Pepparkakor (Swedish Ginger Cookies)

Here I go with the last of the Christmas cookie postings!  I’m 100% Italian and my husband Roger is 100% Swedish, so our kids get the best of both sides of their ancestry.  It’s been our tradition to make pepparkakor, Swedish ginger cookies, for Christmas for many years now.

When Roger’s mom, Alice, was still with us, she enjoyed our annual meal of Swedish potato sausage, new potatoes with dill sauce (another Swedish recipe), a vegetable medley, and Roger’s homemade Swedish limpa rye bread.  Pepparkakor, of course, followed for dessert.

Traditional pepparkakor are rolled very, very thin; and I must admit I have difficulty getting them to be as thin as they should be.  They are, however, quite delicious even at 1/4 inch thick, so don’t worry if it’s a hassle to roll them thinner than that.  The only caveat is that it will be difficult to tap and break the cookie according to the Swedish custom of making a wish on it if the cookie is thicker.  Oh, well, you’ll have another chance to make a wish if you’re having turkey tomorrow!

Pepparkakor (Swedish Ginger Cookies)

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  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda, dissolved in 1 tbl. water
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. cloves
  • 1/2 tsp. salt


In a bowl, cream together the butter and sugar.  Add the molasses and egg.  Stir in the remaining ingredients until well blended.  Cover with plastic wrap and chill four hours or more.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough to 1/8″ thickness.  Cut into rounds, hearts, or other desired shapes with cookie cutter.  Place on ungreased cookie sheets.  Bake at 350o for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the edges just start to turn brown.

Cool on a rack and store in an airtight container.  Makes approx. 4 dozen cookies.

The Wish Cookie, an Old Swedish Custom

Place a Swedish pepparkakor in the palm of your hand.  Then, make a wish.  Using the index finger of your free hand, tap the cookie in the middle.  Swedish tradition states that if the pepparkakor breaks into three pieces, your wish will come true.

Source:   Unknown—been making it for so long; can’t remember the source.

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