Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Café and Gift Shop "Café de Kiekoet" Masstricht (NL)

It is always such a joy to find these types of wonderful places by chance. Like the „Café de Kiekoet“ in Maastricht (NL), that we basically stumbled upon when we visited Maastricht a few weeks back. This is an utterly charming café and gift shop, perfect not only for finding a gift for that someone special but also for enjoying a cup of coffee or tea and some waffles on the outside terrace at the back of the store.

The shop owners have a wonderful concept for their lovely store. They carry regional products and gifts from the area of Maastricht (Maastrichte Producten), as well as vintage collectors items (brocante). Personally, I find this particular mix utterly delightful.

The Regular Collection of the store includes must-haves such as handmade Maastricht mustards (Limburgse mosterd) and specialty jams and jellies from Adriaan de Smaakmaker (for more info, please look here), as well as Apostelhoeve wine from a vineyard in Limburg (for more info, please go here) and those famous Maastricht Chocolate Stars (Chocolade sterretjes) in white, milk or dark chocolate.

Then there is the Changing Collection, whith different offerings every couple of months. You could find Maastricht Legos, kitchen-towels, tea-towels, bath-towels, baby onesies, kitchen posters, coffee and tea cups, mugs, notebooks, key chains, all with that famous Maastricht star logo.

And then there is the Vintage Collection, which includes all those lovely things that make a blogger`s heart do somersaults. It varies also depending on the season and whet the owners were able to find at antique sales and flea markets. You might find tea-pots, cups, plates, spice jars, and soup tureens with delicate flowery designs. Or coffeetables, tins, glasses, jewellry and even childrens´ furniture.

The official flag of Maastricht, the capital city of the province of Limburg, in the Netherlands is a red vertical surface with a five-pointed star. So it comes as no surprise that the star of Maastricht (or as the locals call it "Mestreech") is proudly displayed throughout the store on a number of different products and can also be found on the lovely tables that grace the outside terrace - inviting you to enjoy a local apple juice...

...or enjoy a steaming cup of coffee that is served in these or other adorable vintage cups, that are placed on vintage serving platters and accentuated with adorable spoons, all of which you can also buy at the store.

Of course, a coffee break from all that that shopping would not be complete without those delicious crunchy Maastricht butter cookies that are shaped like the Maastricht coat of arms (Mestreechter keukskes or koekjes) produced by the Pâtisserie Royale also located in the city (you can take a look here for more information on these fabulous cookies).

The outside terrace of the Café is very lovingly decorated - you can find a dark green old window frame like this one...

...or the wonderful flower arangements (of course, being the keen observer that you are, you noticed the colors of the flowers, red and white, these are also the colors of the city)...

...more flowers. This delicate white and yellow variety of the potato plant is flowering and was planted in an old enamel bowl...

...a trumpet-playing seraph was hiding in these shrubs.

Look at these adorable coffee and tea pots as well as tea cups monuted on one on the walls.

A well-used bicycle (love it, it is so Dutch) and a goose that seems to contemplate its fate.

A well-used bird bath certainly also adds to the charm of the outside terrace.

Once you have finished your visit to the terrace, it is time to take a look inside - this is a picture of my very favorite display in the whole store - in October of this year you could find dolls like this one wearing a hand-knitted dress, table linens, napkins, gift boxes, milk jugs, cups and saucers, spoons, glasses and much more, all color-coordinated and waiting for you to take them home and to find that perfect spot to display them at.

There were also these powder-blue earrings and satin gloves that graced a soup tureen...

..leather baby booties, enamel soup ladles, candles and gift ribbons of different colors.

Another one of my favorite displays - the vintage cups and the Maastricht cookies again - love the idea of placing them in the earthenware Gugelhupf (Kougelhopf) baking mold.

These paper bags are placed on the outside window sills of the store...

...inviting you to go inside and take a closer look.

Christmas has arrived at the store - when we went back for more pictures this month, these bright red paper bags graced the entrance doorstep.

And this lovely off-white and silver Chritsmas wreath decorated with glass ball ornaments and feathers was mounted on one of the doors. It looked like an invitation to go inside and find some lovely gifts...

...and admire these adorable baby toys and onesies - baby and toddler bodysuits - with the Maastricht star, of course.

A crucifix and a rosary made for a very serene display too.

Those red and white linen kitchen towels (potdook) with the name of the city are a popular souvenir with customers such as myself... are apparently these t-shirts with the inscription "How to date in Meestrecht in the native language".

