The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


suehedtke's picture


I love gingersnaps, or as the Swedish say Pepparkakor.  My grandmother made these awesome ones that were very hard (crisp) like the ones you buy boxed in the store, but of course were more awesome because of the fresh homemade taste and spices.  I have tried dozens of recipes but none of them are truly crisp or hard.  Every recipe I have tried has some oil or butter.  I was told by one of my older friends that the recipe her mother used didn't have any oil or butter in it and it was dark, rich and very hard.  That's what I am looking for.  Can anyone help me please.  I am tired of baking cookies and giving them away to the neighbors because they are not the Pepparkakor that I remember eating as a kid.


freerk's picture

Have you come across any recipes using hartshornsalt? That might be the answer to achieve the crispyness you are looking for. Since the dough for pepparkakor is quite tough it needs a very strong rising agent. It can be bought at the KAF webstore.

Here a link to a video I made on "pepernoten" that is made with the same type of dough. In the time lapse of the rising dough you can see the quite dramatic job that harsthorn does.

If you haven't already, I would suggest you to give it a try!

Freerk from  BreadLab

suehedtke's picture

Thanks for the suggestion.  Have never even heard of Harsthorn.  None of the recipes I have seen or tried have had it listed.  I will give it a try.  Thanks again.



gmagmabaking2's picture

recipe  Sounds like what you might be looking for.

Good luck and Happy Baking!


suehedtke's picture

Thanks for the effort....but I have tried one very close to this one that was still not firmly crisp.  i really think it is the oil or butter.  I have had several people tell me that there is a recipe that has no oil or butter and that is the really hard cookie.  I do have a new recipe that someone shared that only has 3 T. of butter in it.  I am going to try it and see if maybe that will work. 


freerk's picture

Hartshorn is used in very tough doughs like gingersnap dough. You can also use a massive amount of baking powder, but it will affect the taste of your cookie. Hartshorn is the strongest of all leavens and has the added benefit that it reacts to heat and not to moisture, like baking powder does. This results in an extra crisp cookie! Perfect stuff for tough doughs



whoops's picture


I have made a molassess cookie for years, and mother made it as far back as I can remember as a child. These were quite crips, in fact crunchy, when first baked. I learned by trial once I was old enough to make cookies myself that the key to keeping these cookies crisp was not to store in an air tight container, as that softenes them up. I do cover, but loosely. I also make sure not to store with other cookies, as the strong flavor leeches out onto the neighboring cookies. Doesn't appear that these are quite as spicey as the one you found later on, but here is my recipe, just in case you want to try it. It does have shortening, but you must melt it first. I have never tried it with butter or oil, mostly because when I asked my mother why we melted crisco instead of just using oil, she said "because they do not turn out right then".

3/4 c melted shortening

1 c sugar

1/4 c molasses

1 egg

2 c flour

2 tsp baking soa

1/2 tsp gr. cloves

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

powdered sugar for dusting after cooled

honestly, I do not measure the spices , or, rather, I measure, then pour extra in the dough. I have not tried with using fresh spices.

i beat the egg and sugar together, add molasses, shortening, and spices, then add the bakign soda and flour. Not sure if it matters if you mix it any other way or not. You might need to chang eto a dough hook about half way through the flour, though, as it forms a very stiff dough. Once it is well mixed, I refrigerate it for an hour or so, sometimes a day or so , if I forget they are in there!  My motehr never chilled, I do, because it makes it easier to roll into the balls. So, roll into small balls (using about one teaspoon- not the measuring kind the kind for eating) place on a cookie sheet, and bake in a preheated oven for 8-10 minutes at 375 degrees f. cool on a wire rack. I have found they are easier to remove if you let them cool for a few minutes on the pan. Once fully cooled, dust with powdered sugar, if desired.

Some notes: They darken after cooling, and I have had people mistakenly think they were grabbing a chocolate cookie. They are pretty forgiving, so even if they are a bit more baked then you had planned, often you will be the only one that notices. I usually roll all the dough into balls before starting to bake, then I can get on with other things in between taking them out of the oven. I can fit 12-15 cookies on each sheet ( I have 2 different sized cookie sheets), and I have found that I just can not roll them out quick enough, between taking them out, removing them, and refilling sheets. They flatten out A LOT. in fact, they are very flat, especially after they cool, they rise a bit in the oven, then fall flat as they cool, sometimes even being a bit umm..concave (or is it convex, I forget which is which, now) .

We only made these at Christmas, and usually not until the 3rd Sunday in Advent,, but as I became older, we started making them as soon as Christmas time was near, as they are the favorite of many of the adults who prefer cookies that are a bit less sweet.

Anyway, good luck, I hoep you continue to enjoy the cookies yo umade already.




EvaB's picture

and I learned to make them from the recipe in Joy of cooking, they were wonderful, and very crisp like the ones from the store, if you are looking for no butter then they are not gingersnaps they are pepperneuse or a similar cookie, no shortening, equals less softness, and longer shelf life!

