{3} Kruidnootjes

Christmas would not be Christmas with lots of little spiced biscuits, and this is one that fits the bill perfectly. These are kruidnoten (“spice nuts”) or kruidnootjes (“little spice nuts”) from the Netherlands.

pepernoten1

Kruidnoten are small, crunchy biscuits made with brown sugar and loaded with Christmas spices. They are also incredibly cute – they are actually tiny (less than a small cherry!) and are often given to children in bags, or poured into bowls to munch on while you’re enjoying the festivities.

The good news is they are also incredibly easy to make, great if you’re in a hurry, don’t fancy tackling something too complex or need a quick home-made gift. You just have to whip up butter, sugar and a dash of syrup, then work in some spices and flour. The fun bit was shaping the kruidnoten. I cut the dough into four pieces, and rolled each into a long snake shape. Then (like the geek I am…) I used a ruler and a knife to cut equally-sized pieces, then rolled them into balls. That probably sounds like an unnecessary degree of obsession, but  you know what? All the cookies ended up exactly the same size when they were baked, so I was left feeling rather pleased.

Another real boon is that this is a good cookie choice to make with younger children as there are no complicated steps to follow and, critically, no raw eggs are involved. That means that if little fingers start to stuff the raw dough in their mouths, it will still be perfectly safe (even if the baking powder might not be the tastiest thing they’ve ever eaten). Cutting and rolling the dough into little balls is good fun, and the kruidnoten will cool quickly after baking. This means that little helpers can then eat the fruits of their labour quite quickly, preserving festive kitchen harmony.

Now, you could just leave them as they are and end there. Or…there is one alternative. Dip ’em in dark chocolate. This is definitely not traditional, but I can promise you that this is utterly delicious. The dark chocolate works beautifully with the sweet, crunchy, spicy biscuit, and if they if you add salt to the cookies, this contrasts with the sweetness of the chocolate too. If you have tempered the chocolate properly, they also look really rather stunning when served alongside tea, coffee or hot chocolate.

kruidnoten3

One final tip – I’ve had shop-bought kruidnoten in the past, and they stay crisp for a while, but the home-made version can go soft after a day or so if you leave them out. This makes it essential to keep them in an airtight container, but if you don’t do that, you can easily re-crisp them by baking them for a few minutes in a low oven (remember you’re drying out, not baking them). Of course, if they are dipped in chocolate, you don’t need to worry about that…just sayin’…

kruidnoten2

To make kruidnoten (makes around 64):

• 125g plain flour
• 2 teaspoons mixed spice
• pinch of ground black pepper
 • 1 teaspoon baking powder
• 1/8 teaspoon salt
• 50g butter

• 30g soft brown sugar
• 35g muscavado sugar
• 1 teaspoon syrup (golden, treacle or honey)
• milk, to combine
• 250g dark chocolate, for dipping (optional)

1. Mix the flour, spice, pepper, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Put to one side.

2. In a separate bowl, cream the butter, sugar and syrup until soft and fluffy. Add the dry ingredients and mix well. Add enough milk until the mixture comes together (a tablespoon at a time – the dough should be soft, but not sticky). Wrap in cling film and chill for an hour or overnight.

3. Preheat the oven to 170°C (340°F). Double-line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.

4. Divide the dough into four pieces (mine weighed 271g, so I had 4 x 67g…I’m rather nerdy when it comes to measuring). Roll each piece into a long sausage and cut into 16 pieces (again…I rolled mine out until it was 32cm long, then put a ruler next to it and cut equal pieces of 2cm…).

5. Roll each piece of dough into a ball and place them on the baking sheet with a little space between them. You might have to bake them in two batches.

6. Bake the kruidnoten for around 14-16 minutes (turning the tray half-way) until slightly puffed and a spicy aroma comes from the oven. Remove the tray and put the  kruidnoten on a rack. They should harden as they cool.

7. If you want to, dip the cooled kruidnoten in dark chocolate for a more indulgent festive treat.

Worth making? A definate yes – very easy to make, and utterly delicious and more-ish. A true Dutch delight!

7 Comments

Filed under Christmas, Recipe, Sweet Things

7 responses to “{3} Kruidnootjes

  1. They look amazing! I have never hear of them before (despite having lived near the Dutch border for 6 years …) but they sound absolutely delicious!

    • Thanks! Funny thing with festive baking….seems that you get so many local things, not surprised you didn’t hear of them! I lived in Brussels for 4 years, and there were plenty of things to discover each year, and none of the Dutch stuff seemed to reach us (unless you looked in HEMA).

  2. These look delicious, I wish I knew where to find them in Sydney!

    • Hi – you could make them! Seriously, these are super-easy, you can make the dough in about 10 minutes, and baking them is also quick. For spices, I used on teaspoon of garam masala spice mixture, half a spoon of cinnamon and a quarter each of ground ginger and nutmeg. Delicious!

  3. Rebecka

    Oh these look so cute!
    I wonder if I can use the left over speculaas spice mix I have from trying out gevulde speculaas the other week. Maybe balance it out with a little more ginger or something.
    I’ve never thought about Dutch baking before, but one of my classmates is Dutch (gotta love international programs) and he brought some gevulde speculaas to class. Since I was sitting next to him I got to taste some and started looking for recipes. I always turn to your blog for christmas baking (love the Norwegian sirupsnipper from a couple of years back! Need to make them this year again) and since I see this easy Dutch recipe I thought I should just keep going!

    • Hi Rebecka – happy to be of help! Speculaas spice mix would be perfect here. These are super easy and very tasty, but if you have the time, patience and will, try them dipped in chocolate, really takes them to another level.

      Very flattered to be a “go to” source for Christmas baking. I probably spend more time that is really normal looking for inspiration in the run up to Christmas, but it is a fun way to see what else goes on around the world. Perhaps for next year I need something from Jamaica or Barbados with lots of rum? I think we have a plan…

      You might like to know that tomorrow’s post is inspired by Swedish luciabullar, but I’ll say no more until then.

      • Rebecka

        Excellent! Then I need to try these out… man, the amount of cookies and other sweets I want to make for christmas is getting out of hand. At least three recipes from here I just -have- to make (cause they all seem so easy!), then normal gingerbread, and three or so different types of christmas candy. I better get going already!

        Oh yes, that sounds like an excellent idea!
        I’m not a big fan of traditional Swedish christmas food, and I remember one year I made myself something mum calls “Caribbean salmon” to eat while the others gorged themselves on pork. Even if it’s a way I prefer to make salmon all year round, it does have a christmas flare to it with spices like ginger and cloves (paired with less christmassy spices like piri piri and paprika), mixed with unrefined sugar and of course drenched with dark rum to make it really get into the fish. So delicious and way better than ham and sausages!

        Have you ever tried something called a saffron pancake, from the Swedish island of Gotland? It’s my planned christmas dessert this year. It’s based on rice pudding and with plenty of saffron in it. So seems very fitting indeed!

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