Recipe: <i>Joulu pipparkakor</i>

Joulu Pipparkakor.
(Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles Times)

Many years ago, a co-worker from Finland shared her family recipe for these best-ever gingery spice cookies (which she calls suomalaisat piparkakut). She made them and gave them to friends because, in the land of sunny Christmas mornings, they reminded her of home.

— Sean Early, Los Angeles

PHOTOS: Holiday Cookie Bake-off winning cookies and bakers

Joulu Pipparkakor


Total time: 1½ hours, plus overnight chilling time for the dough

Servings: Makes about 10 dozen (3-inch) cookies.

Note: Adapted from Sean Early.

1 cup (8 ounces) unsulfured molasses

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons strong brewed coffee or espresso

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 tablespoon ground ginger

1 tablespoon plus 1½ teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves

2 tablespoons finely grated orange zest

1 teaspoon freshly ground green cardamom (seeds only, no pods)

10 ounces (2½ sticks) butter, at room temperature

3 eggs, at room temperature

Scant 1½ cups (10 ounces) sugar

7 cups (29.75 ounces) flour, divided

1 tablespoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

2 egg whites, at room temperature

1 tablespoon water

Coarse sanding or decorating sugar, for dusting

1. In a medium saucepan, whisk together the molasses, coffee, cinnamon, ground and fresh ginger, cloves, orange zest and cardamom. Bring to a gentle boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, until slightly thickened with frothy bubbles. Remove the saucepan from heat and add the butter in large pieces, stirring to combine after each addition. Set aside to cool to nearly room temperature.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer using the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl using an electric mixer, beat together the whole eggs and sugar until smooth. Add the cooled syrup to the egg mixture, and stir to combine.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk together 5 cups of flour with the baking soda and salt. Add the flour mixture to the syrup mixture in 1 cup increments, stirring after each addition to combine and form the dough. Continue to add additional flour until the dough is very stiff but pliable and slightly sticky to the touch; you may not need all of the flour.

4. Remove the dough to a well-floured surface and form into a large ball. Divide the dough in half, and knead each half briefly until smooth. Flatten each half into a disk, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

5. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and set aside at room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes to warm slightly. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 400 degrees, and line cookie sheets with parchment.

6. On a lightly floured board, divide each disk in half, and roll each portion so it is about one-eighth-inch thick. Cut the dough into desired shapes (stars and snowflakes are traditional) using lightly floured cutters, and place on the sheets, spacing the cookies about 1 inch apart.

7. In a small bowl, beat the egg whites with the water, then brush each cookie with egg wash. Dust the cookies with the coarse sugar.

8. Bake the cookies so they are an even, deep golden brown, 7 to 9 minutes, depending on size.

Each of 120 cookies: 62 calories; 1 gram protein; 10 grams carbohydrates; 0 fiber; 2 grams fat; 1 gram saturated fat; 10 mg cholesterol; 4 grams sugar; 40 mg sodium.