These spicy, crisp, cookie-cutter cookies are similar to a traditional gingersnap. However, the ginger-spice bite is stronger than many recipes call for, and they are meant to be quite crisp, which means they have to be quite thin.

You’ll notice in the picture that the cookies have a hole near the top. This is so you can thread a red ribbon through, and use the cookies to decorate your tree with! They also look pretty hung from a chandelier in the dining room, or in other clever places around your Christmas home. Obviously the cookies used in this way would no longer be edible.

While they’re tasty plain, they call out for plain white icing, done in fancy patterns. Other than plain white icing, the only other “acceptable” decoration is red candies. All the Norwegian grannies that have ever lived would turn over in their graves if you tried to dust your pepperkakker with green sugar crystals!!

Makes 4-5 dozen

1/3 c butter
1/3 c sugar
1/3 c light molasses
1 3/4 c sifted flour
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1 1/4 t ginger
1/2 t cinnamon
1/4 t cloves

Cream butter and sugar. Beat in molasses. Sift dry ingredients together in a bowl, then incorporate. Read Christmas Cookie Basics for more information about how to complete these steps.

Chill dough until firm enough to roll, but don’t keep in the fridge for more than a couple days or it will dry out.

Roll 1/3 of the dough at a time to 1/8″ thickness. The cookies pictured here are much too thick, at least half an inch. Not only do they not look right, they won’t have that delightful crispness. Part of this cookie’s crispness comes from the relatively high quantity of flour, but part of it comes from how thin they are. (As a side note, see how the icing is kind of flat? That happened because this cook put too much liquid in her icing.)

The traditional Norwegian symbol for Christmas is a heart, so that’s the shape these cookies are traditionally cut into.  But you can also use stars; or, if you must, you can use reindeers or Christmas trees or whatever other kinds of cookie cutters you have.

Bake at 325° for 10-15 minutes until crisp. These cookies won’t brown – so if they start to darken, like the ones on the right in the picture above, they’re overcooked, aka burned.

When they’re cool, decorate with a simple white icing, made from sifted powdered sugar and a little milk.

Store them in a tin by themselves – the heavy spice will permeate any other cookies you store them with.

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