I always feel a little silly when I try to translate the name of a classic Dutch creation like kruidnoten. I quite like the term 'ginger nuts', but it doesn't quite conjure up the heady blend of spices used in these cookies nor the simple charm of the original Sinterklaas confection. Name aside, do try these gingerbread-style cookies. My homemade version is so much better than what you can buy in a shop - especially if you're bold enough to blend your own spice mix, which is ridiculously easy and really makes it your own.
- 1 3/4 cups self-rising flour (200 g)
- 1/2 cup donkerbruine basterdsuiker (see Tips) or pure cane sugar (demerera) (100 g)
- 7 tbsp butter (100 g)
- 2-3 tbsp milk
- 4 tsp speculaaskruiden (or pumpkin pie spice)
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- The finely grated zest of half an orange
- 1 egg white, beaten
Mix together all the ingredients in a large bowl and knead (you may use a mixer with a dough hook attachment). You should be able to shape the dough into a ball without it sticking to your hands. Cover the dough ball with plastic wrap and set aside for an hour. This allows the spices to work their magic.
Preheat the oven to 347 degrees Fahrenheit (175 degrees Celsius). Grease a cookie sheet.
Wet your hands and roll little marble-sized balls of dough (of approx. 1/2 inch/12 mm). Place dough balls on the cookie sheet. Using your thumb, gently press down on each cookie to flatten slightly. Brush with egg white. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the cookies puff up and turn a slightly darker shade of brown. Allow to cool.
Makes about 100 kruidnoten.
Basterdsuiker is a typical Dutch product. It is manufactured by adding invert sugar and other ingredients to fine white refined sugar. This mixture helps to achieve certain textural structures and keeps baked goods moist. There are three varieties, white, brown and dark brown, called witte basterdsuiker, (licht)bruine basterdsuiker or gele basterdsuiker and donkerbruine basterdsuiker. It is widely available from Dutch supermarkets and some
Dutch groceries on the internet. I've had good results substituting the donkerbruine basterdsuiker in this recipe with pure cane sugar (demerera).
You can order little sachets of speculaas spices (known as speculaaskruiden) online. But you can easily substitute pumpkin pie spices. You can also make your own speculaaskruiden, which really allows you to tailor things to your tastes - a little more cinnamon, or a little less cardamom - whatever you fancy.
Kruidnoten make a great gift. Simply wrap up in some cellophane and tie with a ribbon.
For chocoholics: dip the (cooled) kruidnoten in some melted chocolate and allow to harden on parchment paper.