The Biscuiteer: Anna’s Ginger Thins
Manufactured by: Anna’s
These ginger snaps, or pepparkakor, are traditional Swedish Christmas fare. They’re thinner and crisper than regular gingerbread, but otherwise their cultural uses are very similar. They are often cut into the shapes of hearts, pigs and little men and women, and people make pepparkakor houses.
The story behind these ones is that during the 1920s, Anna Karlsson used to bake them from a recipe handed down through her family, and they became such a local legend that in 1929, Anna and her sister opened a small bakery in Stockholm to sell them all year round. The company was bought by the Mattsson family in 1963 and in 2008 was acquired by Belgian company Lotus Backeries. An affiliate company makes the biscuits in Canada for the North American market.
The company also makes a variety of different flavours apart from the traditional ginger: choc-chip-mint thins, almond and cinnamon thins, orange thins, blueberry thins, lemon thins and coffee thins. There are also ginger thins made with wholemeal flour.
In Australia they can be found at some supermarkets, specialist grocers and shops (I’ve heard that they are available at Crabtree & Evelyn, although I’m not certain the ginger biscuits they carry are this brand) and, of course, the Swedish food store at Ikea. In good news for vegans, they are made with canola and palm oils rather than dairy, and don’t contain eggs.
The biscuits are indeed very thin – impressively so. This, sadly, makes them quite fragile and despite the sturdy packaging there are always one or two broken ones in the pack. (They’d all be broken if they came in the standard plastic tube wrapper.)
Their scalloped edges add to their delicate feel. They look like little daisies, and I was inclined to nibble at them rather than take great chomping mouthfuls. The texture is crisp, smooth and refined without being overly soft, and the taste was buttery and delicious. The ginger taste is quite delicate rather than punishingly spicy, as some gingernut cookies can be. Eating these biscuits felt very decadent and luxurious in the way that very insubstantial foodstuffs often do.
Dunking the biscuit does soften it considerably, and we had to remain vigilant to prevent a sludge of dissolved biscuit from accumulating at the bottom of a mug of tea. Wikipedia informs me that gingerbread was traditionally dunked into port. Whether or not this is true, it is a habit I would be happy to take up, although you’d need a rather wide-necked port glass, or alternatively you would need to break the biscuit in pieces to fit it into a standard port glass.
Let’s not beat around the bush – these biscuits were delectable. They are the tastiest biscuit ever reviewed in this column to date. And they were so light that it was easy to reach for another – almost before we knew it, my companion and I had devoured the entire packet depicted above.
I loved them so much that on my next foray to Ikea, I bought a giant pack of them in a handsome round commemorative tin. I’ve never owned my own biscuit tin before, but now I feel I am a true Biscuiteer. Also, clearly I am ready to be a grandmother… or at least a maiden aunt. (The port should also help with that.)
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