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Gingerbread with Almond Paste (Gevulde Speculaas)

If you aren’t Dutch, you probably have never come across this type of biscuit/cake – unless you’ve been to Christmas markets somewhere and decided to pay £6 for a slice.

 

If you have, then you will know how absolutely delicious this is, especially if you love almonds. If not, you’ll just have to take my word for it. Imagine a layer of moist almond filling, sandwiched between two layers of lovely spicy gingerbread. If you don’t like almonds or gingerbread, don’t read on.

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Pepernoten (Dutch Gingernuts) Recipe

Pepernoten (also called kruidnoten) are something that everyone in the Netherlands grows up with. These little brown biscuits are a key feature of our major December holiday, ‘Sinterklaas’. Sinterklaas (or Sint Nicolaas) is our Santa or Father Christmas: he brings presents, wears red, is beloved by children.

 

Unlike Santa though, Sinterklaas rides a horse, is dressed like a Bishop, lives in Spain (although his nationality is Turkish) and leaves the chimneys to his army of helpers in blackface… So not quite the same.

 

These biscuits, though, only appear in stores around the time Sinterklaas is due to make his way over to the Netherlands, and are associated with the holiday as the treat children are given by Sinterklaas and his helpers.

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Dutch Gingerbread Spice (Speculaaskruiden) Recipe

Dutch gingerbread is not like other gingerbread. Sure, gingerbread exists in many, many countries around the world. The Dutch (probably) did not invent it. However, no other gingerbread tastes like Dutch gingerbread, or ‘Speculaas’ does. It has a distinctively different flavour, and is actually much less heavy on the ginger. I’ve met many gingerbread haters who loved Dutch gingerbread, simply because it isn’t that ‘gingery’.

 

Speculaas (Dutch gingerbread) is made with a complex spice mixture that contains many interesting spices that other gingerbread recipes don’t – for example, white pepper, and ground anise seed. We call this spice mixture ‘Speculaaskruiden’, and it’s available pre-mixed in supermarkets, and generally stored away somewhere in a Dutch person’s spice cupboard.

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