|Pink and white "mice",|
aniseed dipped in a sugary coating.
Each seed has a little stem that causes the
bread topping to look like a small
mouse...hence the name.
Breakfast usually consists of two to 4 slices of bread, depending on whether you prefer open or closed faced sandwiches. The Dutch spread butter or margarine on their bread to hold on to the toppings. One sandwich will have a savory cover such as cheese, liver paté or sandwich meat, and the other one will have a sweet choice. From early on, Dutch children learn to eat the savory sandwich first, and save their appetite and creativity for the sweet one. Because it's not just jam or jelly that's available to the Dutch: in regards to bread toppings, they are the master decorators!
Koninklijke De Ruijter, in existence since 1860, is the main producer of bread toppings in the Netherlands. They carry a solid array of favorites and introduce every so often a new variety. The following bread toppings are by far the most favorite.
Chocoladevlokken were introduced in 1955, as the first chocolate product to decorate a slice of bread. Barely two years later, chocolate hail followed.
These nativity mice, as they were called, were the first product that was sold by De Ruijter in 1860.
Speculaas, or spice cookie, is a crunchy, buttery cookie made with cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, white pepper and cardamom. It's similar to the American windmill cookie but contains a larger variety and amount of spices. Traditionally a December treat, speculaas cookies are now available year round.
Straight out of the package, speculaas cookies are served with morning coffee or afternoon tea. After several days in the cookie jar, the cookies absorb moisture and soften and are no longer presentable to guests. This is when they become a desirable bread topping, especially for children. The softness of the bread, the slightly salty taste of the butter and the spicy sweetness of the speculaas cookie is a winning combination, and one that is engraved in many a Dutch child's memory. For a recipe for speculaas, click here.
These children were so smart as to have a slice of buttered bread: they stuck it out from under the umbrella, had their sandwich hailed on and enjoyed a buttered slice of bread with top notch chocolate!
Nowadays you will find dark chocolate and milk chocolate hail. In order to call chocolate sprinkles "chocolate" they have to have a cocoa content of at least 37.5%. The combination of salty peanut butter and sweet chocolate hail is one of the most favorite toppings for both children and adults.
zuurvlees". Of all the bread toppings, it's probably the healthiest one as it contains large amounts of iron and vitamins. Stroop is pleasant by itself as a topping but will often be used in combination with cheese.
Stroop is traditionally made in the province of Limburg where, nowadays, only two families have continued the tradition of "stroop stoken", "boiling down stroop". A lengthy process, apple and pear juice is reduced in large copper kettles while stirred down continuously. A more tart version called "rinse appelstroop" is made with apples and sugar beets.
And the most humble bread topping of all: