Introduction: PepperNuts - Dutch Spiced Treats
Two to three weeks of the year we Dutch eat a lot of these peppernuts, or pepernoten, during the Saint Nick festivities. Supermarkets however sell them for over 2 months a year. These small treats fit the time of the year quite nicely, being the end of November and beginning of December. You'll know why when you take a look at the ingredients of the spice mix in the next step.
Peppernuts are small spiced crunchy cookies the size of a nut or button. They are real easy to make, so within the hour you should have a batch ready for eating. The hardest part of this recipe is waiting for the peppernuts to cool down to get crunchy. Take a look and if you made them let me know what you though of them.
One last important thing. These things seem to disappear by itself, they are gone in a minute. So if you have some guests over, just make this recipe a couple of times until you have 1000 peppernuts. And while you're at is, vote for me in the 1000th contest.
Step 1: 'Speculaas' Spice Mix
One of my favorite spice mixes, a traditional mix from the Netherlands excellent for the colder days in autumn and winter. It's a nice mix which engulfs you in rich and warm flavors which is not hard to understand with ingredients such as cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. Here you can buy it in every supermarket, but when you can't do that it's easily made yourself.
I'll share my mix with some optional ingredients for you to try as well. Bare with me that this is the mix I use (including some optional ingredients depending on my mood). But if you would look to different recipes on the internet most times the first 4 ingredients are exactly like mine. (The mix as stated here is more then you need for the peppernuts.)
- 8 tsp cinnamon
- 2 tsp nutmeg
- 2 tsp cloves
- 1 tsp ginger
- 2/3 tsp cardamom
- 2/3 tsp coriander seeds
- 1/3 tsp white pepper (provides a small punch/spiciness)
- 1 tsp anise
- 1/2 tsp mace
- 2/3 tsp allspice
All ingredients should be ground down to a powder.
Step 2: Ingredients
- 250 grams flour
- 8 grams baking powder
- 125 brown sugar
- 6 grams (4 tsp) 'speculaas' spice mix
- pinch salt
- 100 gr cold hard butter
- 90 ml (6 tbsp ) milk
Alternatives to baking powder:
Here in the Netherlands the standard for baking is using flour in combination with baking powder. If you don't know where to get it or you prefer to use baking soda feel free to try some stuff out. Thinking of this recipe and its taste, I would suggest to change some of the brown sugar for honey to activate the baking soda (I think honey works better then brown sugar for activation of the baking soda). You can off course change the milk for buttermilk, but I think the honey suits the recipe better.
Step 3: Make the Dough
- Combine and mix all dry ingredients.
- Add butter and milk.
- Mix all ingredients by hand until you have a nice firm dough. (I started with a hand mixer, but quickly changed to hand mixing, which I think works way better.)
- The dough can be a bit 'moist' but may not stick to your hand. If it does at a small amount of flour.
The dough doesn't have to cool down in the fridge, so you can directly continue with the next step.
Do yourself a favor and eat some of the dough now, before you go to the next step and bake it, you'll thank me for it later. I'm actually still in doubt whether to make this an official step in this recipe.
Step 4: Make the Nuts
- Make approximately 100 small 'nuts' from the dough. You can make 96 'nuts' easily as follows:
- Turn the dough in 12 large balls.
- Make 8 small balls out of each large ball.
That's it. You can now enjoy you're freshly baked peppernuts. Store bought peppernuts are even smaller compared to these, so if you like to enjoy more of these lovely little spiced cookies, just make 150 of them instead off the 100 as suggested above.
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