Tis the season forrrrrr…. COOKIES! Not just any cookies, but ones that make your house smell good while you’re making them. Ones that are interactive and keep you and the kids busy on the Thanksgiving and winter break. Tis the season forrrrrr… pepperkaker!
OMG, I’m sitting here imagining your face the moment you read that and went “Time for what?!” I know, I’d never heard of them either. I got the initial recipe from the back of a spice bottle so I was very curious about these Norwegian holiday cookies. They are similar to gingerbread cookies that you roll and cut out, but there’s a kick to them.
The kicker is pepper. Hence the name I suppose. (Maybe I’ll call them pepperkickers instead of pepperkaker.) A quick read of the recipe about the gingerbread spices explained that the mix was ginger, coriander, cardamom, black pepper, cinnamon, and nutmeg. So yep, real pepper in the cookies.
I wasn’t quite convinced of this idea in a cookie, but after tasting them it actually works. You get the gingerbread flavor, and then the spice hits you. In a really nice way. Who knew?! OK, clearly the Norwegians knew but I didn’t.
The basic recipe was from the bottle but I changed it up a bit to remove the dairy, cut back on the sugar, and a few other tweaks. I also cut the recipe in half since I don’t need that many cookies sitting around screaming my name. It was pretty easy to change the recipe up, and I also have about half the packet left for another recipe.
We cut our cookies out into gingerbread bears, trees, and tiny Texas shapes. We went basic with the icing and decided to not load them up with sprinkles or colors. The Texas ones are trouble because they were bite sized, and far too easy to pop in your mouth each time you walked past the plate. You’ve been warned. Make your cookies big. Just do it and thank me later.
Dairy Free Norwegian Pepperkaker
- 1 1/2 tsp ground flaxseed + 1 Tbsp water OR 1 1/2 Tbsp egg substitute (See notes)
- 3 Tbsp (45g) molasses
- 3 Tbsp (42g) dairy free butter OR real butter
- 1 Tbsp (15g) sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp gingerbread spices (See notes for mixture)
- 1 1/4 cup (150g) all purpose flour
- 1 pinch salt
- 1/8 tsp baking powder
- 2 tsp water (if needed)
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. If you’re using the “flax egg” instead of egg substitute, mix the ground flaxseed and tablespoon of water in a small bowl and set aside for about 5 minutes to thicken. Beat the flax egg or egg with the molasses and butter until creamy.
Stir in the dry ingredients and mix well until it forms a ball. Depending on your weather, you may need to add up to 2 tsp of water to get the ingredients to come together. Knead it gently with your hands in to a non-sticky ball.
Roll the dough out onto parchment paper or a lightly floured surface until it’s about 1/4 inch thick. Cut into fun shapes and place on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake the cookies at 350 degrees for about 8-10 minutes until done. I like my cookies just a tiny bit soft and not crispy so I baked mine for closer to 8 minutes.
Remove from the oven and cool completely before decorating. Makes approximately 8 large gingerbread men depending on the size of your cookie cutter. You can easily double this recipe if you want more cookies.
For recipes that call for less than an egg, I typically use what’s known as a “flax egg” because it’s easier than using only part of a real egg or needing egg substitute. For one whole flax egg, you mix 1 Tbsp of ground flaxseed with 2 Tbsp of water and let it sit. It turns into the consistency of egg whites and is a great option in baked things like this. I used half a flax egg for the recipe above, but you can use egg substitute or real egg instead.
You want the dough to come together into a ball that you can roll out for cutting. The dairy free butter I used has less moisture than real butter or margarine so I had to add 2 tsp of water to get the dough into a ball. See how your dough turns out before adding the extra water. You may not need it and you don’t want sticky dough that’s hard to roll.
I used the spice mix below and you’ll have a little extra to use in other things like sprinkling in your coffee, adding to oatmeal, pinching into yogurt.
Gingerbread Spice Mix
- 1/2 tsp ginger
- 1/4 tsp coriander
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp cloves
- 1/4 tsp coriander
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
You could also make a bigger batch and turn these into a true gingerbread house. Have fun with it and let me know what you think of the surprise kick in the cookies.