Mestreechter Geis - these wooden souvenirs are fashioned after a bronze sculpture by the artist Mari Andriessen. The original sculpture was inspired by the character of the people of Masstricht who are said to be charming, humorous and have quite the zest for life. And I can attest to the truth of that statement. In 1962, the bronze sculpture was installed in Maastricht in a prominent place of the Stokstraat.

The star logo and the name of the city also graces these bright red aprons - always such a welcome gift for all those foodies in your life.

Here are those lovely leather baby booties again. And a gift, all wrapped up in that fabulous red and white paper.

These glass bottles used to be part of the inventory of a pharamcy. Now they make for a wonderful display with flowers and all.

This looks like a watercolor of the city and would also make for a fabulous souvenir or gift.

More bright red Meestreech aprons - this time fashionably diplayed next to vintage cake plates, tea pots, doilies and cookie tins.

Limburgse Mergelblökskes, these are small white chocolate bricks that are meant to resemble the flint from the Sint-Pietersberg quarry outside the city. The boxes of chocolates are embellished with photos from the quarry (for more info on this amazing place, go here). Together with the Maastricht cookies (koekjes), some lovely tea bags (thee) and the famous Maastricht chocolate stars (sterretjes), they are part of this Christmas present package. While this was a ready-made gift package, the friendly owners will gladly wrap gifts and souvenirs according to your personal prefences and specifications.

A bright-red wooden Maastricht star which will certainly double as your Christmas decoration this time of year.

You can also buy copies of the Maastricht anthem (Mestreechs Volksleed). The lyrics of what has since 2002 become the official anthem of the city, were written in 1910 by Alphonse Olterdissen to the music composed by his brother Guus Olterdissen. It was originally the final chorus to the comic opera Trijn den Beguine.  

This place is a charming shop with a wonderful concept behind it. Combining the new, regional items with the traditional, vintage items is rather unique and makes this a must-see. No doubt.

Visiting different places and shopping at a variety of stores will provide you with the opportunity to gift the loved ones around you with true treasures - like these vintage Christmas glass ball ornaments that I bought a while back and used as props for my Elise Gingerbread Post (here).

So next time you happen to visit the fabulous city of Maastricht in the Netherlands, do make sure to drop by this incredibly lovely café and giftshop called "De Kiekoet" and, of course, you should not forget to tell the friendly owners that The Kitchen Lioness send you.

Kadowinkel in Maastricht
De Kiekoet
Heggestraat 5
6211 GW, Maastricht
The Netherlands

Phone: +31 43 325 3026

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Elisenlebkuchen - German Elisen Gingerbread

Today I am featuring my most beloved traditional Christmas treat,  the so-called Elisen Gingerbread (Elisen Gingerbread).

Usually, Gingerbread is a baked sweet, containing ginger (hence its name) as well as warming spices such ground cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, cardamom and anise. And it is sweetened with any combination of brown sugar, molasses, light or dark corn syrup, or honey. 
Heute gibt es mal ein Rezept für ein allseits geliebtes Weihnachtsgebäck mit einer langen Tradition, Elisenlebkuchen.

Im Allgemeinen sind Lebkuchen ein Gebäck mit Ingwer und warmen Gewürzen wie frisch gemahlener Zimt, Nelken, Muskatnuss, Kardamom und Anis. Traditionell wird Lebkuchen mit einer Kombination von braunem Zucker, Melasse, Sirup oder Honig gesüßt. 

Gingerbread comes in many different varities, flavors and textures. It can be a dark and dense  cake like a Gingerbread Spice Cake – there is an American version served, sometimes, with a lemon glaze, or just a hint of powdered sugar or the lighter French version of a Gingerbread Cake called "Pain d´ Épices" (spice bread). Gingerbread can also be crafted into in a house-shaped confection made with a variation of gingerbread cookie dough. The Gingerbread House became popular in Germany after the Brothers Grimm published their fairy tale collection which included "Hänsel and Gretel" in the 19th century. Early German settlers brought this Gingerbread House (Lebkuchenhaus) tradition to the Americas.
Lebkuchen gibt es in vielen verschiedenen Formen. Es gibt zum Beispiel die Lebkuchenherzen oder viele andere phantasievoll ausgestochene und dekoriete Lebkuchen. Es gibt aber auch einen dunklen Gewürz-Kuchen, wie man ihn zum Beispiel in Amerika liebt, manchmal mit Zitronenglasur oder nur etwas Puderzucker dekoriert oder das französische Pain d´ Épices (Gewürzbrot). Eine weitere Form der Lebkuchen sind die beliebten Lebkuchenhäuser. Das Lebkuchenhaus wurde in Deutschland populär, nachdem die Brüder Grimm im 19. Jahrhundert ihre Märchensammlung veröffentlichten, worin sich ja auch die Geschichte von „Hänsel und Gretel“ findet. Deutsche Siedler brachten die Tradition Lebkuchenhäuser zu backen schließlich nach Amerika.

