Saturday, December 22, 2007

Estonian Christmas Recipes: piparkoogid aka Gingerbread Cookies

Häid jõule from me and K!!!

Piparkoogid actually translate as pepper cakes, but as spicy Christmas cookies tend to go under the name 'Gingerbread' across the world, I'm sticking to this English name instead. They're a must-have in Estonia. Various newspaper articles and TV programmes compile their "best gingerbread dough in 2007" lists. Mums and dads across the country are rolling and cutting and baking gingerbread cookies with their delighted offsprings. Coffee shops replace the traditional chocolate-with-your-cuppa with piparkook-with-your-cuppa. And those of us with extra time in our hands even make the gingerbread cookie dough.

Previously on Nami-nami, I've shown you pictures of stained-glass gingerbread and shared a recipe for gingerbread cookies with almonds. This year I used a different recipe, and liked the result a lot, so you'll get another gingebread recipe from me. Whereas the previous one used honey and almonds, this time I used Dansukker's light sugar syrup. You can either make your own syrup from scratch (don't burn it!), or use a light corn syrup, I guess. And if you don't have all the individual spices on hand, just use your pumpkin pie spice mixture (in the US) or mixed spice (in the UK) to get a rather similar result.

The gorgeous Moomin cookie cutters below are a gift from the very sweet Dagmar of A Cat in the Kitchen. Tack, Dagmar!!

Piparkoogid - Estonian Gingerbread Cookies
Yield: 1.3 kg of gingerbread dough

250 g light (corn) syrup
200 g sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
1-2 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp ground ginger
0.5 tsp ground allspice
0.5 tsp ground nutmeg
250 g butter
2 large eggs
600 g plain flour
2 tsp baking soda

Mix the syrup, sugar and ground spices in a saucepan and bring to the simmer.
Add the cubed butter and stir, until the butter melts. Remove the pan from the heatand cool.
Add eggs, one at a time, stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon (a simply use your KitchenAid mixer).
Mix flour and baking soda, then add gradually to the syrup and sugar mixture.
Knead until all ingredients are thoroughly combined. Wrap in a clingfilm and place into the fridge for at least overnight, preferably for a few days.

To make the cookies, divide the dough into manageable chunks and roll into 3 mm thickness on a slightly floured working board. Transfer to a cookie sheet.
Bake in the middle of 200 C oven for 6-9 minutes, until cooked through.

Cool, then decorate with a sugar glaze.

To make the sugar glaze:
Mix 1 egg white with enough icing sugar to get a thick and glossy glaze. Put into a piping bag with a very small hole, and decorate.


K and S said...

very cute! Merry Christmas and may 2008 be a delicious year for you!

David T. Macknet said...

You know, you might be surprised at how adding black pepper to them would make them even better ... in keeping with what the name sounds like to the Estonian-challenged me: pepper cake.

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

Lovely! I think I'll make these with my granddaughter next week. Happy holidays, Pille.

Katie Zeller said...

They are so cute! I like the sound of the recipe, also - nice and spicy!

Valentina said...

Dear Pille, I have been terribly busy and haven't visited in a while. I do however want to wish you a wonderful time over the Xmas holiday. And a very happy 2008!

Mariajaan said...

Hello Pille! We used your past recipe but of course our cookies have the bizarre look produced by the inexpert 9 year old baker and Co. The taste, though, is very nice. We could not get a good consistency for the glaze neither but we still have few days of this school break to give it one more try. I will go for this version next time. Have a formidable Christmas eve! MC.

Dagmar said...

I'm glad that you liked them, Pille! The gingerbread cookies sounds and looks delicious!

Merry Christmas!

Shaun said...

Pille & K, ~ Season's Greetings! I've never had "gingerbread" cookies with cardamom in them, so I am keen to give this recipe a go tonight. All the best for 2008.

Dana said...

Adorable! I love gingerbread men -- they're some of my favorite cookies this time of year.

Rosa said...

These look adorable! I love the way you've decorated them - I can tell you have some experience with sugar frosting!

Nora B. said...

Merry Christmas, Pille. I hope that you and your family will have a wonderful day and also best wishes for 2008.


Susan from Food Blogga said...

I think your recipe should be at the top of the "best of 2007" list. I adore the medley of spices in these, Pille. Thanks for submitting them! Cheers, Susan

Dori said...

Hey, great blog here! I'm so glad I found you :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing that recipe. I'm going to have to figure out the U.S. conversions and whip up a batch!

lobstersquad said...

impossible. no mixed spice, no syrup, and no Moomin cutter. I´ll have to try going to Estonia in winter next time. Very happy holidays!

Anonymous said...

Aw! These gingerbread cookies look and sound wonderful...but you know which ones I find the cutest! The Moomin ones of course...adorable!!! :)

Happy holidays to you...I hope you are enjoying this season immensely!

Zarah Maria said...

Happy Holidays Pille! So cute, your gingerbread cookies!

ScienceMel said...

Fabulous cookies, Pille. Thanks for updating this classic. How many dozen did you make?

eatme_delicious said...

The moomin cookies are so cute! I've been looking for a gingerbread cookie that's not too molasses-y so thanks for posting this. :)

Pille said...

DaviMack – well, I actually used a ready-made spice mixture for making these gingerbread cookies, and my preferred brand (Santa Maria) contains black pepper, too. So I do believe you:) And your Estonian is improving. Piparkook (sing)/Piparkoogid (pl) does translate as pepper cake indeed..

Lydia – did you try them with your granddaughter?

Valentina – so glad to see you here! Best new year’s wishes to you, too!

MariaJaan- I think I might just prefer this recipe over the previous one – it’s more like the ‘real’ thing. PS Saw the gingerbread cookies on your blog – they looked pretty authentic to me!

Dagmar – thank you again for such wonderful cookie cutters!

Shaun – I believe cardamom is a pretty common gingerbread/Christmas/baking spice here – one of the few ones that even our grandparents and great-grandparents would have used..

Rosa – thank you! Re: sugar frosting – it happens exactly once a year – during Christmas. So I have plenty of scope for improvement :)

Susan – thank you!! Again, thank you for collecting all those excellent Christmas cookie recipes. Over 200 – who would have thought of that!?!

Nate Andrews – I think simple digital kitchen scales would be of great help here :)

Lobstersquad – I think these cookies would work in other shapes, too, trust me :) And whenever you need the spice mixture, give me a shout!!

Joey – I knew you’d say that :)

ScienceMel – loads, trust me. (I’ve still got a small batch of dough left in the fridge – it keeps for weeks – and all the cookies were different size, so I lost count):

EatmeDelicious – thank you! And yes, this is not very molasses-y cookie recipe..

K&S, KatieZ, Dana, Nora B, Meeso, Zarah Maria – thank you!

Plume said...

Aaaaaah, Moomin cookies!
I so wish I had a Moomin cookie cutter...

Anonymous said...

I know it's way past Christmas, but I just stumbled upon your interesting blog and wanted to add my 2 cents' worth: My vanaema (grandma) used to make piparkoogid pretty much like yours, but with honey instead of corn syrup, which is a product not really well-known in Estonia -- at least it wasn't back in the day. I don't know if it is used widely now as I don't live there. My grandmother used honey a lot in place of sugar as they kept bees on their farm.

Anonymous said...

I made these and they were wonderful! Thank you from Canada.