Sunday, December 18, 2011

Kruidnoten

Several seasonal events are announced by the arrival of traditional foods on the supermarket shelves. Chocolate eggs mark the beginning of the Easter season, and Vlaggetjesdag is initiated by the catching of the first herring. But nothing prepares us for this month of December, with its Sinterklaas, Christmas and New Year celebrations, as the smell of speculaas from the bakeries and the sight of pepernoten at the store.  Peppernuts show up as early as mid-September, three full months before the good-hearted Saint Nicholas has even set foot on shore. And with it, also appears another event: the yearly, and sometimes heated, discussion on the difference between peppernuts and spice nuts.

Pepernoten (pepper nuts) and Kruidnoten (spice nuts) are very different from each other: pepernoten are the chewy, taai-taai-esque square pieces of brick that break your teeth, kruidnoten are the round, crunchy peppery speculaas-type cookies that Zwarte Piet throws around. Throwing pepernoten is not encouraged!

Until recently, the difference between kruidnoten and pepernoten was clear to everyone. But, as the edibility of the pepernoten became more and more challenging, and the crunchy tenderness of the kruidnoten gained terrain, pepernoten became the new name for kruidnoten. Still with me? Even packaging, marketing and nowadays the common user calls it pepernoten, except for the purists. And they are very vocal about it!

When I first wrote an article on this treat for Dutch the magazine, the editor emailed me back and asked whether the recipe I was submitting was for kruidnoten or pepernoten. Good question, and I am glad he asked. I called it pepernoten, but the recipe was clearly for kruidnoten.

Anyway....if you choose to share these and call them pepernoten, you'll know soon enough whom of your friends is a peppernut purist. You've been warned!! :-)

Kruidnoten
1 cup of self-rising flour
¾ cup of brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon of ground aniseed
2 teaspoons of cinnamon
1 teaspoon of white pepper
1 teaspoon of salt
½ teaspoon of ginger
2 tablespoons of butter

Knead everything together into a stiff dough. You may have to add a tablespoon or two of water if it's too stiff. Wrap and rest the dough in the fridge, preferably overnight but at least for a couple of hours to let the flavors blend.

Roll small pieces of dough into little balls and place them on parchment paper or a silicone mat on a baking sheet and slightly press them down. Because of the self-rising flour they will puff up a bit.

Bake them at 400F in about 15 minutes until nicely browned. Let them cool on a rack. Mix with chocolate coins, and hard candy to make an excellent "throw mix" for Zwarte Pieten!




13 comments:

  1. I literally just made these. I've now lived in the UK for most of my life, having left Holland as a child, but miss the Dutch Christmas foods so much! When it came up in my Facebook newsfeed I knew I had to make them! And it wasn't just one batch, oh no, I've gone and made seven batches to share out between friends and family for Christmas! Thanks so much for this!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Brussels Lof? The real grey, bitter, vegetable, stored during the winter under a mound of earth and despised by children and many adults? Cooked in the oven with melted cheese or "geprakt" with potatoes and "jus" from een "schouderkarbonaatje" on Sunday afternoon. Now a genetically engineered, bleak, tasteless, copy, even eaten as a salad.

    ReplyDelete
  3. do you have a recipe for the origional pepernoten im really struggling to find them or a recipe for them!

    ReplyDelete
  4. hi nicole, we just tried to make the kruidnoten but we failed miserably! they basically spread into one big cookie mass.. didn't taste them yet but the structure seems wrong. in other recipes i looked up there wasnt any egg, do you think that might have caused this? the oven was defenitely hot enough. ok, to our pepernoten cookies now :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. also most recipes have you roll a thin roll and cut the right amount before rolling them into small balls, the texture of these doughs seems very different, ours was extremely sticky? hope you can help, we're pepernoten desperate!

      Delete
    2. Annerieke, the dough per the recipe is pretty stiff. If yours is too sticky, add enough flour to where you can handle the dough. Refrigerating the dough after you knead it, will help too.

      Delete
  5. Would these cookies (Kruidnoten) or speculaas be the same thing as "korstje"? I was reading a book entitled, "A Day on Skates" by Hilda van Stockum to the kids and she mentions these on page 11 as being "a favorite with skaters with their hot chocolate". I thought it would be fun to make some of the foods she talks about in the book. I see a recipe for split pea soup here as described, with the sausage etc mentioned in the book, but cannot seem to find the "little spicy Dutch cake, especially loved by skaters" that she mentions. Any thoughts? It''s a great book if you haven't read it! (Children's book, but interesting for grown-ups too!)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mary, thank you for your message and the book reference! Korstjes are more like taai-taai, of which there is also a recipe on the blog. For shaping, google "amsterdamse korstjes" and you'll see an example: it's like a flat roll with an indentation in the middle. Best of luck!

      Delete
  6. I just made my first batch, as my three year old grandson absolutely loves the ones from the Dutch shop. He told me they are his favourite biscuit. They turned out perfectly. Thanks so much for this fabulous recipe.

    Do you refrigerate your dough for an hour or two before making them, to let the flavours blend? I must say they were so flavoursome without resting the dough, but I do see that step listed elsewhere as essential. Do you mind me asking how you store them, not that I imagine they will last long in my house, but I did wonder if an airtight container out of the fridge is good enough, or whether they should be refrigerated. And also how far ahead they can be made before eating — like at Christmas, can I do them a few days ahead for example. Michelle

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Michelle! I am glad your grandson loved the kruidnoten! I don't always refrigerate the dough before using it, but it will develop the flavors further if you choose to do so. It's not essential, but it doesn't hurt.

      The kruidnoten do not have to be refrigerated after baking, so a container on the kitchen counter or elsewhere should do fine. If there is a lot of humidity in the environment, an airtight container might be best for maintaining the crispness of the biscuit - but I agree with you, they probably don't last long. You can bake them as far as a week ahead or even two: once they're baked they don't spoil. There may not be any left by the time the holidays come around though, so I would suggest one or two days ahead is best. You'll know you'll have plenty to share, and it makes your house smell great! Thanks for stopping by, Michelle, and come see us on our Facebook page!

      Delete
  7. Any chance you can tell us the name of the lovely book
    in the background with the legend of St Nicholas?
    Plan on making the cookies today. Thank you so much for the recipe!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anna, you are very welcome! The book is called "Tales Told in Holland" by Olive Beaupre Miller, and it's usually available from Amazon.

      Delete

I welcome your comments! Please be so considerate as to include a name, as anonymous comments will be deleted. Comments will appear as soon as they are monitored (usually within 24 hours). If you have a direct question, please consider emailing me at nicole at thedutchtable dot com for a faster response, or post on our Facebook page.