Chef Marcus Samuelsson, the internationally renowned chef who recently set up shop in Atlanta with Marcus Bar & Grille, is a beloved fixture in the global culinary scene with a beautifully storied background. His holiday recipes are particularly special as they meld influences from his vast experience as a multicultural, 8-time JBFA-award winning chef.

This recipe for Helga’s Cookies, named for Marcus’ grandmother, is a riff on the Swedish holiday staple, pepparkakor, with a fresh take inspired by spices kept on hand in Helga’s “magical” pantry. Think of it as a perfectly spiced, elevated ginger snap.


  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 3 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
  • 10 tablespoons or 1 1/4 sticks unsalted butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup molasses


  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a small skillet, over medium heat, toast the ginger, cloves, cinnamon, and cardamom, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, for 2 to 3 minutes or just until fragrant. Remove the skillet from the heat.
  3. Sift the flour, toasted spices, baking soda, salt, and white pepper into a medium bowl or onto a sheet of wax paper.
  4. In a large bowl, beat the butter and both sugars with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl. Beat in the molasses. Gradually beat in the flour-spice mixture.
  5. Drop rounded tablespoons of the dough onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing the cookies 2 inches apart. Bake until the tops feel firm when lightly touched, about 10 to 12 minutes. Cool on the baking sheets for about 2 minutes, then transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.