Showing posts with label Suikerbeestjes (Dutch Sugar Confectionary). Show all posts
Showing posts with label Suikerbeestjes (Dutch Sugar Confectionary). Show all posts


"Er was er eens een suikerbeest" starts a sweet poem by famous Dutch author Annie M.G. Schmidt, about an animal made of sugar, a suikerbeest. "Suikerbeestjes", small sugar animals, are an old-fashioned Dutch confectionary, particularly associated with the celebration of Sinterklaas. These sweets are made in various shapes and colors, resembling small animals, and are crafted from sugar. 

Historically, suikerbeestjes were quite expensive due to the high cost of sugar, which had to be imported into the Netherlands. However, with the discovery and cultivation of sugar beets in the country, the cost of sugar and subsequently suikerbeestjes decreased significantly. Nowadays, they have lost against factory made sugary candy, and only a few professionals and home cooks will engage in the tradition. 

And it's not an easy feat either: the boiling sugar is poured into traditional wooden molds that are held together with clamps, and left to cool. As you can imagine, these sugar creatures can be quite fragile. In Schmidt's poem, the suikerbeestje's mom warns him and says "Pas dus maar op dat je niet breekt", be careful that you don't break.  

Well, I don't have the wooden molds, but I did want to make something sugary for Valentine's Day, especially since "suikerbeestje" can also be a romantic name for a lover. Valentine's Day is celebrated in the Netherlands, but it's a relatively new tradition that only gained popularity in the mid-1990s, influenced by the spread of American culture. 

I picked two types of sugary confections, both associated with Sinterklaassuikerbeestjes and borstplaat - and decided to try both. I used a heart-shaped silicone, heat resistant mold. The suikerbeestjes turned out to be hard as a rock, which is the intention I guess, and were just too big of a lump of sugar - they would do great with a smaller silicone mold, and in the shape of an animal to honor its name. The borstplaat was softer, more tender to the palate, and was perfect for nibbling on while drinking a cup of coffee - and ultimately won out. Borstplaat can be described as similar to fudge but differs in its consistency, being flatter and more brittle. The main ingredients in borstplaat are sugar and cream. 

The sugar can be enhanced with flavoring and food coloring. Be careful when pouring the sugar as it is incredibly hot, and allow the candy to sit overnight before removing it from the molds. If you live in a humid environment, it is probably of the essence to consume these as soon as possible, as the sugar will attract moisture. Makes 6 hearts.


For suikerbeestjes 
1/2 cup (100 grams) white sugar
1/2 cup (50 grams) powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence or extract
3 tablespoons water

For borstplaat
1 cup (200 grams) white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence or extract
3 tablespoons milk, water or heavy cream

Optional: edible glitter or sprinkles

Place the silicone mold on a solid surface, for example, a cutting board, so that you can easily move it out of the way while the sugar sets up. If you want to  use edible glitter or sprinkles, add a pinch to the bottom of each shape. 

Use a pan with a thick bottom, and make sure that the pan is tall enough to allow for the volume to double or triple. Mix the sugars with the vanilla and the liquid in the pan, and bring to a boil on a medium hot stove.  Stir frequently, until the sugar has dissolved. Continue to stir as the sugary syrup starts to bubble up and become "woolly", displaying a white, bubbly surface (see picture). 

Stir for three or four minutes, and then dip a fork in the hot sugar. Lift the fork up. If the syrup coats the tines of the fork without dripping off, it's ready to be taken off the stove. In the photo on the right, you can still see sugar crystals so it needs a few more minutes. 

Once off the heat, stir down the sugary mixture, until all the big bubbles have gone - this will ensure a nice, solid candy. Stir in a drop or two of food coloring if you wish, and stir until you have the desired color. Carefully pour the hot sugary mess into the molds. 

The sugar will set pretty quickly on the outside, but the inside will still be scalding hot, so don't be fooled. Allow it to sit in a safe place for several hours or overnight to set up. 

Amazon Shopping Suggestions

Disclaimer: if you buy through any of the links in the Amazon Prime Shopping Suggestions section, the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program will pay us a small commission on qualifying purchases. It does not increase your cost or price, and it will help us keep the website running. Your support is very much appreciated! 

Don't have Amazon Prime but want to give it a try? This link offers a 30 day trial.