My family has made these Scandinavian cookies for Christmas forever. They are quite an effort, but totally worth it. I like to make them in three stages - I mix the dough one day and then refrigerate it overnight, cut out and bake the cookies the next day, and then freeze them until I am ready to devote several hours to a decorating extravaganza.
2 sticks butter or margarine, softened to room temp.
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 TBSP molasses
2 TBSP milk
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp ginger
1 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp cardamom
3 cups flour
1. Cream together the butter and sugar in a large bowl. Stir in molasses, egg, and then milk.
2. Whisk together the baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and cardamom in a small bowl. Mix into the butter/sugar mixture.
3. Gradually stir in flour. It will take a while, and some energy! If you can't quite stir it all in, just save the rest to spread on the counter later when you are rolling out the cookies.
4. Chill dough in the refrigerator for at least two hours or overnight. If you chill it overnight, you may need to let it warm up just a little before rolling it out.
5. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line cookies sheets with parchment. Sprinkle counter and rolling pin with flour.
6. Roll out the dough and cut out cookies with cookie cutters. Use a spatula to transfer the cookies to the cookie sheets.
7. Bake medium sized/large cookies about 7 minutes or until firm. Very small cookies take more like 4-5 minutes. Rotate the sheets top to bottom and front to back mid-way through if you think of it.
8. Let cookies cool on the baking sheets for about a minute, then transfer to wire racks or newspaper to cool.
At this point, you can either freeze the cookies or decorate them once they are cool.
For decorating, I use a vanilla buttercream frosting like this one, usually reducing the butter down to about 1 TBSP because you don't really need so much for this. I also add a tiny bit of almond extract to taste - about 1/4 tsp, but it depends on whether you like almond.
Go to town with the frosting! You can do fancy white decorations with a pastry bag, or divide the frosting into small cups and add drops of food coloring. I happen to think pepakakhr taste great with red hots and raisins on the frosting, but I also use just about every other kind of sprinkles and nonpareils.