Christmas notes: pepparkakor part ii

The dough has firmed up to an almost toffee consistency. I hack it from its bowl in portions with a dangerous knife. Now for batch work. These biscuits, much as I love them, are a labour of love. You’ll need to do about twelve batches: there’ll be about six from the original mixture, then a few more from the trimmings, rolled out again.

I roll the mixture very thin. This requires some real work, and you’ll feel your palms bruising against the pin, but the work feels good and right. Once it’s rolled thinly enough, you should be able to see light through it. Now for cutting. Hearts are the traditional symbol of Swedish Christmasses, and I’m very fond of them, but I also like little frilly rounds, like you buy in tins from Ikea.

 

I bake in a preheated oven at 220. Timing is fiendish: the menaces will burn on you in a flash, so keep an eye. You’ll see them puff, then fall, then begin to turn light gold, and give off a toasted spice and caramel scent. I can’t give an exact time, but somewhere around seven minutes would be a guess. If you become engaged in rolling your next batch, a drink, a conversation, you’ll suddenly smell a hit of burnt sugar, and know you’ve spoilt a trayful of biccies. This happens to me twice or thrice each time I make the things.

Take the pepparkakor from the oven, and slide onto a cool surface. Like brandy snaps, they’ll be very soft and puffy when you take them from the oven, and crisp as they cool. Once slightly cool and crisp, slide them to a cooling rack, where they can wait to be tumbled into a tin, packed into a cutesy jar, rolled in paper.

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