27 gennaio 2013

Kruidnootjes - Dutch Speculoos Cookies - WHB # 368

la ricetta in italiano qui

I'm very tired as I spent the whole day snow-shoeing with friends in a very nice place on the mountains, under a warm sun in a very blue sky.
But I could not miss to post about these sweet lovely cookies I made days ago, to please a Dutch friend ... anxiously awaiting for his real opinion :-).

Hoor wie klopt daar kind’ren? Hoor wie klopt daar kind’ren?
Hoor wie klopt daar zachtjes tegen het raam?
Het is een vreemd’ling zeker, die verdwaald is zeker.
Ik zal hem even vragen naar zijn naam.
Sint Nicolaas, Sint Nicolaas, breng ons vanavond een bezoek
En strooi dan wat lekkers, in een of and’re hoek

Hear, who’s knocking children?
Hear, who’s knocking gently on the window ?
It’s a stranger for sure. That’s lost his way, for sure.
I’ll ask him for his name.
Saint Nicholas, Saint Nicholas, please visit us tonight.
And throw us some candy in a corner of our room

see the video here

This is a very popular Sinterklaas (Santa Klaus) song talking about the old tradition of throwing candies - kruidnootjes - into children's rooms. Something similar happens in some Italian regions as well, when they celebrate Saint Lucy's Day on 13th Dec. and she brings candies and gifts to the children.
Kirsten tells in her blog about the story of these cookies:
Kruidnootjes and their predecessors pepernoten originally had nothing to do with this children’s feast.
Pepernoten originated in the Middle Ages with the arrival of expensive exotic spices such as pepper. Pepper was thought to possess aphrodisiacal powers and was therefore used to bake fertility cookies. These were thrown at newly weds on their wedding day alongside traditional fertility symbols like rice and flowers.
This throwing of fertility symbols had also been part of an old pagan sowing feast that was celebrated at the beginning of December. The throwing resembled the farmer that sows his fields and it was meant to invoke good spirits. Under the influence of the Catholic Church the sowing feast had slowly been replaced in the 16th century by the Saint Nicholas feast. But traces of the pagan tradition survived by throwing the then fashionable pepernoten.
Nowadays fertility has little to do with this ritual. It’s more about creating a sense of mystery on Saint Nicholas eve: while one parent distracts the kids, the other one secretly throws a hand full of pepernoten through the air leaving the little ones wondering where on earth they came from.
Many people confuse pepernoten with kruidnootjes calling them both pepernoten. The original pepernoten though are made of tougher dough with honey and lots of anise. Kruidnootjes are smaller, crispier and are made with caster sugar and many other spices besides pepper and anise.

The ceramic little clog in the picture has 48 years, it's a souvenir of my parents visit to the Royal Delft during their stay in the Netherlands.

 kruidnootjes-dutch speculoos

For about 50  kruidnootjes:

 1 cup self-raising flour
1/2 cup dark caster sugar
4 oz. soft butter
3 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon speculaas spice mix *
pinch of salt
2 chocolate bars to melt, optional

Sift the flour and knead with the rest of the ingredients, first chopping the butter gently with your fingertips, until dough is smooth and homogeneous. Shape into a ball, wrap in clinging film and let rest in the refrigerator at least half an hour.
Divide the dough into small pieces and shape each into balls, then flatten them slightly and place on a baking tray lined with parchment paper.
Bake for about 20 minutes at 150° until they get golden. Allow to cool on a wire rack.
For more greedy cookies: dip in melted chocolate and let them dry.

My cookies have a more rustic looking because I used a sugar cane in crystals, supposing they would have melted in baking, but wouldn't :-).

kruidnootjes-dutch speculoos

*speculaas spice mix:

6 teaspoons cinnamon powder
2 teaspoons nutmeg powder
1 teaspoon clove powder
½ teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon cardamom powder
1 teaspoon star anise

Mix all ingredients together and store in a tightly closed jar.
To make it easier you can use all the spices already in powder, otherwise just grind in a mortar.
I didn't have star anise, I used a littlesugar-free non-alcoholic Pastis that I buy in France.

This recipe is my personal entry to WHB # 368
hosted by Marta from Mangiare è un po'come viaggiare
both for English and Italian edition.
Thanks again to Haalo who manages greatfully all events,
to Bri for Italian edition.
Thanks again to Kalyn for her successfull idea!

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