From my recent trip to the Netherlands, I have a packet of pink muisjes (mini aniseed balls) and beschuit (rusk). The name apparently comes from the fact that the stem is still attached to some of the muisjes, so they look like little mice.
For the Dutch, it is a tradition to serve these up when a child is born – pink for girls and blue for boys. The exception is in the case of the birth of a new princess – in which case they issue limited edition orange muisjes in honour of the official colour of the Dutch Royal House (surprisingly, the House of Orange). I didn’t pick these up randomly, but in anticipation of a baby naming day in West London this weekend. I have been charged with making a birthday cake and cupcakes (which will appear over the coming days as separate posts), and I thought the muisjes would be a nice touch for the parents (who are living temporarily in Brussels) and the godfather (who is Dutch).
So what are they like? Ahead of the day, I tried it out as the Dutch serve them. One slice of beschuit, lightly buttered, and muisjes sprinkled on top. While the muisjes themselves have a strong aniseed taste, combined with the rusk it was a lot milder and they tasted pretty good. All in all, quite a fun thing to celebrate a new baby.
Postscript – I have since learned that the reason to use aniseed in the first place is that this was thought to help the new mother to feed her baby (as, in theory, aniseed stimulated “lactation”). Bizarre food fact!