Ta en pepparkaka så blir du snäll.
(Have a gingerbread cookie, and you will become nice.)
There are as many gingerbread cookie recipes as there are mothers. This is how my mother has taught me to make them in the typical Swedish style, and all other ways are of course wrong. Called pepparkakor in Swedish, the 17th century precursor to these cookies really did contain pepper, but that is long gone, and today much of the flavor actually comes from cardamom.
For 150–250 cookies:
Implements of destruction:
- any applicable measuring equipment
- pan in which to boil stuff
- wooden fork with which to stir stuff
- bowl in which to mix stuff
- knife or other implement sharp enough to cut butter
- (mortar with which to utterly crush spices that you cannot find ground)
- plastic wrap or plastic bag with which to wrap or encase stuff
- refrigerator in which to keep it cool
- table or other surface to get messy with flour and dough
- rolling pin with which to flatten stuff
- cookie cutters with which to cut cookies (no, really); popular themes include men and women, pigs, horses, stars, squiggly circles, plain circles, crescents, and Christmas trees
- thin metal spatula with which to pick up cookies intent on clinging to baking table
- one or more trays, buttered or with tray liners unless of the non-stick variety, on which to subject poor little cookies to devastating heat
- oven in which to subject said cookies to said heat
- government issue frosting administration device, or just a tray liner rolled up into a cone with a small hole at the tip
- Bring the sugar, molasses, and water briefly to the boil, stirring occasionally, and remove from the heat.
- Cut the butter up in chunks in a bowl together with the spices; pour the hot mix over it.
- Stir now and then until the butter has melted. Let it cool to about room temperature.
- Mix the flour and the baking soda, and add it to the bowl. Work the dough to a smooth texture with a wooden fork.
- Cover the bowl or place the dough in a plastic bag, and let the dough rest in the fridge for a day or two.
- Roll the dough out a little at a time with a rolling pin until it is very thin (a couple of millimeters at most; the cookies should come out crunchy, not chewy, once they cool), and cut with cookie-cutters, re-using the dough from between the cut-out cookies when rolling out more dough. Try to use only a moderate amount of flour on the rolling pin and on the surface on which you are working.
- Optionally decorate with half, peeled almonds.
- Place the cookies on a tray using a thin metal spatula and bake in the oven at 200–225°C (390–440°F) for 4–6 minutes, keeping an eye on them the whole time, as they burn easily. The cookies should take on a slightly tanned color, darker than their original brown, but not so dark brown as to have a burnt taste.
- Optionally decorate with frosting.
This dough is also good for making gingerbread houses.
Embracing my own eccentricity, I like to sometimes enjoy my gingerbread cookies with a bit of butter and mild cheese. I am an addict. You can be one too.
For The Ninjagirls Christmas Special1.
1) Disclaimer: I am neither a ninja, nor a girl. Sorry to upset and/or disappoint.