Lots of luck and hope you find something that is what you want!

suehedtke's picture

I am familiar with the Pepperneuse as it is a German cookie and I have my husband's grandmother's original recipe which is actually written in German.  It is a true family favorite and it has no butter or oil,  however, it is still not hard like the gingersnaps.  The poster just prior to you turned me on to a recipe on a site which, by reducing the butter and using various tricks to reduce the moisture in the cookie is supposed to be hard and crisp.  Haven't tried it yet.  I am definitely going to try the Joy of Cooking recipe also since you say it is hard.  I have spent some time on an awesome cooking site which has taught me a great deal about the use of baking soda versus powder in controlling the crispness or moisture in cookies.  I have learned a lot.  Amazing...I have loved to cook for 66 years and really thought I knew quite a bit but am finding that I don't know nearly as much as I thought I did.  Guess one is never to old to pick up some new tricks.  Thanks so much for the information and when I get it right...I will definitely come back on and share the secret.  Again, thanks for your time and information.   Sue

Wild-Yeast's picture


Ok, how'd it go?..., Don't leave us hanging...,

I'm an extreme fan of crisp ginger snaps - and I mean crisp. If the Cook's recipe works then I'm clear'in the decks for a "Snap Run"..,


suehedtke's picture

I haven't got to make them, but plan to tomorrow.  I am running in about 20 different directions the last couple of days.  I can't wait.  The site with the recipe is awesome.  It is a paid site, but you can get a 14 day trial for free, which I really took advantage of.  Has some great tips and explanations of why certain ingredients and recipes come out the way they do and how to adjust ingredients to get varied results.  Kind of the "science of cooking."  Promise to get back with you on the results.  Sue

suehedtke's picture

Okay, this is THE RECIPE!!  OMG, these are awesome....really really snappy and very spicy.  Exactly what I was looking for.  This is the recipe from the recommended website and they explained what they did to get the "extra hard" texture.  Browning the butter and lots of soda is the secret.  I have made three batches of these already.  They are a definite hit.  I actually added to the black pepper, cayenne and fresh grated ginger to make them a little more spicy....I have it JUST RIGHT now.  A hard spicy cookie with a glass of cold cold milk....takes me back to my grandmother's house.  Thanks everyone for all the help.

GINGERSNAPS (the recipe)


Why this recipe works:  We wanted to put the “snap” back in Gingersnap cookies. This meant creating a cookie that not only breaks cleanly in half and crunches satisfyingly with every bite but also has an assertive ginger flavor and heat. The key to texture was reducing the moisture in the final baked cookie. We achieved this by reducing the amount of sugar (which holds on to moisture), increasing the baking soda (which created cracks in the dough where more moisture could escape), and lowering the oven temperature (which increased the baking time.) For flavor we doubled the normal amount of dried ginger but also added fresh ginger, black pepper, and cayenne to ensure our cookie had real “snap.” (less)


Makes 80 1 1/2 inch cookies

For the best results, use fresh spices. For efficiency, form the second batch of cookies while the first batch bakes. And no, the 2 teaspoons of baking soda is not a mistake; it’s essential to getting the right texture.



  • 2 1/2 cups (12 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • pinch cayenne
  • 1 1/4 cups packed (8 3/4 ounces) dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated fresh ginger
  • 1 large egg plus 1 large yolk
  • 1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar






Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt together in bowl. Heat butter in 10-inch skillet over medium heat until melted. Lower

heat to medium-low and continue to cook, swirling pan frequently, until foaming subsides and butter is just beginning to brown, 2 to 4 minutes. Transfer butter to large bowl and whisk in ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves, pepper, and cayenne. Cool slightly, about 2 minutes. Add brown sugar, molasses, and fresh ginger to butter mixture and whisk to combine. Add egg and yolk and whisk to combine. Add flour mixture and stir until just combined. Cover dough tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.


Adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 300 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Place granulated sugar in shallow baking dish or pie plate. Divide dough into heaping teaspoon portions; roll dough into 1-inch balls. Working in batches of 10, roll balls in sugar to coat. Evenly space dough balls on prepared baking sheets, 20 dough balls per sheet.


Place 1 sheet on upper rack and bake for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, transfer partially baked top sheet to lower rack, rotating 180 degrees, and place second sheet of dough balls on upper rack. Continue to bake until cookies on lower tray just begin to darken around edges, 10 to 12 minutes longer. Remove lower sheet of cookies and shift upper sheet to lower rack and continue to bake until cookies begin to darken around edges, 15 to 17 minutes. Slide baked cookies, still on parchment, to wire rack and cool completely before serving. Cool baking sheets slightly and repeat step 3 with remaining dough balls.


TO MAKE AHEAD: Dough can be refrigerated for up to 2 days or frozen for up to 1 month. Let dough stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before shaping. Let frozen dough thaw overnight before proceeding with recipe. Cooled cookies can be stored at room temperature for up to 2 weeks in airtight container.


Wild-Yeast's picture

Thanks for posting the recipe Sue.

Bien Cordialement,


suehedtke's picture

In all the searching for the gingersnap recipe, something I started doing is weighing flour when I am baking.  I initially did it because I felt that perhaps my results were not what I expected because my measurements were off.  Where you can measure lots of things accurately, sugar or liquids, flour has always been a little up for grabs....sifted or not, leveled or not, etc.  I have found that when I weigh and use those measurements my results are much more consistent....and actually it is easier, especially with a digital scale.  Does anyone else do this?


LisaAlissa's picture

If you need another gingersnap recipe to try, I suggest the Whiskey Gingersnap recipe from The Swedish Table by Helene Henderson.

She says that while you can simply combine all of the ingredients in a bowl, she suggests (instead) you heat the sugar, water & spices until the sugar disssolves (about 5 minutes), stir in the whiskey and then let it cool for 5 minutes & transfer to an electric mixer.  Work the butter in, then add the flour and baking soda.  Wrap the dough and refrigerate for at least 2 hours (but she suggests overnight).  Then roll out dough very thinly and cut out shapes.  You can roll them thinner if you don't need to transfer the cookies, so roll on a silpat and remove the dough outside the shapes.



suehedtke's picture

Thanks so much for the Whiskey Gingersnap recipe.  Am definitely going to try it.  I got my extra crispy recipe...but the whiskey one sounds so good, I have to try it also.  Thanks again for your trouble.

Song Of The Baker's picture
Song Of The Baker

This is my go to recipe for thin crispy ginger snap cookies: