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      2nd December

      This is the family recipe we use,
      but there are many more different ones 'out there'.
      I mentioned in a previous post about the Scandinavian tradition of baking seven different cookies, the most famous and most used being the PEPPERKAKE

      Christmas would not be Christmas for us without this cookie, the closest I can liken it to would be ginger cookies that many Europeans make.  The Norwegians, however, have an added 'secret' ingredient that makes all the difference.  Change what you bake this year and try this fantastic recipe instead of, or as well as and begin your own tradition of many several types of biscuits to welcome guests in your home.  The smell is truly Christmassy.

      As with all recipes, there are many versions of the same dish.  Over the years family and friends have tried and tested lots and we keep coming back to the same Old Pepperkake recipe.  All the ones that you can find on the Internet these days are just a variation on a theme, it is all down to personnel preference.

      What makes Pepperkake so great?  The special ingredient of pepper, a direct translation would read, pepper cake, but we are making biscuits/cookies.  Many recipes now seem to leave it out, but it gives a warmth to the final taste, so keep it in I say!

      Melted syrup, butter and sugar.  Big on calories, bigger on taste though!
      The above recipe also calls for ground cardamon, which I know can be difficult to obtain in the UK, I tend to stock up on visits to Norway, but that will not help many of you!  You can leave it out, but I think then some of the flavour and essence of the biscuits are lost, although they tell me that they are just as good without, I am still to be convinced of this.  However, there are two alternatives:
      • Try at your local Indian/Pakistani shop, they often sell this spice
      • Make your own, see below!
      Mixture with the added spices and flour.  It is VERY important
      to put this in the fridge overnight, it helps with the rolling out the next day!

      Using about 12 GREEN cardamom pods, peel the outer shell off carefully to reveal tiny black pellet seeds inside.  It is best to do this over a pestle and mortar to catch all the precious little seeds.  Pound the seeds to a fine powder, the smell should be wafting delicately upwards, this smell really reminds me of Christmas baking, Scandinavian style.  The powder can be stored in an airtight container for several months.  Remember though it is imperative that you use GREEN cardamons and not the black ones, their flavour is completely different, more eucalyptus like and that is not what we are after!

      It is really imperative to put the DOUGH MIXTURE into the fridge overnight, therefore MAKE IT THE DAY BEFORE you need to bake the biscuits.  This mixture also freezes very well, so you could freeze half the dough if you so wished.  I never do, as the biscuits keep well in an airtight container and actually I tend to have to make a second or third batch during this Advent season.  They seem to be so popular that the children take them in tins to school.  My sister is known for her Secret Santa parties and each year there is a demand for these biscuits to make an appearance!

      The dough mixture softens quickly once out of the fridge, it may seem hard to get out of the bowl, but this will soon change, so handle it as little as possible and put back into the fridge what you are not immediately using.  Roll out to normal biscuit depth and cut with seasonal shapes.  I tend to stick with the traditional heart shape, this too is very Norwegian and all shop bought Pepperkake will be this shape.  The children however like more of a variety to their shapes and we have all sorts.  I might be a bit of a hoarder with cookie cutters.  If I can bring myself to show you the vast collection, I may do so in a later posting!  We'll see.  We keep ours plain, but some are now adding white icing outlines to the outer edge of the cookies, less is more in this instance I think!

      Biscuits made and ready for school!

      With all these biscuits in the house, time to start hoping for visitors!

      If you look closely you can see the edge of one of the biscuits is
      a bit rough, they tend to expand a bit when baking, so make
      sure to leave pleanty of space between each one on the baking tray!

      By the way, I often dip into a fantastic book called Scandilicious Baking by Signe Johansen, it is full of Scandinavian treats, it's beautifully presented and I could pour over it for hours with a cup of coffee, actually I do!


      1. Reading this I can feel the smell of "pepperkaker".

      2. I NEED to try these..I have to bet though that I have more cookie cutters than you! Possibly 100.?! Where is the follow button?

        1. Hahaha Beth, that is a LOT! I will at some point take a photo of mine. The follow button, or one of them at least is on the right hand side of the page near the 'About Me' section x

      3. oh I am SOOOOO going to try these…yay! Loving your blog!

      4. I found the button..I have photographed our breakfast Christmas china and will FB it - don't think I can attach here....! That's inspiration from you!

      5. So this afternoon I have made my dough and it's in the fridge. Cannot wait to taste them tomorrow (ok so I naughtily tasted a little of the dough - braving the raw egg - and it was delicious)! A purist might not call them true pepperkake, I have adapted to make them low GI (diabetes friendly). I used 3oz agave syrup instead of 4oz golden syrup (agave is sweeter in taste), 100g xylitol instead of sugar and 300g of wholemeal plain flour. It's come together in a lovely dough so only time will tell! If only as well as being low sugar they were low in calories too... ;))

        1. Oooh, you have no idea how excited I am about this. Will be a get addition if they are as good as I am hoping. I too confess to nearly ALWAYS taking a nibble of the dough, it smells so divine and so I just need to ahve that little bit of Christmas taste before anyone else!!! Enjoy baking tomorrow, cannot wait to hear about the results!


      I will always read all comments and will try to reply but it may take me a couple of days, do please pop back and lets get a conversation going...