Sinterklaas (the Dutch version of Santa Claus) has arrived from Spain with his steamer full of presents and sweets. All the traditional Sinterklaas treats have been on sale in bakeries and supermarkets for weeks. One of the old fashioned cookies is the pepernoot. It is a chunky, soft and chewy miniature cookie with a pleasant aniseed taste. The pepernoot has been upstaged by its cousin that used to be called a ‘kruidnoot’ but is now known as a pepernoot too. Kruidnoten can be found everywhere in bakeries and supermarkets and are made with all kinds of different tastes and coatings now. The traditional pepernoot is more difficult to find. I was asked for a recipe for a traditional pepernoot and after some research and a few test bakes I finally was happy with this recipe. The dough is a mix of ordinary flour, rye flower, spices, honey and syrup. Always use a lot of aniseed. It should be the taste that stands out when you pop a few of these chewy chunks in your mouth!
Traditional Dutch pepernoot cookie
For about 100 pieces
200 grams (1¾ cups) wheat flour
175 grams (1⅔ cups) rye flour
½ tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp ground cloves
2 tablespoons anise powder
100 grams (⅓ cup) honey (or use extra molasses or agave syrup)
125 grams (⅓ cup + 1 tbs) of light molasses
100 ml (⅖ cup) hot water
50 ml (⅕ cup) buttermilk or use 45 ml of plant based milk and 1 tsp lemon juice
Mix the flour with the rye flour, baking powder, a pinch of salt and spices in a bowl.
Mix the honey, the molasses and the hot water well.
Add the syrup mixture and half the buttermilk to the flour mixture and knead into a firm, slightly sticky dough. Add some more buttermilk if the dough is too dry.
Roll the dough between two pieces of baking paper into a square of about 1 cm / ½ inch thick and wrap in cling film. Leave to rest in the fridge for 1 hour, but preferably 1 night to let the flavor develop.
Preheat the oven to 200°C / 375°F. Cut the dough into small squares approximately ½ x ½ cm / ⅕ x ⅕ inches. Spread them out on a baking tray lined with baking paper and bake in the middle of the oven for 10-15 min.
This post is also available in: Dutch