Svenska Pepparkakor Swedish Spice Cookies

Today I’ll be sharing Svenska Pepparkakor, which are Swedish spice cookies. My Mormor (Swedish for grandmother on my mother’s side) used to make a full batch of these delightful cookies at Christmastime. The recipe I’m sharing with you is only a quarter of her recipe, but rest assured, if you roll out the dough thin enough, you’ll still get about 300 cookies from this recipe. With all the other cookies I make, I don’t usually need more than that for my holiday sharing, but this recipe can be easily doubled, or more, if you like.

She used to make a huge batch so she could share them with her neighbors, Bingo buddies, friends, and, of course, family. These cookies are best made a week or so in advance of when you’ll need them. The spices will have more time to mingle and you’ll find a much stronger flavor than when they are fresh out of the oven. She would allow my brother and I to sneak a sample while she was baking them, but then they were put away until just before Christmas. Keep these Swedish Spice Cookies stored in an airtight container and they’ll stay perfectly fresh and delicious for a couple months. They’ll probably be long gone before they get stale anyway, but, if you find that you have too many to eat, wrap them up in freezer bags then store them in the freezer for up to a few months more.

The dough for these cookies is very easy to make, the only tricky part is rolling out the dough thin enough. To be made correctly, it needs to be almost paper thin so that the cookies get crispy. Be sure to sprinkle enough flour on your work surface so that your dough won’t stick and you’ll need to be mindful of the thickness of your rolled out dough so that your cookies bake consistently and you get an even crispness of each cookie. Roll the dough too thick and the cookies will turn out soft instead.

These cookies can be decorated with your favorite cookie icing, but they have so much flavor it’s not really needed. Besides the icing will soften the cookie. So instead, try sprinkling some pearl sugar on them to give them an added layer of crunch and decoration.

Svenska Pepparkakor (Swedish Spice Cookies)

A delightful thin, crispy spice cookie. A nice difference from gingerbread.

Course Cookies
Cuisine Swedish
Keyword Spice
Servings 300 cookies
Author Lisa York

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup dark Karo syrup
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 12 tbsp butter
  • 4 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsp cloves
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp orange peel
  • 4-5 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda

Instructions

  1. In a small sauce pan, boil syrup, sugar, cream, butter and spices until thoroughly blended. Set aside to cool to room temperature. 

    Pepparkakor mixture
  2. In a separate bowl, combine baking soda and flour. (Do not sift the flour.)

  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

  4. Gradually add the flour to the syrup mixture. 

    Pepparkakor add flour
  5. Continue adding the flour and stirring until well blended. When the mixture becomes to hard to stir, you’ll need to continue adding the flour by kneading it into the dough until it is fully incorporated.

    Pepparkakor add flour 2
  6. You may not need all of the flour, and depending on the climate, you may need extra. Just add the flour until the dough is firm and no longer sticky. Keep in mind that while you are rolling out the dough, your dough will acquire more flour that is picked up from your work surface. With your hands, shape the dough into a smooth ball until it has a glossy shine. 

    Pepparkakor dough
  7. Let the dough rest while you prepare the cookie sheets. Make sure cookie sheets are clean and free of crumbs. I use parchment paper so that I don’t get crumbs on the next batch of cookies. 

  8. Lightly flour your work surface. 

    Pepparkakor floured surface
  9. Using a knife, cut about 1/8 of a slice from the ball of dough.
    Pepparkakor dough divided
  10. Form the slice into a smaller ball of dough and flatten on your work surface.

    Pepparkakor dough ready to roll out
  11. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough until very thin. It should almost be see through. Notice the picture, you can almost see the work surface through the dough. 

    Pepparkakor dough rolled out
  12. Using your desired cookie cutters, cut the shapes in the dough. 

    Pepparkakor shapes
  13. Remove the shapes with a thin, metal spatula and place on the cookie sheet. Save the scraps to add back into the next section of dough you cut out. 

    Pepparkakor shapes 2
  14. These cookies do not spread much, so you don’t need to leave a lot of space between them. 

    Pepparkakor shapes ready for oven
  15. Bake for 4 minutes. (These cookies burn very quickly. If you have rolled them out as thin as possible, they could be ready in as little as 3 minutes. If they aren’t very thin, it could take as long as 8 minutes.) Once they start getting a toasty color around the edges, remove them from the oven. Allow them to cool on the sheet for a few minutes before removing them from the sheet. You may notice the cookies seem a little soft. They’ll continue to cook on the hot cookie sheet. While they’re cooling down, they’ll start to get crispier. 

  16. Continue until you’ve used up all the dough. 

  17. Store in an air tight container or cookie tin.

    Pepparkakor

For more great Christmas recipes, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. 