Many Germans enjoy gingerbread known as Elisen Gingerbread. The high percentage of at least 25 percent of ground almonds, hazelnuts and/or walnuts is what makes them so moist and utterly delicious.

But tehre are numerous different types of soft traditional German gingerbread. For example, there are the Honey Cakes (Honigkuchen) and the Pepper Cakes (Pfefferkuchen), both names refer to the predominant ingredient in those gingerbread-style baked goods.

The word "Lebkuchen"can be translated as “a cookie or cake representing life”, making reference to the fact that the recipes call for lots of spices with many health benefits. It is interesting to note that the first mention of this word can be traced back to the year 1409.

And then there are the Elisen Gingerbread (Elisenlebkuchen)  which I am featuring today. These are a soft variety of Lebkuchen made since 1880. To this day, it is uncertain whether the name "Elise" refers to the daughter of a gingerbread baker who invented them, a pharmacist who wanted to cure his daughter of a grave disease, or the wife of a margrave who loved spices.
In Deutschland isst man gerne die weichen Nürnberger- oder Elisenlebkuchen. Der hohe Anteil von Mandeln, Hasel- oder Walnüssen von mindestens 25 Prozent macht Elisenlebkuchen so saftig und lecker.

Weiche Lebkuchen gibt es zum Beispiel auch in der Form von Honigkuchen (mit Honig verfeinert) oder von Pfefferkuchen (mit echtem Pfeffer gebacken), beide Bezeichnungen beziehen sich auf die vorherrschende Zutat in diese Lebkuchen-Variationen.

Es wird oft gesagt, dass der Begriff "Lebkuchen" eine Anspielung auf die Tatsache ist, das die Lebensqualität duch den Genuss der vielen gesunden Gewürze, die in dem Gebäck enthalten ist, durchaus verbessert wird. Das Wort "Lebkuchen" findet sich erstmals in einem Nürnberger Zinsbuch von 1409.

Mein Rezept ist für die sogenannten Elisenlebkuchen.  Diese Variante der weichen Lebkuchen wird seit zirka 1880 gebacken. Bis heute ist nicht ganz geklärt, ob der Name „Elise“ sich auf den Namen der Tochter eines Bäckers, Apothekers oder auf den Namen der Frau eines bekannten Markgrafen bezieht.

As with all other Lebkuchen, the ingredients for my Elisen Gingerbread include the warm and wintry spices such cinnamon but also ground nuts and finely diced candied fruit, such as the candied orange and lemon peel. As raising agents and for a softer texture, bakers traditionally use Salt of Hartshorn (Hirschhornsalz) and Potash (Pottasche), but you can also use baking powder (like I did in this recipe).

Lebkuchen dough is usually placed on a thin wafer base called "Oblate" (Backoblaten). In the Middle Ages, monks had the brilliant idea to use unleavened communion wafers to prevent the gingerbread dough from sticking to the baking sheets.
Wie für alle anderen Lebkuchen, braucht man als Zutaten für meine Elisenlebkuchen winterliche Gewürze wie Zimt aber fein gewürfelte kandierte Früchte, wie die kandierten Schalen von Orangen (Orangeat) und Zitronen (Zitronat). Als Backtriebmittel verwenden Bäcker traditionell Hirschhornsalz und Pottasche. Man kann aber auch Backpulver verwenden (wie ich es in diesem Rezept gemacht habe).

Der Lebkuchenteig wird meistens auf Backoblaten gebacken. Auf diese brilliante Idee sind Mönche in Mittelalter gekommen. Sie haben die ungesäuerten Hostien für das Backen von Lebkuchen verwendet, um zu verhindern, dass der Lebkuchenteig auf dem Backblechen festklebte.

Typically, Elisen Gingerbread is glazed with good-quality dark chocolate, but sometimes they are left uncoated or sugar-coated. For decoration, you can use whole almonds, hazelnuts or leave them plain.
In der Regel werden Elisenlebkuchen mit sehr dunkler Schokolade überzogen, mit einem dicklichen Zuckerguss dekoriert, oder man geniesset sie "pur". Für die Dekoration kann man ganze Mandeln oder Haselnüsse nehmen.

