Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Strooigoed / A Dutch tradition in candy

Tonight is the night! Mid November Sinterklaas arrives on his steamship all the way from Spain, loaded with presents and accompanied by his white horse Amerigo and all of his helpers. With him he carries the Big Bold Red Book in which he keeps notes from all the kids in the country and their behaviour.....were they good or bad, are they going to get presents?

Suspense builds and finally tonight he celebrates his birthday by handing out presents to all children in our country. His helpers climb down chimneys (or central heating pipes...?!) to secretly deposit presents.... For the bigger children (and adults) there will be "surprise gifts" and poems. Fun and laughter and plenty of Dutch "gezelligheid".
And candy! Lots of candy. From left to right some of the traditional candy that is typical for Sinterklaas:
Marzipan potatoes (little balls of marzipan rolled in cacao), soft sugar candy in traditional shapes (wooden shoe with a carrot for the horse, Sinterklaas himself, his helpers, windmills, steamship), modern take in wine-gum, and a spiced cookie log filled with almond paste.
This year I finally managed to make speculaas and use my wooden stamps successfully! I did make speculaas before, wrestled the molds, got frustrated and cheated by using cutters to form cookies. This is a brand new mold, but even my old/antique one worked this time. I think it's all about the texture of your dough and flouring the mold just so. I used Lien's recipe this time (great tutorial! in English and Dutch), and followed Gea's advice (Dutch but great pics!) to use a brush for flouring the mold.

There are many recipes out there so I won't repeat them here, basics are chilled and rested dough (preferrably one night) and the use of "speculaas" spices. These spice mix is found in any Dutch supermarket this time of year, there are two varieties, "koekkruiden" (cookie spice), or "speculaas" spice. The difference between the two is in the addition of cloves in the speculaas spices. In some mixes you'll find coriander and orange peel as well. Make your own mix:

8 ts ground cinnamon
2 ts ground nutmeg
2 ts ground cloves
1 ts ground white pepper
1 ts ground ginger
1 ts ground cardamom or anise
The spices used reflect the Dutch heritage in spice travel, going back to the Golden Age.
(Found at Coquinaria which is a great collection of historical recipes in Dutch and English).

Oh....and of course.... if you make the dough recipe and won't have time nor patience (or access) to handle the molds, call your children to the kitchen table and plan an afternoon of fun: roll "pepernoten" (peppernuts), even the smallest kids can join in. Just take marble sized pieces of dough and roll between the palms of your hand. Go Dutch traditional and serve hot chocolate, sing the Sinterklaas songs!(click on one of the titles to hear children sing our traditional songs.

Btw... the dough itself is perfect to snack on....

Just in case you thought I covered it way! There is so much more:

Ik wens iedereen een hele fijne en gezellige Sinterklaas avond!


  1. haha see even from just the Dutch name I knew pepernoten was my style! And the dough is a perfect snack, that's my kind a cookie.
    The speculaas are really impressive! Dang, wish I could sit at that long table sharing a cookbook and have tea with those!

  2. When I was in fourth grade we had to select a country and report on its holiday traditions. I chose Holland because it seemed the most fun. Yes, it does.

  3. Mooi dat je op deze manier een stukje van onze Nederlandse cultuur de wereld over stuurt. Sinterklaas is toch een geweldig feest. In deze cleane wereld een prachtig sprookje om ook als volwassene nog altijd in te geloven.

    Groetjes truus

  4. Happy Sinterklass Day! Your cookies look beautiful! I'll join Tanna and you with some tea! And thanks for the recipe for the special spices! My supply is almost gone as I use it in Tanna's muffins every week! Have fun!

  5. Just finished celebrating Sinterklaas with a group of toddlers. You speculaas look wonderful. Still have to try out my moulds that I bought last Koninginnedag.

  6. O jij hebt ook al van die prachtige speculaasvormen!(jaloers??? ik????) Ze zien er schitterend uit!
    Het blijft een leuke traditie, waar ik van vroeger ook leuke herinneringen aan heb. Ik vind het zelf toch veel leuker dan de kerstman. Maar ben ook elk jaar weer blij dat het er op zit, na meters pakpapier en 30 to 40 gedichten heb ik het wel gehad....maar vooral de stress bij de nog (klein)gelovigen onder ons...pfff nou weer wat rust! En op naar de kerst....

  7. Hé wat goed. Zo zie je maar weer:'De aanhouder wint!'
    Ik vind jouw speculaasplankjes overigens ook leuk. Bleef de tekening van de figuren na het bakken ook zo duidelijk?

  8. Yeah here in our home also saint Niklas came today.
    Actually when my daughter was younger we had so much fun but now she is 15 she know it is her parents who are doing it.
    Still the table was full with chocolates, marsepain etc.... these days no toys any more but teenage things

  9. I always thought our Dutch traditions pale compared to the feasts elsewhere in the world but upon writing this... We do have fun!

    @Sue and Tanna: we will some day!
    @ Susan: I feel flattered, thanks for going Dutch!
    @ Linda: yes, do try! It will work with this recipe and using a brush.
    @Truus: dank je!

    @Lien en Gea: De kleinere vormpjesplank komt bij de kringloop vandaan en ze bleven heel mooi na het bakken. De grotere klomp is nieuw en daar waren de details vrijwel weg na het bakken.

    @Happy Cook: I know, but still it's so much fun although with my three boys it's harder to think of presents. I think it's easier with a teenage girl?

  10. I miss Europe so bad. Every year I used to make Speculaas with m grandmother because they are my grandfather's favorites. I have kept the tradition here for us and usually send him a box. I just love the scent of these cookies...make any tree decorating a little more special!

  11. I tried making Speculaas in a mold years ago and was not successful. Maybe it's time to try again. Yours are truly beautiful. Happy Sinterklass Day!

  12. Hi there, just found you on Lucillian Delights.

    I love Speculaas...they have been my favourite biscuit for years and years. We used to live in Holland when I was about 3 or 4 and I have never forgotten.

    I have done a post on my blog, of me on Sinterklass lap, that was a quite few years ago!!!

    Merry Christmas.

    Will add you to my blog roll.

  13. Tonight I had some of that cookie log stuffed with marzipan at a friend's house that her brother had sent from Amsterdam. It was amazingly good. Do you know what it is called, or where I might find a recipe? I've been hunting and hunting for this information without success! I finally came upon your picture and was so happy to find out I hadn't imagined the whole thing. Thanks!

  14. hello guys I love your story of Santa Claus when you're a child and experience the Christmas everything becomes part of a magical world with sweets and desserts, etc. .. I love your blog thank you very much for sharing the information.

  15. Today my daughter and I enjoyed Strooigoe which a friend brought back from a visit to the Amsterdam Christmas Market. How can we purchase this delightful treat in the United States? We just love the combination of tiny gingerbread bites with fruity jelly beans and airy, almost merigne-like strawberry hearts. You Dutch are very lucky to have such treats!

  16. I have to admit that it all looks delicious. Especially the Christmas cookies. Devine.


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