really peppery.

I found this recipe via MORTEN RAND-HENDRIKSEN and Pinterest.

My first impression about baking these cookies was, "I don't know; people are saying they are a bit difficult to make--sticky, flour issues, etc." but I had absolutely no problem making them as shows on Mr. Hendriksen's site, though I did have to do a couple of conversions (Thank you, Google.).



 4 and 1/3 sticks of butter
2.5 cups of sugar
1 and 1/4 cups molasses
1 1/4 cups whipping cream

8 cups flour (I used unbleached, all-purpose)
1 1/2 tsps ginger
1 1/2 tsps ground cloves
1 1/2 tsps ground pepper
3 tsps baking powder
5 teaspoons cinnamon

First, start the butter to melting in a 2-quart saucepan on the stove.
While it's heating, mix the spices into the top half of the flour 
(just to be sure they are distributed fairly)

When the butter is melted, add the sugar and molasses, and stir until the sugar is dissolved.
(This took about five minutes on low-medium heat.)

Remove it from the heat and add the cream.

At this point, I poured the contents of the pot into my mixer and began to add the flour gradually, mixing all the while. I used exactly 8 cups of flour; you may need to add more if the dough seems very wet. In the end, it has a beautiful caramelly color. This is what mine looked like after the flour had been added.

The recipe I followed said the dough would be quite difficult to stir by hand, but I had no issues whatsoever with my mixer.  Turn it into a bowl, cover with a sprinkle of flour and a towel,

and place in the fridge overnight "to rest."

When I took the dough out the next day, I found it to be quite firm but easy enough to work,
and it warmed up quickly when I kneaded it a little to roll out with a floured rolling pin. The recipe I read went on about how sticky the dough was and warned that I'd have to roll the cookies directly on the parchment paper. However, I found it no trouble at all to simply roll it out on our plastic laminate counter sprinkled with a little flour. Occasionally, I had to lift the cookies off with a metal spatula, but it really was minor.

Bake the cookies at 350 degrees for about ten minutes for a metal pan. (They took 4-5 minutes longer on my stone pans.)

Maren said she likes her pepperkakers thick, not thin, so I rolled plenty of both.

I prefer the thin, gingersnap quality of the thin cookies, but the thicker ones had a nice, slightly-chewy texture, and they were good, too.

Frost, if you desire, but I think these cookies are every bit as good plain. Enjoy!

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