Elisen Gingerbread

Ingredients for the Lebkuchen
  • 370 grams (1 ¾ cups) fine baking sugar
  • 250 grams (8 ounces/2 1/4 cups) ground hazelnuts, toasted and skinned
  • 3 eggs (L), organic or free range whenever possible
  • 50 grams (1.7 ounces) finely diced candied lemon peel 
  • 50 grams (1.7 ounces) finely diced candied orange peel 
  • 1 1/2 tsp of Gingerbread Spice Mix
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsps pure vanilla sugar
  • one pinch of fine sea salt
  • 1 tsp. dark rum
  • 1 ½ packets (4 ½ leveled tsp) baking powder
  • 225 grams (1 ¾ cups) AP (plain) flour
  • 200 grams finely grated almond paste (Marzipan)*
  • about 50 round baking wafers**(“Oblaten”) 5 cm (2 inches)
  • * and ** you can find the baking wafers (Oblaten) and the almond paste (Marzipan) at European or German delicatessen or online
Ingredients for the Chocolate Glaze 
  • 200 grams (7 ounces) dark chocolate, broken into chunks
  • optional: whole hazelnuts and other decorations

Zutaten für die Lebkuchen
  • 370 Gramm feinster Zucker
  • 250 Gramm gemahlene Haselnüsse, geröstet und  gehäutet
  • 3 Eier (L), Bio oder Freilandhaltung
  • 50 Gramm “Zitronat”
  • 50 Gramm “Orangeat”
  • 1 1/2 TL Lebkuchengewürz-Mischung
  • 1 TL gemahlener “Ceylon” Zimt
  • 2 TL Bourbon Vanillezucker
  • eine Prise Meersalz
  • 1 TL Rum
  • 4 ½ TL Backpulver
  • 225 Gramm Weizenmehl
  • 200 Gramm fein geriebenes Marzipan*
  • ungefähr 50 runde Oblaten  (5 cm)** 

  • * und ** zu finden in allen gut sortieren Geschäften oder online

Zutaten für die Schokoladenglasur
  • 200 Gramm dunkle Kuvertüre, gehackt 
  • wahlweise: Haselnüsse und/oder Glanzbilder

Preparation of the Lebkuchen
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Line two baking sheets with baking parchment or Silpat mats.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, ground hazelnuts, eggs, diced candied lemon and orange peel,Gingerbread Spice Mix, cinnamon, vanilla sugar, salt, rum, baking powder and flour.
  4. Add the finely grated almond paste and carefully mix together. Your dough should have a thick and somewhat “sticky” consistency.
  5. Either take a piping bag and pipe the dough or spoon it onto the baking wafers, you should a small mound of dough for each cookie (5 centimeters /2 inches). Do not bake more than twelve on one baking sheet, because they do tend to spread a bit while baking.
  6. Bake for about 15 to 20 minutes – the cookies will be set on the outside but have to be still soft and a bit chewy in the middle.
  7. Transfer the baking sheets to a cooling rack and cool for ten minutes. Then transfer the cookies to the racks to cool completely and decorate with dark chocolate and nuts.

Preparation of the Chocolate Glaze
  1. Melt the chocolate over medium heat in a double-boiler or in the microwave.
  2. Place the Lebkuchen on a large rack set over a cookie sheet and pour the warm melted chocolate over the Lebkuchen, wait until chocolate almost sets and then decorate with additional hazelnuts (I always leave some plain and decorate the others with three hazelnuts each).
  3. Wait until the chocolate has completely set and place the Lebkuchen in cookie tins.They will keep for up to three weeks.
Zubereitung der Lebkuchen
  1. Den Backofen auf 175 Grad Celsius vorheizen.
  2. Zwei Backbleche mit Backpapier oder Silpat-Matten auslegen.
  3. In einer großen Schüssel den Zucker, gemahlene Haselnüsse, Eier, Zitronat, Orangeat, Lebkuchengewürz-Mischung, Zimt, Vanillezucker, Salz, Rum, Backpulver und Mehl mischen.
  4. Das fein geriebene Marzipan hinzufügen und sorgfältig vermischen. Der Teig sollte von einer dicklichen und ein wenig "klebrigen“ Konsistenz sein.
  5. Entweder nimmt man einen Spritzbeutel oder streicht die Lebkuchenmasse mit einem Löffel auf die Oblaten. Man sollte versuchen einen kleinen „Hügel“ auf jeder Oblate zu formen. Backen Sie nicht mehr als zwölf auf einem Backblech, weil sie dazu neigen, ein wenig aufzugehen.
  6. Etwa 15 bis 20 Minuten backen – die Lebkuchen sollten am äußeren Rand etwas fest sein aber innen noch weich bleiben.
  7. Die Backbleche zum Abkühlen auf ein Kuchenrost geben und für zehn Minuten abkühlen lassen. 
  8. Wenn die Lebkuchen vollständig abkühlt sind, mit dunkler Schokolade und/oder Nüssen dekorieren.
Zubereitung der Schokoladenglasur
  1. Die Kuvertüre bei mittlerer Hitze in einem Wasserbad oder in der Mikrowelle schmelzen.
  2. Die Lebkuchen auf ein großes Kuchenrost setzen, dieses auf ein mit Backpapier ausgelegtes Backbleck stellen und die geschmolzene Kuvertüre über das Gebäck gießen, warten, bis die Schokolade fast fest ist und dann mit zusätzlichen Haselnüssen (drei Haselnüsse pro Lebkuchen sieht immer gut aus) oder Glanzbildern dekorieren. 
  3. Man sollte warten, bis die Schokolade komplett fest geworden ist bevor man die Lebkuchen in Dosen lagert. Sie halten bis zu drei Wochen lang.

