Tag Archives: muscovado

{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.

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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’…

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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!

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Filed under Christmas, Recipe, Sweet Things

Dark Chocolate Spread

I made this amazing salted chocolate tart a few weeks ago (I can say it was amazing as, frankly, it was). It also got me thinking – could I adapt the filling to make a chocolate spread to enjoy in the morning? Because, you know, I’m greedy sometimes.

As it turns out, the answer to the question of “is it possible?” is a resounding “yes”. I went easy on the salt in this version, but otherwise it’s exactly the same ratios as used in the tart filling – equal weights of dark chocolate, muscovado sugar and double cream, heated until glossy, then poured into a jar and left to cool until the next morning.

So I made it, and had it the next day with breakfast. It really was truly delicious – spread on warm sourdough toast, and allowed to melt slightly. A pretty decadent way to start the day!

To make dark chocolate spread (makes 1 small jar):

• 120g dark chocolate
• 120g muscovado sugar
• 120ml double cream
• scant 1/2 teaspoon salt (or more or less, to taste)

1. Put the sugar, cream and salt in a bowl. Stir well until a lot of the sugar and salt are dissolved, then taste the mixture – add more salt if needed (but only if needed – it’s easy to add too much).

2. Add the chocolate, and place the bowl over a pan of simmering water. Heat, stirring from time to time, until the mixture is thick and glossy.

3. Pour the mixture into a clean jam jar and store somewhere cool and dark until you are ready to eat it, most likely with a spoon!

Note: this will keep for 2-3 days in the fridge.

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Flapjacks

A quick post for a quick recipe. Still cold in London town (just less cold than last week) so I’ve been mixing up batches of flapjacks at the weekends. To keep things interesting, my most recent attempt benefited from the addition of a couple of handfuls of spelt flakes, some juicy sultanas and chopped apricots, and I replaced the plain old white sugar with muscovado. Great with a cuppa when you come in from the chill!

HOW TO MAKE IT

• 175g butter
• 175g sugar (any sort)
• 2 tablespoons of golden syrup
• pinch of salt
• 250g oats
• sultanas, seeds, nuts or dried fruit (optional)

Put the oven on at 190°C, and grease a 20cm baking tray or cake tin (ideally non-stick). Put the butter, sugar, syrup and salt (if using) in a pan. Heat gently until the butter is melted, and then boil for one minute. Add the oats (plus any “extras”) and stir well, then put into a tray, spread the mixture evenly, and bake for 20 minutes.

Once the mega-flapjack is cooked, let it cool completely, then turn onto a chopping board and cut into pieces.

WOULD I MAKE IT AGAIN?

Yes – in fact, I’ve made these twice again since I took the photographs. The spelt flakes were a great addition as they stay quite crisp and a some extra texture to the otherwise soft and chewy flapjack, and the muscovado added more depth of flavour. Now my creativity can run riot and I’ll see what nuts, dried fruit and seeds that I can find lurking at the back of the cupboard for next time…

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