As a variation to the regular cinnamon-spiced Christmas cookies, I thought I’d make these Norwegian Pepperkaker Gingerbread Biscuits instead. I was recently at a Norwegian cooking class with Signe Johansen and she made these amazing biscuits for us. I remember tasting these light, crispy and spicy biscuits and really wanted to try making it myself.
Pepperkaker biscuits are made by every family during Christmas in Norway and everyone has their own recipe. It used to be made with black pepper and I thought that would be a bit overwhelming but I used a little bit to the recipe too. I looked at a few other recipes but not all the recipes seem to use pepper.
I found 2 recipes from Ocado and MyLittleNorway and used a combination of both of them to make my version of the Pepperkaker biscuits.
I made a batch for my Norwegian friend and she thought that they were quite good and not as sweet as most of the shop-bought ones. I’d urge you to give this very easy recipe a try.
This delicious dark and spicy Norwegian Pepperkaker Gingerbread Biscuits will be on your Christmas baking list every year once you’ve made these once.
Do you have a favourites Christmas cookie recipe?
Every Christmas, families in Norway make these delicious Christmas Cookies. As the name suggests, pepperkaker means literally pepper cakes. Although Christmas cookies are quite a new thing in Norway, these biscuits have been around for over 400 years. It is believed that an early version came on a ship from Germany along with lots of spices into the port of Bergen. We know that Germany has many great gingerbread cakes and biscuits.
Christmas in Bergen is when the Pepperkaker is really celebrated. The city creates the largest gingerbread creation, a whole city made from these biscuits.
They sometimes use pepper in the recipe but it really is just a variation on a gingerbread cookie. It's quite a simple recipe but quite delicious.
Things you can do with your Pepperkaker biscuits
You can decorate them with just icing sugar or pipe designs on your biscuits for a more festive theme. You can also make them into decorations for your Christmas tree if you bake them with a hole in it and add a pretty ribbon. These biscuits can also be used as place settings for the Christmas table. Just make bigger ones with enough space to pipe in the names of your family and guests.
- 150 g unsalted butter, softened
- 150 g caster sugar
- 70 ml treacle
- 50 ml golden syrup
- 75 ml whole milk
- 1 medium egg yolk
- 450 g plain flour
- 2 tsp ground ginger
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp cardamom, ground to a fine powder
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1 tsp ground cloves
- ¼ tsp finely ground black pepper
- ½ tsp fine sea salt
- This takes a bit of planning as the dough should be chilled prior to rolling out.
- I chose the easier method where these ingredients are melted in a pot first.
- Then add in the dry ingredients and stir well
- The mixture should be quite a sticky consistency
- Then wrap up the dough in cling film and put it in the fridge overnight or at least for a couple of hours.
- When you are ready to bake the biscuits, warm up the oven to 160C.
- Roll out the dough onto a baking sheet directly. Roll the dough really thin, about half the thickness of a pound coin. The biscuits should be thin and crispy. Just use your favourite cookie cutter and cut out the shapes on the baking sheet.
- Lift the dough from outside the cookie cutter instead of lifting the cookies itself. As the dough is really thin, this makes it much easier to handle.
- Bake the cookies on the top shelf for about 10 minutes. If it is not crispy enough, leave it in the oven for a couple more minutes. You will need about 3 -4 baking trays depending on the size of your cookie cutters.
- Transfer the first tray to a lower shelf and place the next tray on the higher shelf and repeat previous step.
- Take your gingerbread biscuits out of the oven and cool them on a wire rack.
- These will keep for about 4 weeks in an airtight container.
You can make a hole in them before you bake them and hang them on the tree or you can ice them or dust them with icing sugar for a snowy effect.
This recipe makes about 50 biscuits.