If you cannot find Gingerbread Spice Mix (Lebkuchengewürzmischung) in you stores or online, you can prepare it using the following recipe.

Gingerbread Spice Mix

Ingredients for the Gingerbread Spice Mix
  • 2 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground anise seed
  • 1/2 tsp ground star anise

Preparation of the Spice Mix
  1. Sift the spices through a fine sieve to remove any lumps.
  2. Mix them together thoroughly and store in a spice jar.
  3. Date and label the mix. It is best when used within four months of preparation.
Wenn man keine Lebkuchengewürz-Mischung im gut sortierten Fachhandel findet, kann man sie nach diesem Rezept selber mischen.


Zutaten für die Gewürzmischung
  • 2 EL Zimt, gemahlen
  • 2 TL Nelken, gemahlen
  • 1/2 TL Piment, gemahlen
  • 1/4 TL, Muskat, gerieben
  • 1/2 TL Koriander, gemahlen
  • 1/2 TL Kardamom, gemahlen
  • 1/2 TL Ingwer, gemahlen
  • 1/2 TL Anis, gemahlen
  • 1/2 TL Sternanis, gemahlen

Zubereitung der Gewürz-Mischung
  1. Die Gewürze sieben um Klümpchen zu entfernen.
  2. Zusammen mischen und in ein Gewürzglas füllen. 
  3. Die Mischung datieren. Die optimale Haltbarkeit ist vier Monate.

Elisen Gingerbread is easy to make and a wonderful and traditional Christmas treat.

They make a formidable gift for family and friends. Just fill cellophane bags with seasonal designs to the rim with these and tie with a pretty ribbon.

Elisen Gingerbread keeps well and is best enjoyed with a cup of coffee or tea in the afternoon or even with a glass of mulled wine.
Elisenlebkuchen sind ganz einfach zu machen und ein wunderbares, leckeres und beliebtes Weihnachtsgebäck,

In Klarsichtbeuteln mit Weihnachtsmotiven verpackt und mit einem hübschen Band oder Anhänger versehen, sind sie ein begehrtes Geschenk für Freunde und Bekannte zur Weihnachtszeit.

Man genießt sie stilecht zum Kaffee, Tee aber auch zu Glühwein oder Punsch. 

As a reader of my blog, you might have noticed my soft spot for all traditional foods with a long history. I am equally delighted by vintage props that add to the charm of these traditional recipes, like these old glass ball ornaments and the old cookie plate that I found a few weeks back and could not wait to feature along with today´s traditional Christmas post - to put these kinds of posts together makes my heart sing. And there is more to come.
Als Leser meines Blogs weiß man wahrscheinlich um mein persönliches Faible für traditionelle Rezepte mit einer langen Geschichte. Un dich bin ebenso begeistert über meine altmodischen Dekorationen, die den Charme der traditionellen Rezepte noch unterstreichen. Wie eben diese echten alten Glass-Weihnachtskugeln und der alte Keksteller, die ich vor einigen Wochen gefunden habe und die für diesen Post wie geschaffen sind. Und es gibt bald noch mehr.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Kruidnoten - Dutch Spice Nuts

Dutch Kruidnoten are often confused with Pepernoten. Kruidnoten, which translates to "spice nuts" in English, are crunchy rounded cookies made with the same ingredients as SpeculaasPepernoten which translates as "pepper nuts", on the other hand, are softer, light brown cookies made with flour, sugar, anise, cinnamon, cloves and occasionally some honey.

