If you’re fortunate enough to spend time in The Netherlands during the month of December, you are in for a wonderful treat. It is, without a doubt, the month we do the most baking and cooking of the year, and all is meant to be shared with others. As soon as gevulde speculaas, borstplaat and kruidnoten hit the store shelves, you know it’s Saint Nicholas time. The gevulde speculaas and borstplaat will stay and move on to the next holiday, which is Christmas, but kruidnoten are a typical treat for the Saint Nicholas festivities alone.
The outward appearance deceives a bit: the kruidnoot (sometimes mistakenly called pepernoot) looks like nothing more than a hard-baked brown pebble. But once you’ve tried one, perhaps out of sense of duty towards the nice person who urged you to try one in the store or at the bakery, you will find that the flavor is surprisingly complex. A mixture of aniseed, cinnamon, white pepper and ginger, combined with butter, flour and sugar are what these lovely little crispy cookies are made of, and they can be quite addicting!
- 125 grams (4.4 oz) self-rising flour
- 125 grams (4.4 oz) brown sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon of ground aniseed
- 2 teaspoons of cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon of white pepper
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- ½ teaspoon of ginger
- 30 (1 oz) grams butter
Knead everything together into a stiff dough. You may have to add a tablespoon or two of milk if it's too stiff. Wrap and rest the dough in the fridge, preferably overnight but at least for a couple of hours to let the flavors blend.
Roll small pieces of dough into little balls and place them on parchment paper or a silicone mat on a baking sheet and slightly press them down.
Bake them at 200C (400F) in about 15 minutes until nicely browned. Let them cool on a rack.