What are your favorite holiday treats? Let me know in the comments below. 

Chocolate Cupcakes with whipped cream filling

cupcakes2
cupcakes2

I chose to make these chocolate cupcakes today for several reasons. First, these cupcakes are one of my favorites as well as a favorite among my friends and family that have had them. So, I’m counting on them being a hit for some other special people, too. Second, I recently purchased some new Russian piping tips that I have been dying to try, so this is the perfect opportunity to see if they measure up to the hype.

Russian piping tips
Russian piping tips

As some of my readers may have noticed, I’ve been on hiatus for a few months. Well, my mother had been sick, so sharing my recipes had to be put on the back burner temporarily. She is getting better every day, but she had to spend time in a local nursing and rehabilitation facility. She made some friends while there and she took a liking to some of the staff as well. I wanted to show my appreciation with a small token of what I do best. CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES.

cupcakes
cupcakes

I also had a friend’s birthday recently. She doesn’t ask for much, but she has been hankering something chocolatey. So, these chocolate cupcakes should do the trick.

They’ve got lots of butter and eggs, so they’re rich and moist. As an added bonus, I like to add a little fresh, whipped cream, peanut butter or jelly to center of these chocolate cakes, so you get a little surprise in each bite. There’s no limit to the possible types of frosting to finish them off either.

If you need some tips on making the perfect texture of cake, I provide a lot of information in my article Italian Cream Cake and Tips For A Better Batter.

Icing, glaze, ganache, frosting, or fondant?

So, what’s the difference between them all? It depends on who you ask. You’ll probably get a different answer from from different parts of the country and different parts of the world as well. But, I’m going to tell you what I call them so we can be on the same page for the purpose of these recipes.

Generally, though, frosting is thick and fluffy. The mixture is made from a base of dairy products, such as butter and/or cream cheese, and powdered sugar. It’s fluffy enough to stand on its own in various shapes made by piping, yet thick enough to spread with a spatula.

Icing generally has a thinner, glossier texture and is made with a powdered sugar base and water or milk and often times food coloring will be added. This mixture hardens somewhat when it dries, so it is perfect for decorating cookies.

A glaze also has a thinner, glossier texture and is made with a powdered sugar base, but generally uses a fruit juice for added flavor. This mixture can be easily poured over your scones, donuts or other pastries and cakes.

Chocolate ganache is the best of both of the worlds of frosting and icing. It’s thick enough to be a substantial addition to your cake, much like that of frosting. But it’s also thin and glossy, like an icing, that can just be poured over your desserts.

Fondant is a thick paste made of sugar, water and egg whites or meringue powder which, when dried, it can be rolled out into a sheet then laid out and formed around the cake.

Fun fact

Powdered sugar is also known as confectioner’s sugar, icing sugar or 10X sugar. The 10 in 10X represents the number of times the granulated sugar has been processed to make it into the fine powdery substance that easily dissolves. Powdered sugar is also a preferred sugar used by candy makers…or confectioners.

Cream filled Chocolate Cupcakes

A rich, moist, dark chocolate cake with a creamy filling.

Course Dessert
Keyword chocolate
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 15 minutes
Cooling and decorating 4 hours
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings 42 cupcakes
Author Lisa

Ingredients

For the cake:

  • 1 cup unsifted unsweetened dark cocoa
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 1 tbsp instant coffee granules + 1/4 cup warm water
  • 2 3/4 cups sifted flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup butter softened
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla

For the filling:

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Instructions

For the cake:

  1. In a medium bowl, combine cocoa with boiling water, mixing together with a wire whisk until smooth. Set aside to cool completely (about 2 hours).

  2. In a small bowl, mix the instant coffee granules with the warm water until thoroughly dissolved. Add to the cooled cocoa mixture.

  3. Sift the flour with the baking powder, salt and baking soda.

  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pan with liners. (I would recommend baking no more than 24 cupcakes at a time, otherwise you may need to adjust your baking time and temperature. This recipe would require baking the batter in two batches.)

    You can also make this recipe into a 3-layer cake using three, 9 inch cake pans.

  5. In a large bowl of an electric mixer, at the setting for creaming, cream the butter and the sugar for about 5 minutes until light and fluffy.

    Cake batter adding flour
  6. Add the vanilla then the eggs, one at a time, just until you can no longer see the ingredient you just added. Overmixing will flatten your fluffy butter mixture.

    Gradually adding the cocoa
  7. At low speed, beat in the flour mixture (in fourths), alternately with the cocoa mixture (in thirds) beginning and ending with the flour mixture, just until you can no longer see the ingredient you just added. Overmixing will flatten your fluffy butter mixture and will alter the structure of your cake.