Both Kruidnoten and Pepernoten are eaten at around the feast of Sinterklaas (Saint Nicolas) at the beginning of December. Sometimes, Kruidnoten are called the "small sisters" of Speculaas. You might know Speculaas, the traditional Dutch Sinterklaas treats as windmill cookies, Biscoff cookies or Speculoos (their Flemish name), Kruidnoten as well as Speculaas are both fragrantly spiced with a Speculaas Spice Mix - including ginger, cinnamon, white pepper, cardamom, cloves and nutmeg, while brown sugar adds a hint of molasses.

The origin of these traditional treats is intricately linked with the history of the Netherlands. The Dutch controlled the spice trade with the East in the 17th century, making the use of spices more accessible to ordinary Dutch people. Spices were still expensive, however, which is why their use was reserved for the holidays. The Sinterklaas tradition sees the strewing of Kruidnoten, Pepernoten, chocolate coins and candy around the room for the children to pick up off the floor on Sinterklaas Eve.

These days, the traditional recipe is still popular, but new variations, such as truffle kruidnoten, chocolate-covered kruidnoten and yoghurt-covered kruidnoten are also available. 

Kruidnoten – Dutch Spice Nuts

Ingredients for the Cookies
(makes about 100 Kruidnoten)
  • 200 grams (1 3/4 cups) self-rising flour 
  • 100 grams (1/2 cup) donkerbruine basterdsuiker* (Dutch dark brown sugar), you can also sub with Demerera sugar or Muscovado sugar (unrefined cane sugar)
  • 2 tsps. pure vanilla sugar
  • 100 grams (7 tbsp) unsalted butter 
  • 2-3 tbsp milk
  • 4 tsp Speculaas Spice Mix (speculaaskruiden)**
  • a pinch of fine sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • finely grated zest of half an organic (untreated) orange
  • 1 egg white (L), lightly beaten with a fork

Preparation of the Cookies
  1. Mix together all the ingredients in a large bowl and knead (you may use a mixer with a dough hook attachment). 
  2. You should be able to shape the dough into a ball without it sticking to your hands. 
  3. Cover the dough ball with plastic wrap and set aside for a good hour.
  4. Preheat the oven to 175 degrees Celsius (350 degrees Fahrenheit).
  5. Line two cookies sheets with baking parchment.
  6. Wet your hands and roll little balls of dough.
  7. Place dough balls on the prepared baking sheet. 
  8. Using your thumb, gently press down on each cookie to flatten slightly. Brush with egg white.
  9. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the cookies puff up and turn golden brown.
  10. Transfer to cooling racks and allow to cool.
Basterdsuiker* is a typical Dutch product. There are three varieties, white, brown and dark brown, called witte basterdsuiker, lichte basterdsuiker and donkerbruine basterdsuiker. The sugar is widely available from Dutch supermarkets and some Dutch groceries on the internet.

You can order ready-made Speculaas Spice Mix (known as Speculaaskruiden) online but you can also make your own spice mix, which really gives you the chance to use the freshest ground spices that you can get your hands on, making for even better tasting cookies, of course.

(Speculaas Spice Mix)

Ingredients for the Speculaas Spice Mix
  • 4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp ground mace
  • 1/3 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/5 tsp ground white pepper (a pinch)
  • 1/5 tsp ground cardamom (a pinch)
  • 1/5 tsp ground coriander seeds (a pinch)
  • 1/5 tsp ground anise seeds (a pinch)
  • 1/5 tsp grated nutmeg (a pinch)
  • TIP: If you only have whole spices at home, you can grind the spices yourself using a coffee grinder, or use a food processor and a fine sieve.

  1. Carefully measure out spices.
  2. Mix all spices well.
  3. Scoop the mix into a spice jar with a tight-fitting lid.
  4. Label the jar.
  5. And use for baking Christmas cookies.
  6. Discard any leftovers after four months and make a new spice mix.

Do try these Speculaas spiced, gingerbread-style, crunchy cookies, a true original Sinterklaas confection. This homemade version is so much better than what you can buy in a shop, especially if you take the time to blend your own spice mix, which is rather easy and really makes these treats special.

By the way, Kruidnoten make a fabulous gift. Simply wrap up in some cellophane, tie with a pretty ribbon and decorate with some pretty handcrafted angels like the ones in the pictures above!