Not Your Traditional Pepparkaka

On our way to Asia we stopped a couple of days in Sweden to visit my family. Elsa is the first grand child in the family and everyone was super excited to see her. During our stay she has been played with, danced with, fed, sung for and – of course – been given Christmas gifts. This meant that Luise and I could focus on eating Christmas food, taking walks in the snow and trying out a new recipe for Swedish Pepparkakor, my all time favorite Christmas cookie.

Pepparkakor or Swedish Gingerbread Cookies are very thin, crunchy, sweet and full of flavor. The traditional recipe calls for spices, sugar, butter, flour, molasses and sometimes even cream. Since we try to avoid most of those ingredients on this blog we decided to make our own version. It wasn’t all easy making a new recipe for pepparkakor since I have a life-long cake crush on the traditional recipe. Luise might kill me for writing this (since she doesn’t agree) but quite frankly, no oil in the world can fully replace the taste of butter in a cookie. We decided to try it anyway. And after a couple of not very good batches we came up with this recipe which not only got a similar texture and taste, but also adds some extra flavor and crunchiness to them. They are vegan, uses a more wholesome flour and less refined sweeteners. A not so traditional Pepparkaka with an almost traditional taste.

As you can see on the following pictures Sweden was drowned in snow and the contrast from sunny California could not have been bigger. It felt unreal walking around in this cold climate, knowing that we would be in a steaming hot Asia a couple of days later.

We are actually already in Beijing, China when we post this, but more on that in our next post. China has blocked facebook, twitter and youtube, so we won’t be able to tweet until we arrive in Thailand.

Swedish Pepparkakor / Vegan Gingerbread Cookies
Makes around 30 depending on the size of the cookie cutters

1 cup / 150 g almonds
15 fresh soft medjool dates, pitted
5 tbsp coconut oil, room tempered
3 tbsp maple syrup, agave syrup or clear honey
1-2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground clove
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup / 250 ml whole wheat spelt flour
1/2 tsp baking soda

Grind the almonds into a fine flour in a blender or a food processor. Add dates, oil, maple syrup and spices and pulse until everything is mixed into a sticky dough. Sift together flour and baking soda and start kneading the flour into the dough, little by little. When you can form the dough into a round moist ball that doesn’t stick to your fingers, the dough is ready. Put it in the fridge over the night or for at least three hours.

Set the oven to 300°F (150°C). Line a baking tray with baking paper. Roll out the dough as thin as possible, roughly 1/8-inch (3 mm), between two sheets of plastic wrap or baking paper, it keeps the dough from sticking to the baking pin. Cut it with cookie cutters and transfer it to the baking paper. This dough is a little bit more brittle than normal gingerbread dough, so you need to be careful when transferring it to the parchment paper.

Bake for 9-12 minutes, depending on the size and thickness of the cookies. Keep an eye on the oven and make sure not to over bake them. Since they contain almonds they will burn easily.

Photos by David & Johanna Frenkel