Recipes for Saint Nicholas candy

NB: 1 cup = 236 ml.; 1 gram = 0,0353 ounces

Speculaas

3 cups flour
a pinch of baking powder
2/3 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
some milk to soften the dough
2 teaspoons of speculaaskruiden*
a pinch of salt
1/2 cup almonds: blanched and slivered. Keep some almond halves for decorating

Knead all ingredients into a soft ball, except the almonds for decorating. Roll out on a floured board to 1/4 inch thickness and stamp out shapes with different butterprints or make a 'gingerbread doll' or cookie. Bake about 25 minutes in a moderate oven (350° F / 180° C), or until an even dark brown.

Speculaaskruiden:

You can buy them ready-mixed in the Netherlands or you can try making your own. They consist of:
cinnamon
powdered cloves
nutmeg
powdered coriander
allspice
aniseed
powdered ginger
powdered cardamon
mace

The proportions are a matter of taste, as are the spices you use, and each baker has his own "secret" blend. The trick is to be careful with the very strong spices, and leave out the ones you don't like!

Borstplaat

1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup light cream
1 1/4 tbsp. butter and some butter for brushing the molds
3 tbsp. fruit-flavored extract or 4 tbsp. instant coffee of 2 tbsp. cocoa

Place tin rings or other open molds on a large piece of wax paper. (Lids of tins may be used as substitutes). Brush paper and molds with softened butter. Put sugar, cream, butter and the coffee or cocoa flavoring in a saucepan (if fruit extract is used, it should be added later). Bring to the boil slowly without stirring, until you get a syrupy substance; this takes about five minutes. A drop of this syrup dropped into a cup of cold water should form a little ball or pea. Remove pan from heat at once (stir in fruit extract). Stir to cool and pour into the prepared molds when the syrup becomes very hard to pour, to a thickness of about 1/4 to 1/2 inch; the smaller the molds, the thinner the 'borstplaat'. Cool in the molds, then remove. Serve with coffee or tea.

Marzipan

Mix 250 grams of ground almonds with 400 grams of sieved icing sugar. Knead the almonds, castor sugar and 3 or 4 tablespoons rose water into a supple dough. Wrap in plastic or aluminum foil and allow to rest in a cool place overnight. Make figurines of the marzipan.
If you wish, you can color the marzipan with food coloring.

Taai Taai (Gingerbread)

Mix 300 grams honey with half an egg. Knead this into a supply dough, with 300 grams sieved flour, 12 grams baking powder and 10 grams ‘speculaas’ spices. Allow the dough to rest for at least 12 hours. Roll the dough between two greased sheets of baking paper, to approx. 1 cm thickness, and cut out shapes. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes at 200 degrees in a preheated oven.

Pepernoten

1 1/4 cup flour
1 1/4 cup self-rising flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp. water
1 egg yolk
2 teaspoons of speculaaskruiden*
a pinch of salt

Knead all ingredients into a soft ball. Butter two baking sheets. Form about ninety marble-sized balls and place them on the sheets. Flatten each ball slightly. Bake about 20 minutes in a moderate oven (350° F / 180° C), they will be dark brown, very hard and crunchy when cooled.

Bisschopswijn

1 liter red wine
1 lemon
1 orange
20 cloves
2 tbsp. sugar
1 cinnamon stick
a pinch of mace and saffron (optional)

Wash and dry the lemon and orange. Insert 10 cloves into each. Put the wine, sugar, lemon, orange and cinnamon (and the mace and saffron tied in muslin, if you are using them) into a pan. Cover and bring slowy to the boil. Turn down the heat and allow the wine to simmer very gently for approx. 1 hour. Remove the spices and the fruit. Heat the wine again, but do not let it boil. Serve in heat-resistant glasses. Bisschopswijn or mulled wine is a traditional drink on "Sinterklaasavond".

Meringues

3 egg whites
375 grams castor sugar

Preheat the oven at the lowest mark. Clean your mixer and a large bowl with vinegar and paper towels to remove all traces of grease. Beat the egg whites in the clean bowl. When the egg whites are stiff, add two tablespoons of sieved castor sugar. Keep mixing for another minute. Fold the rest of the castor sugar through the mixture. Spoon small mounds of the mixture onto a greased baking tray. Bake the meringues in the preheated oven (still on the lowest mark) for 2 hours. Leave the meringues to cool on a wire rack.



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