Scandinavian style Ginger thins or Gingerbread biscuit, tasty accessories, recipe and history
This is an article about the Scandinavian style ginger thins or Pepparkakor as we call them in Sweden. After some research for ginger thins and gingerbread biscuits I realise that there are many names to this cake and it can also mean a more thicker biscuit than the typical Swedish pepparkaka in some countries. So in this hub I will call them pepparkakor or Swedish thins so there is no mistake of what I mean!
Swedish Thins are very traditional to eat in Sweden during Christmas time. Although we eat them all year around they are on of the things that I must have during Advent and Christmas time to get that special Christmas feeling.
Swedish Thins are delicious as they are but they can also be eaten in many other different ways and you can combine them with other flavors to get new and sensational taste experiences!
But first a little history about Swedish Thins or gingerbread biscuits!
In Sweden we call this biscuit "pepparkakor" which in English is ”pepper cookies”. The name has its origin from the 1400s when the cookie came to Sweden for the first time when the recipe really contained pepper! There are different stories about the origin of this cookie and it may origin from Germany. One of the first gingerbread cookies in Sweden is said to have been baked by nuns in Vadstena convent in Sweden where pepparkakor was used as drugs for various diseases. And since the cookies were really spicy and contained ginger, cardamom, honey and pepper I guess they were pretty healthy to eat. These spicy cookies were sold in pharmacies and were used as remedy for many different conditions like diarrhea, constipation, depression, cholera, toothache and all kind of symptoms and disorders. Nowadays there are normally no pepper in the gingerbread cookies and we eat them only because they are so tasty and easy to eat!
There are many different varieties of pepparkakor or gingerbread biscuits in Europe. They can be hard, soft or chewy depending on the recipe and the country.
This is an old Swedish recipe for Scandinavian-style Thins or Gingerbread biscuits that I got from my mother:
The Scandinavian thins are also said to make those who eat them in a better mood so they become nicer! We often say: take some pepparkakor so you will be nice! This is an old myth that have remained since 1490 when the King in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Kung Hans, was ordinated gingerbread biscuits to ease his bad temper. Since the myth still remains I guess the cure must have been successful!
Other fun traditions
The gingerbread biscuit is also used as a children's game as a ”wish cookie” that have remained during the centuries. At first it was a game used to wish Christmas gifts but now it is a game to wish something else. Do like this: Put a cookie in you open palm and push it in the middle. If it breaks in three different parts you may wish something that you want to come true. But you must keep the wish silent to yourself or it will not happen at all!
We have a special day for this biscuit: ”Pepparkakans Dag” that occurs December 9! The day is dedicated to gingerbread cookies because of the long history and tradition this cookie have in Sweden.
- 300 gram butter
- 200 gram brown sugar
- 200 gram sugar
- 1,3 cup or 3 dl cream
- 1,3 cup or 3 dl syrup
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp ground cloves
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 1,3 kg flour
- Mix butter, brown sugar, sugar, cream and syrup or molasses to a smooth dough, preferable in an electric beater
- Mix the spices and add them to the dough
- Add the flour, little at time and work the flour into the dough. If you don't use an electric beater you can work the flour into the dough by hand.
- Cover the bowl with plastic rap and let it rest in refrigerator at minimum over the night. If you want, you can also leave it to rest for a day or two.
- Take out the dough and cut out a piece that is enough for you to work with to start with
- Let the rest of the dough rest in the refrigerator until you need a second piece. This will prevent the dough to get sticky. Take out shapes in the dough and put the cookies on a cold oven plate to avoid bubbles in the cookies.
- Turn the oven to 200 °C.
- Roll out the dough very thin, 3-4 mm thick
- Bake in the middle of the oven for 4-5 minutes or so depending on your oven. Watch them because they will get burn very quickly!
If you want lactose free cakes: replace the butter with milk-free margarine
If you want them to be gluten-free: You need to use 1/4 more gluten free mix than the required amount of flour. You also need to add 1 egg for every 3,4 cup (8 dl) flour you use to the gluten-free mix.
The biggest event where Swedish Pepparkakor are tradition is Advent, Lucia and of course Christmas!
We bake them in traditional forms like hearts, stars, pigs, gingerbread men and gingerbread women!
The traditional way to eat them during Christmas time is gingerbread cookies served with coffee or glogg. You can read more about Glogg here!
I must share some great ways to serve Swedish Thins in ways that will give you a new and sensational taste to your Swedish Thins! The recipes are easy to do and you can do them just before you light the candles and heat up the gloegg!
Combine Swedish Thins with blue cheddar!
Pepparkakor are sensationally tasty combined with Blue cheddar. Do like this:
Mash 200 gram Blue cheese with 200 gram Philadelphia cream cheese.
The cheese will be enough for about 25 gingerbread cookies.
Put a tablespoon of cheese on a gingerbread cookie, add another gingerbread cookie and press gently.
More spicy busciuts
If you want to try more hot Swedish Thins you can try this recipe when you bake gingerbread cookies:
Dust with extra fine ground chili pepper over the cookies before baking them. Remember to be very careful with the chili pepper and make sure it is only a very small amount on each cookie.