December is not complete without the celebration of Sinterklaas, the much-discussed tradition on the 5th in the Netherlands and Belgium. No matter where we live, we celebrate this feast for children like we always do: with special presents and funny poems, hot chocolate, home made pea soup, and mandarins for dessert. Here in Berlin, we cannot buy the traditional Sinterklaas candy, so therefore we make our own. Kruidnoten, or “some sort of tiny gingerbread cookies” as my 10-year old explains the treat to her friends, can easily be made at home. My daughter and I made them together, a bit bigger than usual, because that’s how she likes them. It saves time and they taste just as good as smaller ones.
Makes approx. 150
Action Time: 15 minutes + 45 minutes resting + 15 minutes in the oven
4.5 oz/130 g soft butter
5.3 oz/150 g brown caster sugar
10.5 oz/300 g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
3 tsp pumpkin pie spice (see below)
6 tbsp milk
Extra: cling film, 2 baking trays lined with baking paper
1. In al bowl, beat the butter and sugar until fluffy. Sift the flour over and add the baking powder and salt. Add the spices and mix well. Add the milk and knead into a dough. Shape it into a ball, wrap in cling film and leave to rest in the fridge for about 45 minutes to let the flavors blend.
2. Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C. Roll the dough into very small little balls (marble size or a little bigger like we did) and place on the baking trays. Bake the cookies for approx. 20 minutes until done. Allow the kruidnoten to cool before serving.
PUMPKIN PIE SPICE
You can use a store-bought spice blend, but it’s also easy to make your own. Mix the following ground spices: 2 tbsp cinnamon, 2 tsp cloves, 2 tsp nutmeg, 2 tsp mace, 1 tsp ginger, 1 tsp cardamom , 1 tsp white pepper. Stored in an airtight container, the mixture can be kept for a long time.