While we in the US are busy preparing for Thanksgiving my fellow Dutchies in the Netherlands are also preparing for a national holiday: Sinterklaas’ Birthday. Sinterklaas is a very old man, a very very old man. I mean like, hundreds of years old! Sinterklaas has a long white beard, wears a red robe and has a large golden walking stick. He also rides a white horse called ‘Amerigo’ and Amerigo likes to eat carrots. Every year at the end of November Sinterklaas arrives by boat in the Netherlands from Spain, where he lives. On board are also his hundreds of helpers, they are called Zwarte Piet (‘Black Pete’). Each Piet has his own task, like navigation, baking pepernoten, carrying around the Big Book of Sinterklaas or wrapping the gifts for all the children in the Netherlands.
Yay! Gifts and presents for all children in the Netherlands! You see, Sinterklaas celebrates his birthday on the 5th of December by leaving big burlap sacks filled with presents on every doorstep because Sinterklaas is a very generous elderly man.
And if you are lucky your mom and dad let you leave your shoe at the fireplace before going to bed. You leave a carrot, some water and hay for Amerigo next to it and you put a wish list and a drawing for Sinterklaas in your shoe. You sing a song and hope for the best.
At night Zwarte Piet will climb down the chimney to pick up the carrot, hay, wish lists and drawings and he will exchange that for pepernoten, chocolate letters and sometimes small presents.
You see, because Zwarte Piet climbs down those dirty, soot-filled chimneys he has a black face. And what used to be an innocent holiday for children recently turned into an unpleasant discussion about racism and slavery.
To me, Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet still is an innocent holiday because to me it was always clear that his face turned black because of the chimney. And he is there to help this old man, handing out presents because Sinterklaas simply can’t do it all by himself.
But I’m not here to discuss rasicm with you. I’m here to give you this recipe for these delicious tiny cookies. Well actually they are called ‘kruidnoten’ but at home we would always call them ‘pepernoten’ so I’m keep using that name here ;-)*
They are so so so delicious! They’re bite-sized what makes them a perfect afternoon snack. I’ve already given them out to my American friends and they liked them!
So I’m sure you will like them too, you’re welcome 😉
Yum, these Pepernoten are tiny spiced cookies. Perfect for the holidays because of the ginger, cinnamon and cardamom!
- 1 ¾ cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 Tbsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp ground cloves
- ½ tsp cardamom
- ¼ tsp ground ginger
- pinch of salt
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 6 Tbsp butter, melted
- 6 Tbsp (soy) milk
- Sift the flour with the baking powder and the spices into a bowl.
- Add the salt and sugar and mix until combined.
- Mix the melted butter with the milk and add this to the dry ingredients.
- Mix until the dough is soft and a little bit sticky.
- Preheat the oven to 340° F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Roll the dough into tiny little balls of about 0.5”, there is enough to fill two baking sheets.
- Place the balls on the baking sheet and give them a soft push. Bake the pepernoten for about 18-20 minutes in the preheated oven until done.
- Let them cool before eating them.
You can also buy them covered in chocolate, so why not do that? 😉
Click here to read more about Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet on Wikipedia.
* ‘pepernoten’ are traditionally soft, squared and flavored with aniseed and honey, while ‘kruidnoten’ are round and flavored with ginger, cinnamon and cardamom.