Several Dashes of Spice & A Little Folklore — Pepparkakor

This tree is the signature shape for the
cookies made at Big Cedar Lodge.
     Just home from a family vacation and already missing all of the special amenities! Each evening at Big Cedar Lodge the “cookie lady” delivers fresh baked gingersnaps to each cabin or room at the rural Missouri resort. They also provide a recipe card that includes stories about the folklore associated with the cookies . . .

The Wish Cookie: An Old Swedish Custom
Place a Swedish Pepparkakor in the palm of your hand. Then, make a wish. Using the index finger of your free hand, tap the cookie in the middle. Swedish tradition states that if the Pepparkakor breaks into three pieces, your wish will come true. If the Pepparkakor does not break into three pieces, you’ll just have to savor the cookie in smaller portions.

Eating Pepparkakor can make you a nicer person.
As early as the 19th century, it was already common knowledge in Sweden that eating Pepparkakor makes you a nicer person. Exactly why this is so is not known. Gastronomes (lovers of fine food) surmise that it has to do with the natural spices and fiber in the cookie, which aid in the digestive process by reducing acid in the stomach. Others, less scientific but perhaps equally as credible, suggest that keeping a person’s mouth occupied by savoring the taste of Pepparkakor leaves little room for idle conversation and adds to the peace and quiet Swedes are known to cherish. This certainly would seem to make some people nicer to be around.
It’s anybody’s guess. However Big Cedar speculates, “Regardless of the reason, you’ll feel better. And people who feel better are nicer people.”

Pepparkakor (Gingersnaps)  7 dozen
2/3 cup (packed) light brown sugar
2/3 cup light molasses
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
½ teaspoon ground cloves
12 tablespoons butter, cut up (1½ sticks)
2 eggs
5½ cups all-purpose flour (approximately)
½ teaspoon baking soda

1.     Combine brown sugar, molasses, and spices in 1½ quart saucepan. Heat to boiling over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Boil 1 minute, then remove from heat.
2.     Place butter in large mixing bowl; add hot sugar mixture and stir until butter melts. Blend in eggs.
3.     Stir 2 cups flour and the baking soda together. Gradually mix into the butter mixture. Mix in enough additional flour to make dough stiff. Shape dough into ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate several hours or overnight.
4.     Cut dough into quarters. Shape one quarter at a time into balls (refrigerate other dough). Roll out and cut out desired shapes or, use a rounded teaspoonful of dough for each ball. Place on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake in preheated 350° oven until light brown, 10 to 12 minutes. Cool on wire racks. Store in airtight container.

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