A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
The time of pepernoten is officially over. After last night’s Pakjesavond, the evening where Sinterklaas (the Dutch version of Santa) delivered gifts to all children in the Netherlands, and everyone got the final taste of a traditional snack: pepernoten, they will offifially disappear from the shelves. But! This blogpost is here to save the day, with a history lesson and a recipe!
Controversies aside, pepernoten probably dominate the minds of those who otherwise aren’t really familiar with Simterklaas. These tiny tiny cookies are just so addictive, yet only available end mass during maybe 2 months a year. But what is the history if these tiny delicious snacks, and more more importantly how do you make them a home?!!
History of the pepernoot
First of all, even though many people refer to them as pepernoten, this is not accurate. The version that everyone loves so much are actually kruidnoten, pepernoten are actually bigger, more chewy cookies that have a softer flavour, but they are less popular, so when people talk about pepernoten you can assume they mean kruidnoten.
Pepernoten as they are produced today originate from the 18th century, when the Netherlands gained access to affordable spices, sych as cinamon, ginger, peper and nutmeg through their colonies. The shape and hardness of the cookies is also inherently connected with the popularisation of Sinterklaas as a public figure, by making the cookies this hard they’re easier to scatter and throw around for children to catch. Before this time, Sinterklaas wasn’t a public figure, but simply left gifts behind for children without showing his face, and was it less elaborately celebrated as it is now.
Make your own pepernoten!
So now you know a bit about the history of kruidnoten, and also about Sinterklaas as well, but just as important might be how to make them. So here is an easy recipe to share this deliciousness back home:
What you need:
250g self raising flour
125g brown caster sugar
90 ml milk
4 teaspoons speculaas kruiden (1,5 teaspoon cinamon, 3\4 teaspoon nutmeg, 3\4 teaspoon ground clove, 1\2 teaspoon ginger)
A sprinkle salt
Preheat oven at 175°C
Combine all dry ingredients, and mix them together. Add milk and softened butter and kneed the mixture into a solid ball. From this ball make tiny balls the size of a marble.
Spread the little balls of dough our over the oven tray coveted in baking paper, and put it in the oven for 25 minutes.
Let the pepernoten cool down and enjoy!!
You should also definitely try some of the other dutch snacks that revolve around sinterklaas, and will be on sale right now, such as taai taai (a soft chewir dough cookie), chocolate letters, as well as soft speculaas with almond paste!