The most popular Dutch feast day, Sinterklaas (the Feast of Saint Nicholas) on December 5 is all about cinnamon-scented, almond-filled treats. Here are a few of our favorite recipes for the most beloved of Dutch holidays.
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Their small size belies the aromatic punch packed by these homemade Dutch holiday cookies. Flavored with a heady blend of spices, including ginger, cinnamon, white pepper, cardamom, cloves and nutmeg, these gingerbread-style cookies are the one classic treat you can't do without on Sinterklaas.
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Not to be confused with kruidnoten, these traditional aniseed and honey flavored cookies have a subtle licorice flavor, a rustic rusk-like shape, and a slightly chewy texture, which make pepernoten somewhat of an acquired taste. This recipe, from Koekje cookbook, couldn't be more classic.
03 of 20
Speculaas-Flavored Coffee Recipe
Our speculaas coffee recipe makes a warming seasonal drink that tastes like a gingerbread-flavored hug. It is laced with an artisanal speculaas brandy known as Schelvispekel and topped with a snowy mound of whipped cream and toasted almonds. Aaaah, let the cold weather come....
04 of 20
Borstplaat (Dutch Fondant Candy Recipe)
This recipe for roomborstplaat from De Banketbakker cookbook makes a good, basic version of the traditional Dutch candy that is enjoyed on Dutch festive occasions such as Sinterklaas and Kerst. Use your favorite flavor extracts, (natural) food colorings and molds to create borstplaat in whatever shape, flavor or color you fancy.Continue to 5 of 20 below.
05 of 20
Butternut Squash with Speculaas Spices Recipe
Our baked butternut squash recipe is a seasonal choice for your family's fall table. We've punched it up with a little heat, using our favorite dried chili pepper flakes (we're obsessed with Turkish pul biber, which adds a superb smoky note) and added aromatic warmth with our stand-by mix of speculaas spices.
06 of 20
Fluffy Pancakes with Kruidnoten Recipe
These fluffy pancakes with kruidnoten from Maak Van De Noot Een Deugd cookbook are similar in size to drie in de pan, because you can fit three of these beauties in a large frying pan. Of course, a traditional drie in de pan recipe uses currants or raisins, while here spicy Dutch kruidnoten add flavor and interest.
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Duivekater RecipeContinue to 9 of 20 below.
09 of 20
In days gone by there were separate bakers for cakes and cookies, sugar work, bread and pies in the Netherlands. In his book Koekje, well-known Amsterdam patissier Cees Holtkamp calls taai-taai "a typical cake baker's recipe". You will notice that the Holtkamp's recipe is somewhat similar to that of pepernoten. That's because pepernoten were often made from leftover taai-taai dough.
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The Sinterklaas tradition of giving your loved ones a letter representing the first initial of their name in bread, cake or pastry dates back to the 16th century. The custom may have arisen from the habit of teaching medieval convent students to write using loose bread letters, which could be eaten as a reward when the student passed his test. With its flaky puff pastry shell and squidgy center of spijs(almond paste), our banketstaaf recipe is delicious for the holidays. The only real difference between it and the banketletter is the shape. Simply double the recipe given and shape into the letter of your choice before baking.
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Speculaas, speculaas, speculaas... it seems to be everywhere this time of year. Not only in the guise of those crispy speculaas cookies (often mistakenly dubbed 'windmill cookies' by tourists, referring to a common shape used), but also figurines, sweet almond paste filled bars and other speculaas-flavored cakes and pastries. This crispy speculaas log features a soft, flavorful spijs (almond paste) center and is decorated with almonds and crystallized brown sugar.Continue to 13 of 20 below.
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Spijscakes (Almond Paste Cakes)
Our spijscakes (no, not that type of spacecake) are made with that Dutch seasonal favorite, almond paste (called spijs in the Netherlands), and enriched with almond liqueur. Flaked almonds add crunch and yet another level of deep almond flavor to these moreish muffins. While the use of spijs makes them a natural choice for Dutch festive occasions such as Pasen, Sinterklaas or Kerst, these cakelets are scrummy enough to enjoy throughout the year.
14 of 20
Apple & Pear Chutney with Speculaas Spices
Our homemade blend of speculaas spices adds a Dutch touch to chutney, the Indian relish. Serve it with a cheese plate or your favorite stews or casseroles. The recipe makes enough so that you can give some away as a deliciously edible gift.
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As with traditional chipolatapudding, you could use any combination of nuts and candied fruits here, but instead of bitterkoekjes (bittersweet almond cookies similar to amaretti) this recipe from Maak Van De Noot Een Deugd cookbook uses kruidnoten to give a seasonal spin to the classic Dutch dessert.
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Venison Stew with Kruidnoten Recipe
This venison stew recipe by Dick Soek, the Dutch chef-owner of Michelin-starred Het Schathoes in Leens, situated in the northern Dutch province of Groningen, uses kruidnoten cookies. Ingeniously, the cookies melt into the stew, giving off their spiced flavor, while simultaneously acting as a thickening agent.
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Crispy layers of speculaas, that ginger-cinnamon flavored cookie, decorated with almonds, encase a soft, flavorful almond spijs center. What could be yummier for the holidays?
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The combination of gingerbread spices, creamy white chocolate and bitter Dutch cocoa powder really works here. The cocoa tempers the tooth-aching sweetness of the white chocolate, while the kruidnoten spices deliver their festive warmth. While "truffel kruidnoten" are a newfangled Sinterklaas treat, we happily predict that we probably won't be seeing the last of this new twist on the classic kruidnoten recipe anytime soon.