Linda Gronvall was born in Minnesota and she still lives there. Her two great passions are the Swedish ginger cookie called “pepparkakor,” and, her grandchildren — for whom she bakes the delicious cookies.
“Remember the part in Pippi Longstocking when even she, that sloppy, slapdash girl, cleaned the kitchen floor so that she could roll out her pepparkakor? Well my children and now my grandchildren all agreed that the cookie must be very, very good if it was good enough to make Pippi clean,” she said. In Minneapolis’s Swedish community, Gronvall is “The Best” at the milder ginger cookie in which dark corn syrup replaces the traditional molasses or sorghum.
“My pepparkakor aren’t as spicy as some recipes and that’s why my grandchildren really love them,” said Gronvall.
Her two school-age grandchildren help her make the cookies — and help even more when its time to eat them. She believes that the thinner the pepparkakor the better, and favors a flower-shaped cookie cutter.
“Like Pippi, I make the five batches, the whole 500 every year,” she says, “none ever goes to waste.”
1/2 cup milk
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, softened
2 cups brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup dark corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
5 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1. In a small bowl, combine the milk and vinegar and allow to sit at room temperature until the milk is curdled, about 30 minutes.
2. In large bowl, beat together the butter, brown sugar, eggs, and corn syrup until well mixed.
3. Stir the baking soda into the soured milk, then stir it into the butter mixture.
4. In another bowl, sift together the flour, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and baking powder. Add the flour to the milk and butter and mix well. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead briefly. Shape the dough into a ball, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.
5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and grease two baking sheets. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to a thin sheet about 1/16-inch thick. Work quickly in order to keep the dough cold. Cut out shapes with cookie cutters, sprinkle the tops lightly with the granulated sugar, and use a spatula to transfer the cookies to the baking sheets, leaving about 1 inch between cookies.
6. Bake until the cookies are dried and firm, 7 to 9 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool.
Makes about 250 to 300 cookies.