Did you know that it’s World Elephant Day today? Not exactly a Hallmark holiday, but I wanted to celebrate. This is a “green” blog after all! So I baked elephant cookies–elephant shaped thin spice cookies, based on Swedish Pepparkakor!
Elephants are fascinating creatures. Did you know that…
- Elephants are our largest land mammal. Adults eat 300-400 lbs of grasses, leaves, bamboo, bark & roots per day.
- Elephants form deep family bonds and live in herds of 8-100 individuals. The herd is led by the oldest and often largest female in the herd, called a matriarch. Males leave the family unit between the ages of 12-15.
- Elephants are extremely intelligent animals and have memories that span many years. It is this memory that serves matriarchs well during dry seasons when they need to guide their herds, sometimes for tens of miles, to watering holes that they remember from the past. They also display signs of grief, joy, anger and play.
- Female elephants are pregnant for 22 months before giving birth to a baby!
- There are two species: African elephants which are divided into two subspecies (savannah and forest), and Asian elephants which are divided into four subspecies (Sri Lankan, Indian, Sumatran and Borneo).
- At the turn of the 20th century, there were a few million African elephants and about 100,000 Asian elephants. Today, there are an estimated 450,000 – 700,000 African elephants and between 35,000 – 40,000 wild Asian elephants.
- Under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), African elephants are listed as threatened, which means they are likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of their range. Asian elephants are listed as endangered, which means they in danger of extinction within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of their range.
Swedish Pepparkakor, more well known as Anna’s Spice Thins, and are traditional in Sweden, especially around the holidays. “Anna” makes them in small flower shapes, but you have to shake up tradition occasionally! Thin, crispy and flavored with cinnamon, ginger and cloves, they are tasty and relatively low in calories.
I am especially fond of ginger cookies since they work a little better into a healthy diet. Ginger is anti-inflammatory and gives a cookie enough flavor to swap in some whole wheat flour for the white. This recipe is based on one from Good Housekeeping, though I used molasses instead of dark corn syrup and swapped in some whole wheat flour.
The cookies went together easily but were a challenge to roll out, even after chilling. I ended up rolling them out to medium/thin on wax paper (with lots of flour to prevent sticking), then transferring them to the freezer for about five minutes. I then flipped them over onto a second sheet of wax paper, re-floured and rolled them out to about 1/8 inch thick and cut them. Once I had that technique down, they were easy—no problems with sticking or breakage.
And finally (I can’t resist), how do you (figuratively) eat a whole elephant? In this case a handful at a time!
- 1/2 cup butter or margarine
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup mild molasses (or half molasses and half maple syrup)
- 1/4 cup heavy or whipping cream (or non-dairy cream)
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- In large bowl, beat butter and sugar until fluffy, occasionally scraping bowl with rubber spatula. Beat in molasses, cream, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and ginger until blended. Then gradually beat in flour until well mixed.
- Divide dough into 4 pieces and flatten so they will chill faster. Wrap each piece with plastic wrap and refrigerate 1-2 hours.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. On lightly floured surface, with floured rolling pin, roll 1 piece of dough at a time 1/8 inch thick (see notes). With floured cookie cutter, cut dough into as many cookies as possible. Place cookies, 1 inch apart, on ungreased large cookie sheet. Reserve trimmings.
- Bake cookies 9 to 10 minutes, until lightly browned. Transfer cookies to wire rack to cool. Repeat with remaining dough and trimmings to make more cookies.
- I ended up rolling them out to medium-thin on wax paper (with lots of flour to prevent sticking), then transferring them to the freezer for about five minutes. I then flipped them over, re-floured and rolled them out to about 1/8 inch thick and cut them.
- Calories are based on a yield of 6 dozen small, thin cookies, with 2 per serving. The count will vary based on thickness and cookie cutter size.