    Mix just until the ingredient is added
  8. Fill cupcake cups approximately 3/4 to the top of the liner and bake for 13-15 minutes. There should be a few moist crumbs on a toothpick when inserted to the middle of the cupcake. The cakes will finish baking while they are cooling down. Allow the cakes to cool for about 1 hour before proceeding to the next step.

    (If you prefer the layer cake, divide the batter evenly between 3 cake pans, bake 25-30 minutes or until a few moist crumbs remain on a toothpick when inserted into the middle of the cake.)

    whipped cream2

For the filling

  1. Whip the heavy cream, vanilla and confectioner’s sugar on high speed of electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Refrigerate until ready to use. 

    Filling tip
  2. Once the cupcakes are cooled, using a decorating bag fitted with a filling tip, fill the bag with the whipped cream. Insert the tip into the cake and gently squeeze until the cupcake is filled with the cream.

    (If making the layered cake, simply spread the whipped cream between layers.

    Glass stand
  3. If you have trouble filling your decorating bag, try wrapping the opening of the bag over the rim of a tall glass. This will keep the bag open while you are scraping your bowl and filling the bag. You can also rest your bag in the glass when not in use to avoid a messy work area.

  4. Decorate with your favorite frosting or check out my favorite recipes below.

    filled cupcakes

No matter how you choose to top these delicious miniature cakes, any one of the following recipes will be sure to please the crowd. I’m partial to either buttercream, ganache or cream cheese frostings for cake and not really a fan of fondants because I prefer a fluffy, whipped texture as opposed to the sheet of sweetness. I’ve only used store bought fondant before, but I have a few recipes I want to try. Who knows? I may change my mind and give fondant another chance. Look for my recipes for icings and glazes in the near future. I think you’ll enjoy the pastries that go along with them too. 

Buttercream Frosting

Course Frosting
Keyword Frosting
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Author Lisa

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup crisco I use butter flavored crisco
  • 4 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 2 tbsp milk if needed
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Instructions

  1. Beat butter and shortening until light and fluffy. (The butter should be at room temperature. If they are too soft, return to the refrigerator for a few minutes.)

  2. Add the vanilla.

  3. Gradually add the confectioner’s sugar. Continue beating until the frosting is smooth and creamy.

  4. You may not need all the confectioner’s sugar. If your frosting becomes to thick, gradually add a teaspoon of milk at a time until you reach the desired consistency.

    buttercream divided

Cream Cheese Frosting

Course Frosting
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Author Lisa

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter softened
  • 8 oz cream cheese softened
  • 4 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tbsp milk if needed

Instructions

  1. Beat butter and shortening until light and fluffy. (The butter should be at room temperature. If they are too soft, return to the refrigerator for a few minutes.)

  2. Add the vanilla.

  3. Gradually add the confectioner’s sugar. Continue beating until frosting is smooth and creamy.

  4. You may not need all the confectioner’s sugar. If your frosting becomes to thick, gradually add a teaspoon of milk at a time until you reach the desired consistency.

    cream cheese frosting

Peanut Butter Frosting

Course Frosting
Keyword Peanut butter
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Author Lisa

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup crisco
  • 1/2 cup butter softened
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 4-5 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Instructions

  1. Beat butter and shortening until light and fluffy. (The butter should be at room temperature. If they are too soft, return to the refrigerator for a few minutes.)

  2. Add the peanut butter.

  3. Add the vanilla.

  4. Gradually add the confectioner’s sugar. Continue beating until the frosting is smooth and creamy.

  5. You may not need all the confectioner’s sugar. If your frosting becomes to thick, gradually add a teaspoon of milk at a time until you reach the desired consistency. If the frosting is to thin, gradually add additional confectioner’s sugar.

    cupcakes

Chocolate Ganache

Course Frosting
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Author Lisa

Ingredients

  • 8 oz semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tsp instant coffee granules

Instructions

  1. In a double boiler over simmering water, melt chocolate.

  2. Add instant coffee granules. Stirring until smooth.

  3. Gradually add the heavy cream and continue stirring until well incorporated and mixture is smooth and creamy.

  4. Decorate by dipping the tops of the cupcakes into the mixture or pouring the mixture over the cakes. The mixture will harden as it sits. 

    cupcakes

Chocolate Frosting


Course Frosting
Keyword chocolate
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Cooling time 1 hour
Total Time 20 minutes
Author Lisa

Ingredients

  • 6 oz semisweet chocolate
  • 1/2 cup light cream
  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar

Instructions

  1. In a medium saucepan over medium low heat, combine the chocolate pieces, cream and butter.

  2. Stir until all chocolate pieces have melted and mixture is smooth.

  3. Remove from the heat.

  4. Gradually add confectioner’s sugar whisking until sugar is fully incoorporated and mixture is smooth. It may be necessary to to place the pan in a bowl of ice to help with the cooling down process. 

