Surely we have all heard of Speculaas, the Belgian spice cookies that we associate with the Christmas season. We seldom hear of their cousin, the Kruidnoten (crude-not-en). I was first introduced to the Kruidnoten by my wife. When she was in high school, she lived in Holland for four years because of her father’s job. There, she first had these little cookies.
The other day we were shopping at Central Market for some ingredients I needed to make a Bûche De Noël. There she pointed out these little round cookies that took her back to Holland, “I had the ones that were covered on cocoa powder!” she shrieked. However, she could not remember their name. With much re-search on her part, she informed me of their name.
Kruidnoten are oftentimes confused with Pepernoot, even by the Dutch themselves. Pepernoot is a softer cookie made with different spices. As mentioned above, Kruidnoten is made with the same spices as Speculaas. The Dutch have long eaten these spice cookies. They throw these cookies by the handful and have children find them, this is a symbol of fertility. They are mainly eaten during the Sinterklaas holiday, that takes place on December 5. The holiday is to honor Saint Nicholas, the patron saint of Amsterdam, children and sailors. Saint Nicholas is basis for which we use to distinguish Santa Claus today.
You can either buy or make your own Speculaas spice blend. I have included a recipe at the end of this post.
Typically, I like to use a machine to combine the ingredients for these cookies. However, when I am about to add the flour, I prefer to mix it just halfway with the machine, and then finish combining the flour by hand with a rubber spatula. This ensures that I am not over mixing.
A scale is highly recommended to accurately make each Kuridnoten even in size. I like to use the grams option for these, since they are so tiny. I do not recommend you to try doing it without a scale. This will help prevent you from having some undercooked and some overcooked. Another approach you can take, is to roll half the dough into a 12 inch cylinder, that has a thickness of 1/4 inch.
While they are irresistibly delicious by themselves, I also like to cover these in a mixture of cocoa powder and powdered sugar. Make sure you use a high quality cocoa powder, such as Callebeaut.
At times I like to cover them in chocolate; I find that a semi-sweet works best. In order to cover them in chocolate, you will have to temper it. I will later explain how to do this in a separate post. For now, let’s stick to the cocoa powder. Keep in mind that this recipe yields 137 Kruidnoten, I suggest giving them to friends as little gifts. You can even portion, shape and then freeze them raw. Make sure to freeze them on a sheet pan, and then transfer them to a freezer bag. They should keep for 3 months in the freezer. Simply take them out and place them on a sheet pan, cover them loosely in plastic wrap, and allow them to defrost in the refrigerator overnight before baking.
Yields: 137 cookies
1 stick butter (4 oz)
2/3 cup granulated sugar
4 tablespoons molasses
1 1/2 tsp speculaas spice blend
2 tsp salt
2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- Pre-heat the oven to 320°F (160° C).
- Cream the butter well, add the sugar and molasses; cream until light and fluffy.
- Add the salt and speculaas spice blend, combine well. Scraping the bowl once well combined
- In a separate bowl, combine the flour and baking powder; add to the above in one step.
- Make sure you stop mixing once the flour in throughly combined, do not overmix!
- Cover the dough tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours,but preferably overnight.
- Using a scale, portion out into 5 gram pieces (1/8 oz). If you do not have a scale, roll half the dough into a 12 inch cylinder, that has a diameter of 1/4 inch and cut out cookies that are 1/4 inch thick.
- Gently and lightly press them down so that they are not round on top.
- Bake for 8 to 10 minutes.
- Allow for them to cool completely, about 30 minutes to 45 minutes.
- Toss and completely cover them in the cocoa powder blend.
8 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
- Sift the cocoa powder and powdered sugar together; combine well.
2 tablespoons + 1/2 teaspoon ground Cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoon ground Cloves
1 teaspoon ground Ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground Cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground White pepper
- Combine all well. Store in an air-tight container.