The Dutch are not too keen on Santa Claus; instead they have the tradition of Saint Nicolas. The Saint comes to the Netherlands on the 5th of December and gives gifts to all the kids who have been good that year. This tradition is accompanied by a Dutch delicacy known as “kruidnootjes” which are available in shops from September until January. I will call them gingerbread drops, since this is the closest resemblance of English known food. In a lot of the western European countries there is a baked good called speculaas, and the specific combination of spices used for this are called speculaas spices. These resemble spices used in the well-known Gingerbread and are also used in the gingerbread drops. In the Netherlands, all you need to do is buy a package of these speculaas spices and just add them to your batter mix, but since these are not available in every country, for this recipe I will also explain how to make the right mixture of spices. It’s quite an easy and fast recipe, it is mainly the rolling the balls and baking that takes some time.
300 gr flour
150 gr butter (soft/ room temperature)
150 gr brown sugar (you can also use 50 gram of the Danish syrup sugar(see picture)and 100 gram white sugar)
15 gr of the spices mixture
3 normal spoons milk
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
Speculaas spices mixture
This one is quite simple, as soon as you measured everything, just mix it together and you’re done! I didn’t use grams for this because you don’t need that much of the mixture but it’s easy to make a batch for the next time if you bought the spices just for this recipe. You can add more of some of the ingredients if you like to experiment with the taste but be careful with the ginger, cardamom and nutmeg! (In the end, my one rule is “Just try it”, make sure you occasionally taste it until you are happy with the taste)
1. Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, spices mixture and salt in one big bowl. Mix this and then add the butter and milk. The milk is just an estimation, you might need to add more in order to get a good ball of dough that is easy to knead. Taste the dough to see if you might need to add more sugar or spices to suit your taste. If you like the taste of the dough, it is pretty likely that the baked end result will taste good too.
2. Put the ball back in the bowl, cover it up with a cloth and leave it to rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to 1 hour. In the meanwhile pre-heat the oven at 175 °C and cover a baking tray with parchment paper.
3. Take the dough out of the fridge and make small round balls (not bigger than a 1 euro coin) by rolling pieces of dough between your hands. Put these balls on the baking tray and slightly push them down so they will be a bit flat on the bottom.
4. Place the tray with the balls in the oven for about 20 minutes.
5. After 20 minutes, take one of the gingerbread drops and try it, it should be crunchy on the outside but still slightly soft inside. Leave the tray to cool off completely, the gingerbread drops will harden up and the end result will be completely crunchy gingerbread drops.
Gingerbread drops are amazing as they are, accompanied with a cup of tea or hot chocolate when coming home on a cold day (or any day really). One thing that can make them even better is dipping them in melted chocolate after they are cooled down and eat them when the chocolate is hard again (this is equally good in dark, milk and even white chocolate!).
I used several different recipes in order to come up with this one, and there is also a great deal of improvising because I didn’t have the ingredients they have back in the Netherlands. (such as the brown sugar, the spices mixture) This recipe is focused on Finnish products available in every grocery store here and thus slightly altered from the original Dutch recipes.
If you try this recipe, please let me know how it went and what you thought of it! Any form of constructive criticism is very welcome!