  5. Decorate as desired. 

    cream filled chocolate cake

Cranberry Orange Scones

What would Sunday morning be without fresh baked, buttery delicious, melt in your mouth, scones. Whether you’re hosting a family brunch or just lounging around having a relaxing day, these scones won’t take up all your free time to make them.

I’ve experimented with many different variations of this recipe and have a few suggestions that are key to creating the best scones.

  1. The butter must be kept as cold as possible. I usually dice the butter into cubes then put it in the freezer until I’m ready to use it. If at any time, while you’re rolling and cutting the shapes, the butter becomes soft, you should put the dough in the refrigerator for 10 or 15 minutes. It’s important to keep the butter cold right up until you put the scones in the oven. Cold butter, as it melts in the dough, is what gives the scones a flaky texture.
  2. Using frozen cranberries as opposed to dried cranberries, will help keep the dough cold as you’re working with the dough.
  3. If you’re going to switch out the frozen cranberries for dried cranberries, you’ll need to increase your cream in the dough by 1/4 cup. The frozen cranberries will provide extra moisture to the dough where the dried cranberries need the extra moisture to  reconstitute to their original state.
  4. Likewise, if you’re using dried cranberries instead of frozen, you’ll need to reduce the sugar by 1/4 cup. Dried cranberries have added sugar, so you won’t need the extra sugar in the recipe.
  5. Make sure your work surface, your hands and your rolling pin are all well-floured while working with the dough.
  6. When you mix the dough, only work it until it is blended and form it into a ball. Don’t over mix it and don’t worry about lumps in the dough. You need to have lumps of butter in the dough for the scones to become flaky. Over mixing the dough will make them tough.

Cranberry Orange Scones

Easy to make scones. Great for breakfast, lunch, dinner or a snack. Make them as the recipe calls or swap your favorite ingredients. 

Course Breakfast, Lunch, Side Dish
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 20
Author Lisa

Ingredients

Scones

  • 4 1/2 cups flour divided
  • 2 tbsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup sugar divided
  • 1 tbsp orange zest
  • 3/4 pound cold unsalted butter diced
  • 4 extra large eggs
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen cranberries

Egg wash

  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 1 extra large egg

Glaze

  • 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
  • 4 tsp orange juice

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

  2. Dice butter into cubes and place in the freezer until you're ready to add the butter to the dough. Cut the cranberries in half and return to the freezer until you are ready to add them to the dough.

  3. Whisk one egg and the 2 tbsp of milk together to make an egg wash and set aside.

  4. In a large bowl of a stand mixer, combine 4 cups of flour, baking powder, salt, 1/2 cup sugar and orange zest. Add the butter and mix at the lowest speed. Be sure to scrape the bowl to ensure that the butter is mixed with the flour. The cubes of butter should reduce to about the size of marbles.

    Scones ingredients
  5. Lightly whisk the remaining 4 eggs and combine with the heavy cream. Gradually pour this mixture into the flour and butter mixture. Mix just until combined. 
  6. In a separate bowl, sprinkle 1/8 cup of sugar over the cranberries and mix throughout the cranberries then add to them to the dough. Continue to mix on the lowest speed of the mixer, just until the cranberries are mixed in.

  7. Sprinkle flour on your work surface, rolling pin and hands. Transfer the dough to your work surface. Knead the dough into a ball. Being careful not to overwork the dough. It is normal to have lumps and to see bits of butter.
  8. Roll the dough evenly over your work surface until the dough is about 1/2 inch thick. Flour a round cutter so the dough doesn't stick to it. You can use any shape cutter you wish, but the larger the cutter, the longer you will need to bake the scones. I use a 3 1/2 inch round cutter. Transfer the cut out shapes to the parchment-lined baking sheet.

    There will be remnants of dough leftover after cutting out the shapes, simply gather up the dough, form a ball and roll out the dough again. Repeat this until there is no more dough remaining.

  9. Using a pastry brush, brush the egg wash over the entire top of each scone and sprinkle with a pinch of sugar. Bake for approximately 15-18 minutes or until the top of the scones are slightly browned and the sides are firm.

  10. Transfer the scones to a rack and allow to cool to room temperature. Meanwhile, add the orange juice to the confectioners sugar and whisk into a smooth glaze. Once the scones have cooled, using a pastry brush, dab the glaze over the top of the scones.

    Scones with glaze

Have fun experimenting with the recipe. You can swap out different berries or other fruit, add nuts or chocolate chips. Yes, you can even add cheese for a scone that is better than a dinner biscuit. Let me know how your scones turned out in the comments below.