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!
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!! :-)
¾ cup of brown sugar
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!