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Historic Recipes - 04

Gingerbread cookies are a common winter-time treat, and variations of it can be found all over the world. In Sweden it goes by the name Pepparkakor or “pepper cake.” While there is no pepper in modern recipes the thin spiced cookies produced provide plenty of flavor. Often ground cardamom seeds would be present in more traditional recipes, or if the family was from Denmark they may have incorporated almonds into the dough. The recipe presented here is from the Belleville Telescope, on Christmas day, 1980. While it does not include cardamom, it does include other key ingredients like molasses and ginger. This variation is very consistent with other printed recipes for this kind of cookie from the 1970s and 1980s. The ingredients are common at most grocery stores, making it an accessible way to enjoy this Swedish variation on the gingerbread cookie.

Swedish Spice CookiesSwedish Spice Cookies
Yield: approx. 6 dozen

1 cup (2 sticks) butter
½ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup firmly packed brown sugar
½ cup light molasses
1 egg
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon grated orange peel
½ teaspoon baking soda
Granulated sugar

Directions:  Cream butter; gradually add sugars; beat until light and fluffy.  Beat in molasses and egg. Combine flour, salt, spices, orange peel and baking soda. Gradually add to creamed mixture. Gather dough into a ball; wrap in plastic wrap. Chill 2 to 3 hours.  Preheat oven to 375° F. Use one-fourth of dough at a time; keep remainder refrigerated until needed. Sprinkle pastry cloth and rolling pin with granulated sugar. Sprinkle top of dough with sugar also. Roll to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut with floured cookie cutters. Place 1 inch apart on unbuttered cookie sheets. Bake 10 – 12 minutes. Remove from cookie sheets and cool completely on wire racks. Store in airtight containers at room temperature. NOTE: Use granulated sugar for ease of rolling out dough instead of flour. The sugar makes the cookies crisp and gives them a sparkle after baking.

Norwegian immigrants settled the town of Norway in Republic County around 1869. Berlinerkranser cookies, popular in Norway at Christmas, are butter cookies shaped in a wreath. There are many different variations of Berlinerkranser.

Norwegian “Berlin” Wreaths
Yield: 4-5 dozen
Belleville Telescope, December 24, 1987

2 sticks butter
2/3 cup granulated sugar
½ tablespoon grated orange peel
2 eggs
2 tablespoons brandy
3 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 egg whites for glaze
2/3 cup cube sugar for sprinkling on top
Baking sheet

1.   In a mixing bowl, cream butter, sugar, and orgae peel until light and fluffy. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating after each addition.

2.   Add brandy and gradually the flour. Refrigerate dough overnight.

3.   Roll small pieces of dough into strips 6 inches long and 1/4 inch thick.

4.   Place on ungreased baking sheet. Beat egg whites lightly. Brush on top of cookies. In a small bowl, coarsely crush cube sugar. Sprinkle on top of each cookie.

5.   Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven 10 to 12 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.

Note: Store in an airtight container.

Danish immigrants settled the town of Jamestown in Cloud County around 1869. Vaniljekranse, Danish butter cookies popular at Christmas, are often pressed and shaped into a circle. There are many different variations of butter cookies.

Butter cookiesButter Cookies
Belleville Telescope, December 21, 1989
Yield: About 4 dozen

8 ounces unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
4 large egg yolks, beaten
1 1/2 teaspons vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
Icing (optional)
2 cups confectioner’s sugar
1 egg white
3 to 4 teaspoon milk
Food coloring

In a large bowl, cream the butter with the sugar until light and fluffy. Add the beaten yolks and vanilla and beat thoroughly.

Sift the flour and salt together. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture, blending well after each addition.

Form the dough into 2 equal balls, wrap in wax paper, and refrigerate overnight or place in the freezer for 30 minutes.

Line baking sheets with aluminum foil if not using a nonstick pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Working quickly with one package of dough at a time, place the dough between 2 pieces of wax paper and roll it to a thickness of slightly less than a quarter inch. Using cookie cutters, stencil, or an inverted water glass, cut out shapes from the dough. Arrange them on the baking sheets and refrigerate for 30 minutes. If you wish, make a hole in the top of each cookie with a drinking straw to attach string, wire, or ribbon after baking. Repeat the rolling and cutting with the second package of dough. Meanwhile, gather up any scraps of dough into a ball, wrap and refrigerate. (Always work with chilled dough.) Roll, cut out, and arrange on baking sheet.

Bake cookies, one baking sheet at a time, in the preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes, or until light brown around edges. Keep the others chilled until ready to bake. Gently remove baked cookies from baking sheet to cool.

French and French Canadian immigrants settled the towns of Clyde, Concordia, and St. Joseph in Cloud County around 1871. The macaron cookie, popular at Christmas, is a sweet meringue-based treat that began in Italy. The term is similar to macaroni, meaning fine dough. The French added flavoring, filling, and layers to make a sweet sandwich that has now become a bestseller. This early recipe assumes that the baker has prior knowledge.

Concordia Empire, May 30, 1889

4 ounces almonds (1/2 cup)
1 ounce bitter almonds (2 tablespoons)
4 egg whites
1 pound sugar (2 cups)

Beat finely in a mortar four ounces of blanched sweet almonds and one ounce of bitter almonds; add the whites of four eggs, beaten to a stiff froth, then gradually one pound of pulverized sugar, stirring all the while; drop in small cakes on a sheet of white paper. Remove by wetting the paper slightly.

Blanched almonds

Remove the shells, then pour over them boiling water and let it remain for 10 or 15 minutes, when the brown skin will rub off easily.

Today’s macarons use food coloring or gel to make pastels and vivid colors.


2/3 cup finely ground almonds
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3 large egg whites, room temperature
5 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 280 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Blend thoroughly the almonds and powdered sugar.

Beat egg whites in mixer on medium high. When frothy, gradually add sugar, a tablespoon at a time. Continue beating until glossy and forming stiff peaks. Gently fold in vanilla extract.

Gently fold in half of the almond and powdered sugar mixture, taking care not to lose too much air in the process. Add the second half and repeat the process until combined.

Using a flat spatula, flatten the center of the batter, scrape from the sides, and flatten again. Repeat 10 to 15 times until the batter drips back into the bowl.

Spoon batter onto baking sheets, place in oven, and bake. Open door to release moisture after first 2 minutes. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes. Rotate sheets halfway through baking. Shells should be hard, not mushy or browned. Cool on a wire rack.

When fully cooled, add filling and assemble. They can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to one week. 

Entry: Historic Recipes - 04

Author: Kansas Historical Society

Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

Date Created: February 2017

Date Modified: July 2017

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.