Pepernoten also called kruidnoten or ginger nuts, a small Dutch spiced cookie, is a treat that is traditionally eaten at the Sinterklaas festival. Sinterklaas is a legendary figure based on Saint Nicholas, patron saint of children. The feast of Sinterklaas celebrates the name day of Saint Nicholas on 6 December. The feast is celebrated annually with the giving of gifts on St. Nicholas’ Eve (5 December) in the Netherlands and on the morning of 6 December.
Sinterklaas is the primary source of the popular Christmas icon of Santa Claus
Saint Nicholas was a Greek bishop of Myra in present-day Turkey. He is depicted as an elderly, stately and serious man with white hair and a long, full beard. He wears a long red cape over a traditional white bishop’s alb and sometimes red stola, dons a red mitre and ruby ring, and holds a gold-coloured crosier, a long ceremonial shepherd’s staff with a fancy curled top. He traditionally rides a white horse.
Sinterklaas is assisted by many Zwarte Piet or Black Pete. Helpers with black faces in colourful Moorish dress. Zwarte Piet’s colourful dress is based on 16th-century noble attire, with a ruff (lace collar) and a feathered cap. He is typically depicted carrying a bag which contains candy for the children, which they toss around, a tradition supposedly originating in the story of Saint Nicholas saving three young girls from prostitution by tossing golden coins through their window at night to pay their dowries.
Sinterklaas and his helpers arrive by boat, now believed coming from Spain but originally coming from Turky.
(This story is based on Wikipedia)
Who connected us?!: We go to visit our family in the Netherlands sometimes with Christmas. Sinterklaas is celebrated a few weeks before Christmas but we always ask the family to buy some Pepernoten for us and safe them for us. As a child my mum got a cookbook for children and the recipe for pepernoten is in her book. We make it a few times each year.
Makes: 25-30 small pepernoten | Preparation: 30 min | Cooking time: 20 minutes
- Speculaaskruiden, ½ spoon
- Stroop, 1 spoon
- Self rising flour, 125 gram
- Unsalted Butter, 25 gram
- Browns Sugar, 50 gram
- Salt, ½ tea spoon
- Milk, 1 spoon
How we made the Pepernoten
- We got all the ingredients and measured the quantities.
- Then we turned on the oven to pre-heat at 180°C.
- We combined all ingredients in a large bowl and mixed them with our hands. Don’t forget to wash your hands first :-).
- You keep kneading until you have one ball of dough that does not stick to your hands anymore. The ball will be a little bit sticky but you can easily take it out of the bowl and play with it. Be careful not to hit the sealing or you get in trouble.
- Put a sheet of baking paper on a baking tray.
The fun part
- Now the fun part start, making little balls of the dough the size of a marble. Put them on the baking tray but do not flatten them.
- After you have made all the little balls and the oven is hot, ask an adult to put the tray in the oven.
- Bake the Pepernoten in around 20 minutes.
- When the Pepernoten are baked let them cool down outside the oven before you start eating them. They should be crispy inside.
Speculaaskruiden: It might be difficult to find these spices because it is typically Dutch. Speculaaskruiden is a mixture of different spices. You can make your own, follow this recipe.
Stroop: Also something that might be difficult to find. It is a thick and sticky syrup which you can replace with maple syrup.
Marble size: When you roll the dough into small balls it is important not to make them to big. I know it is tempting because you finish rolling quicker, but your Pepernoten will not get crunchy.
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