The other day I went to a local health foods store to purchase some spices. I can buy spices in bulk and only purchase what I need without having to spend a lot of money. I bought Cinnamon sticks, star anise, cardamom, allspice, cloves, everything I needed to make a ras el hanout spice blend. I found a recipe here http://www.theepicentre.com/Spices/raselhanout.html
Smelling all the wonderful spices made me think of Latvian pepper cookies, called Piparkukas which I looked up a recipe for. The recipes I came across and thought of being as authentic as possible all called for a large amount of ingredients. One pound of butter, 5 pounds of flour, one pound sugar, enormous amounts of ingredients. Every recipe for the cookies was the same with each having large amounts of ingredients, so I determined that making too much food is something that was passed down to me by my ancestors.
Here is a recipe for Piparkukas from ChristmasJoy.net:
Christmas Recipes from Latvia
Recipe Name: My Granny's Piparkukas
1 lb butter
16 oz dark Karo syrup; one bottle
16 oz molasses
1 lb brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp cloves
2 tsp coriander
1 tsp cardamom
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp ginger
5 lbs flour; Wondra brand
4 egg yolks
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
Place butter, Karo syrup, and 1/2 the sugars in a large pot. Heat to boiling. When it starts boiling, add the ground spices. Remove from heat.
Gradually add 1/2 the flour, stirring constantly to avoid lumping. Continue stirring until the mixture no longer sticks to the sides of the pot. Let cool until cool enough to touch.
Beat the egg yolks and the remaining sugar together slightly. Dissolve the baking powder and baking soda in about 1 Tbsp water. Add the egg yolks and sugar to the batter. Add the baking powder and baking soda to the batter. Gradually add the remaining flour, and knead the batter dough until it is smooth, shiny and hard.
Roll the dough out (in portions) to a thickness of 1/16". Cut out the cookie shapes, place on a cookie par, and bake in a 350 degree F oven for about 10 minutes. Watch carefully - they burn easily.
Baked cookies are lightly brown, crisp, crumbly, piquant, very tasty. These are the favourite cookies in our family for Christmas. This kind of cookie (piparkukas - "pepper" + "cakes") is very popular in Latvia. And every housewife has her own recipe - family's recipe.