I make these every Christmas and every time I do, I thank my friend Eric for sharing it with me, but I am especially grateful to his Swedish great-gran Ellen who was an amazing baker and lived until she was 98. As Eric says, “From what I can tell, Swedish cookies and a gin martini every night before dinner were the keys to her longevity.”
Note to those wanting to gift this cookie at the holidays: she is a humble, austere-looking cookie (that is delicious and crisp!) If you feel the need to tart her up, she looks very fetching with curlicues of white royal icing. —mtrelaun
dark brown sugar or muscovado
dark corn syrup or a mix of molasses and golden syrup
3 1/4 cups
each of ground cardamom, ground clove. ground ginger (so 6 tsp total)
In a large bowl, cream butter. In a separate bowl, combine sugars and rub them together with the orange zest to release the essential oils. Add the sugar-zest mixture to butter and combine.
Add egg and beat until homogenous.
Stir in corn syrup (or molasses + golden syrup) and water.
In a medium bowl, whisk dry ingredients together then add them gradually into your butter/egg/etc goo stirring until things coalesce.
Gather dough into a ball. Cut it in half to make 2 balls, flatten a bit and cover with cling film. Refrigerate dough overnight (24 hrs is best, but the cookies can still be made after 12.)
The next day when you're reading to roll production, preheat oven to 350° F.
On a lightly floured board, roll out dough so it is about 1/4" thick. Cut out your pepparkakors using a smallish, 2" in diameter cookie cutter. Any shape is fine so long as the cookie itself is petite. These should be 1-2 bite wonders, not more. As Eric’s great-gran said, “The store bought kind are like doorknobs. No. No. No. Don’t do it.” Space the cookies around 1"-1.5" apart.
Bake for 10-15 mn. It is a fine line to burnt so watch them. When cool, they should be crispy, not chewy.