Continuing my yearly holiday series of Norwegian cookies, I realized I have never shared my recipe for these delightful, two-bite sized cookies called peppernøtter. Perhaps it’s not a coincidence, as they are a bit anonymous compared to the other famous seven kinds we insist on including in our baking repertoire every Christmas. Which again is ironic, because they are just like potato chips; you can’t stop at just one!
Peppernøtter are in many ways similar to gingerbread cookies, or pepperkaker, as we call them in Norwegian. I read somewhere it can be described as a smaller, angrier version of pepperkaker, which made me laugh. Filled with the warming holiday spices of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and clove with a healthy dose of black pepper, they are positively addictive and easier to bake than pepperkaker. While they may not be as popular as their cousin, they are certainly not less delicious.
Peppernøtter are also more doughy as opposed to crispy, and have a savory element to them which makes you not feel too guilty if you happen to eat them for breakfast… hey, I will definitely not judge you!
The name of this cookie is quite deceiving, as the recipe doesn’t call for nuts at all (nøtter means nuts in Norwegian). The cookies were so called, because when they were created back in the 16th century they were made without baking powder and consequently they turned hard as nuts. The generous addition of spices was not done only to add flavor to the cookies, but also to symbolize wealth and power, which was common in the Middle ages. Still to this today, the aromas of cinnamon, ginger, clove and cardamom is what signify Christmas.
Old fashioned they may be, but peppernøtter remain incredibly popular among Norwegians to this day. They are also super simple to veganize, because the original doesn’t contain nuts, and substituting plant based butter and milk is as easy as a walk in the park and produces the same flavor and texture as dairy products.
(Shameless plug and gift suggestion: If you are interested in seeing how Norwegian dishes can successfully be veganized, I highly recommend getting my latest ebook which is a collection of my favorite Norwegian recipes from this blogg and beyond. Makes for a perfect gift too and will turn any skeptic into a believer if you thought meat, fish and dairy was necessary to create authentic tasting Scandinavian food)
Don’t forget to enjoy peppernøtter with a glass of gløgg, it is guaranteed to put you in the holiday spirit!
(P.S. they also make for a wonderful, edible gift! Just put them in mason jars and put a bow on it and voila, you’ve got a personalized, delicious Christmas present!)
Makes about 30 pieces
1 stick (113g) vegan butter (I used Earth Balance)
heaping 1/2 cup (150 grams) organic sugar
1/4 cup organic light corn syrup (50 ml)
1/4 cup (50ml) coconut or soy based half and half
2 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 cups (400 grams) all purpose flour (add more if dough looks wet)
Whisk together the butter, sugar and syrup in a small sauce pot and heat up until sugar is dissolved. Add in the half and half, spices, baking powder, soda and flour and combine until you have a smooth dough. Let rest in fridge for about an hour or so.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celcius), Dress two baking sheets with either a silpat or parchment paper.
Using a tbsp cookie scooper, roll out the dough pieces in the shape of a small ball and place on cookie sheets. Lightly press them down with the back of a fork.
Bake for about 15 minutes until lightly golden on top.