Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Recipe for traditional Dutch "kruidnoten"

With all the controversy around the Dutch Sinterklaas holiday, I thought it would be nice to share something positive about it. Something sweet, so to say ;) One thing that Sinterklaas brings along to celebrate his birthday with us, is traditional candy and cookies. My favourites are "kruidnoten" (often called "pepernoten", although these are a completely different type of cookie), which translates into "spicy nuts". They are small, crumby cookies, flavoured with special spices, souvenirs from another controversial part of our history. As with many traditional Dutch flavours, the origin is actually found in Indonesia. Controversial or not, the cookies are bloody delicious and I thought it would be nice if people outside of the Netherlands could also enjoy them.



This is how you make your own kruidnoten:

Ingredients:
250 gr self-raising flower (or 250 gr of regular flour and 3-4 teaspoons of baking powder)
125 gr brown suger
100 gr soft butter
2 tablespoons of "speculaaskruiden" or "koekkruiden"
3 tablespoons of milk
a good pinch of salt

Now I can imagine that not every supermarket around the world sells speculaaskruiden or koekkruiden. In fact, I mixed my own spices as well, since I had all the necessary spices in stock. This is a recipe to make the spice mix for kruidnoten. You can also use it to make for instance a spicy sponge cake or use them in an apple pie.

Beware, this might very easily become a sneeze fest!

Speculaaskruiden contain the following spices, all in ground form:
cinnamon (8 parts)
nutmeg (2 parts)
cloves (1 part)
cardemom (1 part)
white pepper (1 part)
coriander (1 part)
ginger (1 part)
aniseed (1 part)
mace (1 part)

For the Dutch among us, that's: kaneel, nootmuskaat, kruidnagel, kardemom, witte peper, koriander, gember, anijszaad en foelie.

I used a scale to measure these spices, because I hate fiddling about with measuring spoons and spice containers that have tiny holes. So I measured 1 gr of all spices, except nutmeg (2 gr) and cinnamon (8 gr). If any of the spices aren't available to you, just leave them out. You can also tweek the mixture to your personal preference. For instance, you can make it spicier by adding more ginger. If you prefer a milder version, leave out the white pepper or substitute the nutmeg with mace (these spices are from the same plant, and have similar tastes).

To make the kruidnoten:

Preheat the oven to 150 degrees centigrade. Sift the flower (and the baking powder) into a bowl. Make a well in the middle and add all other ingredients. Work all ingredients together with your fingertips until the butter has completely incorporated everything. Then kneed to form a dough (this is still quite brittle, that doesn't matter). Line a baking tray with a sheet of baking paper. From the dough, form small balls, about the size of hazelnuts (I made mine too large.. oops!). Place them on the baking tray and bake for around 20 minutes.

Enjoy your kruidnoten!

And an encore because I bloody love this spice: