You know that the special holiday season, starting with Sinterklaas, is approaching when a series of traditional sugary sweets start showing up in the local bakeries, with coffee at work or if your best friend shows up with "iets lekkers" (something tasty) in a small bag at your appointed tea time.

Enamel-chipping sweet, borstplaat is one of those traditional candies. Fabricated purely from sugar and water, and sometimes a splash of heavy cream for good measure, borstplaat is one of the sweetest confections around. And, honesty dictates me to say, also one of the most addictive ones. Thankfully, it only shows up around the holidays, so you get your fill, vow to never, ever eat another piece of borstplaat again and after about a week wait impatiently wait till next year until you see those innocent-looking, cute little figurines or sugar hearts in the bakery's shop window again......

Thankfully (or not, as the case may be), this sweet candy is easy to make at home. Furthermore, it allows you to be creative with flavors, shapes and dimensions, so the sky is the limit. Traditional tastes encourage strawberry, coffee and a lighter cream flavor, but as soon as you have the hang of making this lovely sweet, you can pull out all stops and go for gold: how about banana flavor, almond, chocolate, caramel, peppermint, coconut? The grocery store offers many varieties of flavorings, natural or otherwise, that you can stir in and make your own personal batch of borstplaat. Try flavored lemonade powders, coffee creamers or basic materials such as instant coffee or Dutch cocoa powder.

The molds used in the photograph are old-fashioned borstplaat molds that belonged to my grandmother Pauline. The metal mold is held together by a small pin: after the sugar cools, you remove the pin, carefully separate the legs of the heart and the candy un-molds from the metal. As it takes a while for the candy to set, it is not easy to push it out of the mold without it breaking.

If you cannot find these molds, try using silicone candy molds, or pouring the borstplaat on a slightly buttered piece of parchment paper, let it set until almost hardened and cut out shapes with cookie cutters. It takes a try or two to know when the borstplaat is still soft enough to be cut but not too hard to break, so don't be afraid to give it a try. And if you miss the deadline, no worries. Break the borstplaat into edible chunks and call it good, it's all about the flavor!

1 cup (200 grams) white sugar
3 tablespoons milk, water or heavy cream
Parchment paper

Lightly grease the molds and set them on top of slightly greased parchment paper on a baking sheet. Heat the sugar with the milk, water or heavy cream in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and stir until the sugar gets "woolly", about five minutes. Dip a fork into the mix; if the sugar forms a sheet on the tines, it's ready to be poured.

Take the sugar off the stove, mix in two drops of vanilla extract, stir and count to five. Now pour the hot sugary mix into the molds. Let it rest for thirty minutes, then carefully see if you can tip the molds on the side so that the bottom can cool and dry. When the candy feels hardened enough (it is difficult to say how long it takes as each kitchen is different, but give it a good another thirty minutes), carefully take the pin out of the mold and separate the sides. If you use silicone molds, see if it will allow you to unmold at this time without breaking. If not, eat the evidence and wait a little longer for the other ones :-)

Let the candy cool on a rack until dry. Keep in a jar or tin that closes well: extreme moisture will make this candy crumbly and soft.


  1. Something I've never been able to eat. Terrible! I like nougat though. Not the hard Spanish turron but the French one from Montelimar.

  2. Leuk om wereldwijd de recepten en andere dingen van Nederland bekend te maken maar het zou misschien wel aardig zijn om ook de Nederlandse taal te gebruiken op een site waar Nederlandse zaken worden verteld.

    1. Misschien had je beter moeten lezen, deze mevrouw woont in de USA en schrijft dus niet enkel voor Nederlands publiek. Verder denk ik dat het goed is als buitenlanders in het Engels kunnen lezen over Nederlandse gebruiken en eten. Dit soort dingen zijn toch niet exclusief voor de Nederlander?

    2. ...and some of us don't remember all of our Dutch anymore, but really like to make some of the things we used to eat as children when we lived in Holland.

  3. I've waited twenty years to come across this recepie, with many failed attempts to create mums treats. She would use evap milk, and they were always good. Question, what temperature is 'ready to be poured '. Sorry, I'm a scientist not a chef :). Thanks. Gordon, from Chester.


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