You are the company you keep which is why when I met Swedish born, New England raised, Ivy grad (with-a-Masters-in-Nutrition-and-Public-Health) Maria Adams, I knew I wanted to get to know her. I was also 90% sure she was a Boden model and just ‘going Swede’ and not talking about it. So while teaching her how to manhandle the stubborn preschool door, I simultaneously noticed her slate blue, Hunter boots and hoped one day we would be swapping Christmas cards.
Our boys became friends quickly that year making staying in touch permanent. That was 4 years ago and a recent check in with Maria yielded me being treated like the Swedish crowned princess herself in Maria’s new kitchen. Maria fed me Pepparkarkor and Bondkakor cookies and Swedish meatballs c/o Var Kok Bok (the Swedish Joy of Cooking). She also taught me the history behind Swedish St. Lucia’s Day, a Scandinavian holiday in December that celebrates love, light and some serious girl power (my kind of holiday.)*
Delicious! What’s going on with these crisp-while-buttery cookies? It must be that bit of HÄLSA (well being) that Maria adds to her recipes. And those meatballs were fit for a Scandanavian princess with their key “shredded and then sautéed onions”.
If you feel the need for a consult from a top notch nutritionist with said cred:
Then please find Maria’s contact info below. What’s that you say? How timely with these calorie laden holidays upon us? I say, #ThatsRight #JustDoIt.
*St Lucia was a young Christian girl who was martyred, killed for her faith, in 304AD. The most common story told about St Lucia is that she would secretly bring food to the persecuted Christians in Rome, who lived in hiding in the catacombs under the city. She would wear candles on her head so she had both her hands free to carry things. Lucy means ‘light’ so this is a very appropriate name. St. Lucia’s Day is now celebrated by a girl dressing in a white dress with a red sash round her waist and a crown of candles on her head.
Swedish Gingersnaps (Pepparkakor)
Makes 300 cookies (You could halve it or share it with a friend if that sounds ambitious!)
300 grams butter (2 sticks + 5 tablespoons) at room temperature
2 cups + 2 tablespoons sugar
7 tablespoons (just under ½ cup) light syrup (I like Lyle’s Golden Syrup)
1 tablespoon ground ginger
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground cloves
2 teaspoons ground cardamom
1 tablespoon baking soda
¾ cup + 1 tablespoon water
6 cups + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour or use white whole wheat flour for some or all
Also needed: cookie cutters, parchment paper, a clean workspace, and holiday spirit
- Add all the ingredients, except about 1 cup of the flour, to the bowl of a large mixer. Mix on low to medium speed until well combined.
- Empty the dough onto a work surface and add the last bit of flour. Form into a ball and wrap with plastic wrap. Place in the refrigerator for at least one night.
- Remove dough from the refrigerator and let warm up a bit.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Working on a lightly floured work surface, take a small chunk of the dough. Knead it a bit and form it into a ball. Roll it out until it’s very thin (thinner than your average sugar cookie). Every now and then lift the rolled dough up from the table and make sure it’s not sticking to the work surface. Add a little more flour to the work surface or rolling pin as necessary.
- When the dough has been rolled thin, use the cookie cutters to press out shapes. When you have filled the dough with shapes, peel away the surrounding dough. Transfer the cut shapes onto a cookie sheet.
- Bake for 3 1/2 to 5 minutes. Keep a close eye on the cookies as they can burn quickly.
- Let the cookies cool a bit on the baking sheet and then transfer them to a wire rack to cool more. They should be thin and crispy when cooled.
- Repeat with the remaining dough. Wrap any unused dough in plastic and transfer it back to the refrigerator for another day.
Cheers and Enjoy,