Baking Through Fika: Pepparkakor (Gingerbread Cookies)
When I first bought the Fika cookbook and saw this recipe I knew we’d be making these for Christmas. But as all things seem to go in my house, I almost forgot to make them! Here they are just in time.
I thought it was going to be this perfect afternoon with my two older kids. All laughter and smiles, Christmas music playing in the background, my little guy playing happily in his high chair watching us and not fussing. But once I started getting everything together for our cookie decorating I was reminded that rarely does that perfect experience you’ve created in your head actually come to fruition. Not only is that just the way life goes, but kids are just unpredictable. My daughter was having a longer than normal nap, and if we wanted to get finished before dinner we had to go on without her. My son was just impatient with the process of getting it all ready. I had the cookies made ahead of time, but had to make frosting and gather sprinkles, and then I had to explain to him what to do when all he wanted to do was do it! A few times while I was getting everything set up he said, “I think I’ll just go do legos/play outside/get my cars instead, mom.”
Thankfully he did sit down with me for a good while and decorate. And he liked it! He was even bummed when we ran out of cookies to decorate. I’d love to instill, if not a passion for cooking and baking, at the very least a good understanding of the kitchen in my kids. I recently started participating in Kids Chefs Club. Every month you receive a cooking tool, a card with activities and recipes, and access to online content to help your child learn about being safe in the kitchen, kitchen tools, nutrition and basic kitchen skills. The first month my son got the apron he’s wearing in the pictures below. Every time he helps me cook he wants to put it on. We are going on our third month. My kids’ desire to help me with meals has increased a great deal. That has been both very exciting and very challenging.
Cooking with kids takes longer and is messier than cooking on your own. It also takes a good bit of patience and a great deal of letting go! I like control in the kitchen, so letting my kids help has been tough, but really good for me, and it’s been great for them. If you’re interested in trying Kids Chefs Club here is a discount code that will give you 20% off any membership plan, either 3, 6 or 12 months. It’s valid until the end of the year, December 31, 2015! Just use HolidayFriends15 at checkout. If you need a last minute gift, this would be a great one.
Now about these cookies! They are spiced wonderfully and I really enjoy the crunch they have…if you bake them right 😉 I forget how much I love cardamom sometimes, but then I notice it in something and am reminded of how warm and unique and wonderful it is. These take a little time and patience. Instead of simply creaming butter with sugar to begin, you must boil together sugar, molasses and water which you then mix into the butter. After cooling it down, you make the dough. Then you have to chill the dough for at least 24 hours. If I’m not in a time crunch, this type of recipe is good for me since I often don’t have the freedom to complete a recipe start to finish without interruption from the kids. So spreading it out over a couple days was no problem! I wasn’t stressed thinking, “Oh! I have to finish those cookies!” I was able to finish part of the recipe and think, “Now I just have to wait. The recipe says I can take a break. Thank, you recipe.”
My first batch was the best. Working with a little dough at a time (since it warms up and gets soft pretty quickly) roll and cut your cookies. Bake for 4-6 minutes at 400°F, “but don’t overbake!” says the recipe. I did 5 minutes and they were a teensiest bit dark but good. My next batch I did for 4 and a half minutes. They were soft coming out of the oven and I just thought they’d set up nicely after they cooled. So I did 4 and a half minutes for the rest of them. After the first batch they did not get that nice crunch that pepparkakor should have. They still tasted great, but were on the soft side. I tried to bake them more after they’d cooled with not much luck. Now I know that while overbaking is bad, so is underbaking. You basically need perfect baking time. Good luck! I’d rather have them a little overbaked (but not burnt) to be honest, nice and crunchy. But that’s just me.
To decorate I used royal icing so that it would harden completely. It isn’t the tastiest, but you get mostly spice from the cookie and a simple sweet crunch from the icing. This recipe is what I used. It’s more than you need, and you will have to add some water to make it more pipe-able. Just a teaspoon at a time until you get it where you want it.
I’ve seen so many insanely beautiful holiday cookies all over blogs and on Instagram lately that I was feeling like I’d better do something awesome. But there’s no joy in trying to do something just as or more awesome as other people. So we had fun with these and didn’t worry about all those other people. Enjoy and have fun with these!
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup molasses
- 1/2 cup water
- 4 1/2 ounces butter cut into pieces
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- 1/2 tablespoon (equal to 1 1/2 teaspoons) ground cardamom
- 1/2 tablespoon ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 tablespoon baking soda
- 3 cups flour plus more for rolling
- Combine sugar, molasses and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Stir to make sure the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat and add in the butter, stir to melt completely. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
- Mix flour and the rest of the dry ingredients together. In the bowl of a stand mixer combine the wet and dry ingredients and mix to combine. Place dough in a plastic bag and chill for 24-48 hours.
- Preheat oven to 400°F
- Work with a handful of dough at a time (return what you’re not using to the fridge) and roll out on a floured surface, cut desired shapes and move to a cookie sheet.
- Bake for 4-6 minutes, until cookies begin to brown on the edges.