Kruidnoten are a traditional spiced, bite-sized cookie that is eaten around ‘Sinterklaas’ in the Netherlands. Sinterklaas is based on Saint Nicholas, who was the patron saint of children. Sinterklaas is the feast that celebrates Saint Nicholas’ name day on the 6th of December. It is often celebrated by giving presents and sweet treats to children on the 5th of December, Saint Nicholas Eve.
While ‘Sinterklaas’ is celebrated in other countries as well, Kruidnoten are typically Dutch and have almost become an integral part of the festivities. The last couple of years, more and more varieties on the traditional cookie are hitting the stores. The most exotic combinations can be found. If you happen to get the chance, check out Van Delft Pepernotenfabriek, they have several stores now across the Netherlands. But be warned, they have so many great and unique flavor combinations (and they let you taste test them), your self control will be put under a lot of pressure there. I tried a few and managed to leave with ‘only’ three bags… Limoncello, Sweet Chili and Seroendeng (Seroendeng is used in Indonesian cooking and is a mixture of seasoned and roasted coconut with peanuts).
The problem with Kruidnoten is: they’re highly addictive. Once you start eating them, you can’t stop. Their size might have something to do with it, but the warming spices and certainly the sugar make you crave more and more. Which make them a dangerous treat if you are trying to cut back on sugar and sweets in general.
I really can’t stop at just a few of those tiny cookies. Once I start on a bag, it gets emptied in no time. Now I don’t want to cut them out of my life, I still buy and obviously eat them, but I also want a healthier alternative to get me through the season. You know… balance ;-).
So I hit the kitchen last Sunday (as it was perfect baking weather, i.e. it was cold and raining) and tried out a few recipes. Everyone of the testers (a.k.a. husband and kids) loved the taste, but when it came to the softness or crispiness their preferences varied ‘slightly’. The first batch, I baked for 20 minutes, which resulted in quite soft and chewy Kruidnoten. The second batch for about 30 minutes, which made them crispier on the outside, still slightly chewy on the inside. The last batch, I baked for 45 minutes, which resulted in crispier and dryer Kruidnoten.
Personally, I prefer the crispier, dryer kind. The boys preferred the soft type and the husband found himself somewhere in the middle. So if you try this recipe, play around with the baking times to see which one you prefer. If you expect the same cookie as the real Kruidnoten, you will most likely be very disappointed. Due to the used ingredients, the taste is different and the texture will be far from that ultra crisp crunch you get from traditional Kruidnoten. But if you let go of that idea, you will get a lovely spiced cookie in return.
50 g almond flour
200 g oat flour (ground up oats)*
1 tsp Xanthan gum
100 g Xylitol
1,5 tsp cream of tartar
1,5 tbsp ‘speculaas’ spices**
100 g coconut oil
75 ml cashew milk***
Optional: (sugar/dairy free) chocolate for coating
*Use certified gluten free if necessary.
**You can use pumpkin spice, which contains similar ingredients.
***Instead of cashew milk, you can use coconut milk or almond milk.
Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl.
Heat up the oil and milk together until the coconut oil is melted. Mix well. Add the egg and whisk well.
Add wet ingredients into the dry and mix with a rubber spatula to form a dough.
Let chill in the refrigerator for about 10 – 15 minutes.
While the dough is chilling, preheat your oven to 180°C and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Then take the dough out of the refrigerator and roll small balls. The tinier you make them, the crispier they will get. If you love a more chewy cookie, make them somewhat larger. Place on the prepared baking sheet.
Baking times vary depending on size and on how chewy or crispy you want them. Also, they might feel too soft when you take them out of the oven, but they will firm up quite a bit when they cool. Maybe start by baking just a few for testing. Once you’re satisfied with the result, bake all of them.
Once they’re cooled, you can eat them plain or cover them in (sugar free/dairy free) white and dark chocolate.
Totally optional, but highly recommended 🙂