Christmas Cookies: Pepparkakor (Spice Stars)

These are my absolute favorite holiday cookie. I think of them as Pepparkakor although this recipe isn't comparable to any traditional recipe that might be out there. It's my adaptation of a spice cookie I've been making for years and in my evangelical non-Scandinavian opinion, it is superior. If you want to take it outside with your recipe so we can settle this like men, have your lieutenant send a missive to mine.

For a bunch of years, it was pretty much a guarantee that nobody in the house liked these but me. It's a very spicy, not-too-sweet dough that contains both white and black pepper. A bite starts out beautifully warm, then gives you a kick. I loved them and they were all mine. Until one year when I caught Redman dipping a finger into the dough when my back was turned. 

"That's spicy," I warned, "You probably won't like it."

He tasted warily, then beamed at me. "It's great!!"

Little shit...

So according to tradition, you are supposed to put one pepparkakor cookie in the palm of your hand, make a wish and press on it. If it breaks into three pieces, your wish will come true. If it doesn't, you still have cookies.

Broken cookies are still sweet.

I'm still glad we're here.

I still love us.

Pepparkakor (Spice Stars)

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter (Breathe, butter is good)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup corn syrup (Breathe. It's okay, it's Christmas. You can use dark or lite syrup. Or you could do 3/4 cup lite syrup and 1/4 cup molasses)
  • 1 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 5 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp cloves
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom (Mmmm, yes, Debbie, yes)
  • 1/2 tsp white pepper
  • 3/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • Zest of 2 oranges
  • White nonpareils, or sanding sugar

Melt butter with sugar, corn syrup and vinegar in a medium saucepan over low heat. Transfer to a large bowl and let cool.

Sift flour, baking soda, spices and salt into the bowl of your mixer. On low speed, gradually add the butter mixture to the dry ingredients. Once incorporated, stir in eggs and orange zest until batter is very smooth.

Divide the dough into two portions, wrap in plastic wrap, flatten into a disk and refrigerate at least 3 hours. OR freeze, this freezes very well. If frozen, let thaw in refrigerator overnight

Preheat oven to 350. Divide each disk in half, roll out on lightly flour surface. Cut shapes and transfer to baking sheet. Sprinkle with nonpareils. To keep the nonpareils from rolling and sliding all over, I give the cookies a blast of Pam before sprinkling.

Bake cookies until edges are golden brown, 7-8 minutes. Let cool on wire racks.

Divine with a cup of coffee. Celestial with a glass of red wine. Unbeatable at three in the morning when you're just passing through the kitchen to get some water.