Friday, December 27, 2013

Well Christmas may be over, but my kitchen is still full of leftover cookies.

I meant to share my recipe for the decorated snowflakes the other day, but we spent 3 days just relaxing, cooking at home and enjoying the holidays together. I hope you, dear readers, also got to spend time with your loved ones.

So, this belated recipe is for my friend’s Swedish Gingerbread Cookies. My friend, Connie, has lived in Istanbul for 40-plus years since she is married to a Turk, and they made the city their home. She is a wonderful baker and cook and happily shared this recipe with me when we lived in the same city.

If you love gingerbread cookies, this is one recipe you’ll definitely want to save for next year’s holiday baking. The only problem is that the recipe makes a LOT of cookies. My batch yielded 132 cookies at last count. Of course, it depends on what size of cookie cutter you use too.

The more cookies you have, the more you have to share!
Besides snowflakes, I also decorated some Christmas trees and poinsettias with Royal Icing.
We have friends arriving from the U.S. this afternoon, so we’ll be showing them around Warsaw, introducing them to Polish vodka and ringing in the new year together. Hopefully, they will help eat my cookies too!

Happy holidays wherever you may be!
Swedish Gingerbread Cookies
Yields: about 150 cookies.

2 ¼      cup (490 g.)                             granulated sugar
5          oz. (150 ml.)                water
3          oz. (100 g.)                  molasses (Polish: melasa trzcinowa or Turkish: üzüm pekmezi)**
 1 ¼     Tablespoons                ground cinnamon
 1 ½     teaspoons                    ground cloves
1          Tablespoons                ground ginger
10        oz. (285 g.)                  butter, room temperature

 1         Tablespoons                cognac or brandy
2 ¼      teaspoons                    baking soda

 6         cups (1000 g.)             all-purpose flour or 480 typ Szymanowska Polish flour

In a large bowl placed over a simmering pot to create a bain marie, add the sugar, water spices and molasses into the bowl. Heat until the sugar dissolves, stirring often with a spoon. This will take about 10 minutes.

Remove the bowl from the heat.  Stir in the butter.  

Next, mix the baking soda with the cognac. Pour this mixture into the molasses mixture. 

When the ingredients have cooled to room temperature, add in the flour. The dough will be very thick at this point so I donned some plastic gloves and ended up “kneading” the dough a bit until all the flour was worked in.

Separate the dough into five or six pieces. Flatten the dough into small square packets about 1-inch thick. Wrap in plastic wrap and let rest about an hour.

Then, on a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough very thin. Cut out various shapes and place them on a baking tray lined with baking paper.

Bake at 350F/175C for about 10 minutes, until slightly browned on the edges.

You can re-roll your dough scraps to make more cookies.

Once cool, decorate your cookies with my Royal Icing recipe, candies and sugar sprinkles.

 **Note: Molasses seems to be difficult to find here in Poland. I found my molasses at the Organic Farma stores here in Warsaw. 

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jaz@octoberfarm said...

those cookies are like little works of art! i love the snowflakes! have a wonderful new years!

Joy said...

@Joyce, so sweet of you to say! I spent over 3 hours decorating these cookies! Have a fantastic New Year's too! :-)

Rachel Cotterill said...

Thanks for sharing - I will have to make this when I have lots of company on the way! :)

Just a quick question, do you always use grape molasses? I find that British molasses are quite different to the Turkish kind (and I don't know what it's like in Poland), although at the moment I have several kinds in the pantry.

BacktoBodrum said...

Are these peeperkokken? If so I love them and would probably have devoured them all myself.

Cuisine de Provence said...

Such beautiful cookies!
Wishing you a very Happy, healthy and peaceful New Year!

Anonymous said...

Oh, interesting, first ever recipe I have seen with brandy in the ginger bread dough, would love to try some of the biscuits. Maybe next year I'll stop by for it :-) There are quite a few different ones out there. Some add a little bit of lemon in theirs, also very tasty.
The old old recipes also has a pinch of black pepper but that's extremely unusual nowadays. - But the name in Swedish remains the same: "Pepparkakor" - pepper biscuits / cookies if directly translated.
If you don't decorate them, and most Swedes won't, or you only do a few they are brilliant to eat with some blue cheese on top!
Or broken into pieces on top of some yogurt, for breakfast.

Joy said...

@Rachel, yes, this recipe is perfect for sharing! The two of us simply can't eat nearly 150 cookies by ourselves! ;-)

The molasses I've found in Poland is similar to the blackstrap molasses (made from raw sugarcane or beets) I would use in the U.S. Pekmez always seemed like a slightly milder version of that, so was easy to sub in my recipes calling for molasses. I haven't used the British treacle much but I do know it has a slightly stronger flavor. Good luck experimenting! Have you used the "harup" molasses much?

@Annie, Hmm...first time I've heard of that, but I don't think so as my friend's recipe didn't call for black pepper. Still very tasty!

@Barbara, thank you! Hope you have a wonderful New Year too in Provence! We may be in your area this summer. :-)

@A-K, Thanks for filling me in on the Swedish ways! ;-)I like the idea of adding black pepper to these cookies, why not? I'm sure your mother or some family member has a really great recipe for pepparkakor too?

Hope you are settling in over there and learning the language! Not quite sure what are 2014 travel plans are yet, but if we head that way, we'll certainly let you know!

Anonymous said...

I have a few different recipes myself, can never decide which one to use. Two of my favourite ones are from friend of mine (I never liked the ones my mum made, but don't tell her. She made other things I loved, just not the gingerbread...), but there are probably as many different recipes as there are counties in Sweden, very much like Swedish Meatballs, there isn't one way of doing them but many. My paternal grandmother had one with blackpepper but as I said, they are extremely unusual nowadays, I think her recipe was from her grandmother, its from before 1900...
Gingerbread is actually one of the few things I bake only as a social thing, it's too much work for what you get otherwise. Love to get together with a group before Christmas and make them, drink Glögg or Glühwein, bake, gossip and giggle... It's what most swedes actually seem to do, and instead we put the real effort into all the other christmas baking.
What you may want to try next year btw is to use less flour, but instead make the dough the day before. The Swedish language recipes I know all call for the dough to rest for 24 hours minimum, it allows the flour to swell and soak up the remaining liquid, which also allow you to make the snaps really really thin. And it is easier to work through the dough :-) Could be that it wouldn't work well with your recipe though.
Definitely going to make part of a batch with brandy next time I make Swedish gingerbread/pepparkakor/peperkokken. Thanks for the inspiration