I am inspired by the stories and traditions passed down from generation to generation. Norwegian cooking at its simplest and most elaborate. That’s what you will find here. Seasonal cooking, local ingredients, local artisans, and simple gatherings.  READ MORE...

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December 2019

December 5, 2019

Spicy Norwegian Pepperkaker (Gingerbread Cookies)

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Spicy Norwegian Pepperkaker
Spicy Norwegian Pepperkaker

The crowning jewel of all the holiday cookies has to be pepperkaker “gingerbread”. With its unmistakable shapes and irresistible flavor, this aromatic and playful treat transcends the cookie tin with some of the most versatile uses for the season. They’ll be hanging by twine and marked for each day as an advent calendar, adorning lit-up trees, featured in stories and tales, turned into elaborate, candy-laden houses and even entire cities – like the world’s largest one in Bergen. There’s just no denying the imprint this cookie has on the holiday season.

In Norway, the holiday season usually kicks off with a baking session of pepperkaker late in November and just in time for the first Sunday of Advent. Over the years, I’ve tried various recipes from old fashioned ones to ones with a hint of cocoa. For me, the standout is always the welcome of warm spices that hit you with every bite. Not subtle, but rather strong enough to awaken the senses so you can really taste the ginger, cloves, cinnamon and black pepper. I played around with my recipe to ensure the spices are really pronounced and the dough is super pliable and easy to work with. This is by far my favorite pepperkaker recipe to date.

Spicy Norwegian Pepperkaker
Spicy Norwegian Pepperkaker
Spicy Norwegian Pepperkaker
Spicy Norwegian Pepperkaker
Spicy Norwegian Pepperkaker

The rich flavor from the spices and dark syrup is what makes pepperkaker so special. Each bite draws you in – bringing a little warmth to what could be a rather cold and dark season.

Spicy Norwegian Pepperkaker (Gingerbread Cookies)

Makes around 6-8 baking sheets full of cookies

  • 1 1/3 cup (300 g) butter
  • 1 ½ cups (300 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 ¼ cups (300 ml) Norwegian dark syrup “mørk sirup” or light molasses
  • 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground cloves “nellik”
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • 6 cups (720 g) flour

In a large saucepan, melt the sugar, butter and syrup or molasses together.  Stir in all the spices and set aside to cool completely.

Once the mixture has cooled down, mix in the eggs. In a separate bowl, combine the baking soda and flour. Add this to the syrup mixture and combine to form a smooth and relatively firm dough.

Place the dough onto a large piece of plastic and wrap tightly. Flatten it slightly in a round or square shape to make it easier to roll out. Place in the refrigerator for at least a couple of hours, preferably overnight.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Allow the dough to stand at room temperature for a little while before rolling out the dough.

Preheat the oven to 350°F / 180°C. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to a thickness of about 1/5 inch or ½ cm (the thinner the dough, the crispier the cookie will be) and cut into shapes as desired. If you have a small surface to work with, divide the dough and roll the pieces out one at a time. The more the dough is worked, the easier it becomes to roll it out. Place the shapes on the prepared baking sheet.

Bake in the center of the oven for about 8-10 minutes, until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.

You can decorate the pepperkaker with icing or powdered sugar or anything else your heart desires. Store in cookie tins and enjoy!

Nevada Berg

Nevada is a utah native and norwegian by heart. When not crafting culinary delights she enjoys her family time and tending to her animals. You most certainly can find her perusing her property for wild berries.

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  1. Connie Bowers says:

    Need an easier/better print option for your recipes.

    • nevada says:

      Hi Connie. Thanks for your suggestion – will look into this. At the moment, it’s not possible to click print on the recipes, but you can copy and paste over to a document to print. Happy holidays!

  2. Kristin D says:

    I’m so excited to see this recipe! This was a family favorite growing up. Do you by chance know if you could bake these in little balls instead of rolling them out?

    • nevada says:

      I’m so glad to hear that! To answer your question, I have never tried baking these like regular cookies, but I think you certainly could. Just flatten the tops a little and increase the baking time. I imagine they will be softer on the inside and crispier on the edges. Do let me know how they turn out for you.

  3. Kristin D says:

    @nevada. Thank you for your advice! They turned out great! I flattened the top on some and not on others and they both are delicious, but each have a different texture. They took about 10 minutes to make. Tusen takk!

    • nevada says:

      I’m so glad to hear that! Thanks for sharing how the batch turned out as I’m sure others might like to try this method as well!

  4. Sonny says:

    These are gorgeous!
    Would you mind sharing your technique for decorating with powderd sugar. Is there a trick to get it to stick?
    God jul

    • nevada says:

      Thanks, Sonny! I use stencils and sift the powdered sugar on top. Then I am careful to not stack them, so the powdered sugar stays on 🙂

  5. Jennifer Velasquez says:

    Love that this has black pepper in it.My mother is 100% Norsk and she used to make these at Christmas.

    Would dark cornsyrup work or does it lack the molasses flavor?

    Also, would 3 hrs be enough to cool the dough?

    • nevada says:

      It’s just not pepperkaker without the pepper 😉 I would stick to light molasses for that rich flavor if you can. And yes, 3 hours should be plenty of time for the dough to cool. Hope you enjoy them!

  6. Stephanie says:

    I want to try these my kids, I think they’d love it. Has anyone tried making them eggless?

  7. Marit says:

    Hello! Would like to try this this weekend, but a bit indirekte about the baking soda…. Am I to use a tablespoon natron? Sounds like a lot? 😊

  8. Meryl Sprague says:

    Can you use Lyles syrup for peppakaker?

  9. Christine says:

    This recipe is so delicious! The dough was a dream to work with and created cookies that were sturdy for decorating with kids AND really delicious.

  10. Ali says:

    Hi Nevada!

    I absolutely love these cookies and have made them a few times, but every time I make them my gingerbread always puff up in the oven and lose their shape. Any idea why this would be, and how to stop that from happening?

    Thank you!

    • nevada says:

      Hi Ali! So happy you love the recipe and I’m sorry they are losing their shape for you. I would check to make sure the dough is chilled enough, so it’s not too warm and soft. Also, bake on parchment paper or directly on a cookie sheet, this way they take the heat more directly. Let me know if this helps!

  11. Britta says:

    Excited to try these! Does the dough freeze if I make ahead/can I chill for a few days?

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