This article was first published in TU Delta’s Survival Guide on December 1, 2014
From spiced biscuits to chewy cookies, steaming hot sugary treats to a warm cup of wine, even the Grinch won’t complain about these Dutch holiday treats.
Thin, crunchy and flat, speculaas are biscuits flavoured with spices of the season, such as cinnamon and nutmeg. Usually cut into distinct shapes, from Sinterklaas to animals, they’re available at most bakers and grocery stores. Try Bakerij De Diamanten Ring, at Choorstraat Delft. Around since the 17th century, they’re among the oldest bakers in the city. They have a variety of speculaas on offer, such as a plain speculaas (€3.75) and one with nuts (€4.75). “We also have a special speculaas cake with almonds inside which costs about €7.95,” said Lies Everts, one of the managers.
Pepernotenfabriek.nl declares pepernoten to be as essential for a good Sinterklaas celebration as a steam boat and a bag full of presents. Bite sized confectionary, pepernoten or pepper nuts are spiced with anise, cinnamon and clove. The cookies are so popular that they now hit stores as early as September. A 200gram bag of pepernoten at Jumbo will cost €1.15. At Bakker Jaap, 200 grams costs €2.25.
Often mistaken for pepernoten because of their similar shape and size, kruidnoten is similar to speculaas in taste. You can even buy kruidnoten covered in chocolate, milk, white or even dark chocolate. A bag of 200 – 215 grams costs about €1.90 at Jumbo. Kruidnoten are typically packaged in conical wrapping and most bakeries in town will have them on sale during the season.
Deep fried balls of dough anyone? It may not sound delicious, but oliebollen are a Dutch treat traditionally made on New Year’s Eve. In Delft, an oliebollen stand opens near the Old Church from November 1 to December 31 every year. You can get a regular oliebollen sprinkled with sugar for 80 cents or try one with raisins, apple, rum and raisin or even banana for €2. The special ones are made by sandwiching the stuffing between two regular oliebollen and deep frying them together. “We sell 400 to 500 oliebollen every day,” said John Huybregts, the owner.
Poffertjes, or mini pancakes, are served steaming hot, with melting butter and powdered sugar. They’re the perfect treat on a cold evening. Be sure to try the poffertjes available at stands across the city on Lichtjesavond (the evening of lights on December 9). Sometimes, you can even have them with Nutella, rum and other toppings.
Nothing strikes the right note in winter like a steaming glass of glühwein. This winter drink is made using red wine and spices such as cinnamon, clove and citrus fruits. While you can make it at home, it’s also very affordable to buy. A bottle will cost you around €2 and is easily available at most grocery stores. Most pubs also have glühwein on their menu during the season, including Stadscafé De Waag at Markt. A glass of glühwein here costs €2.75 “Just like hot chocolate, people always seem to want glühwein in winter. It’s a great drink to warm up with,” said Hugo Overvoorde, the manager of De Waag.
Another typical winter dish is erwtensoep or pea soup. A thick broth soup made with peas, small chunks of ham are added on top. During festivals, there are often stalls selling homemade erwtensoep in bowls. Stadskoffyhuis serves a bowl of erwtensoep with bacon, bread and mustard (€4.95). “Ours is a traditional recipe with an East-Indian twist, a hint of curry is used. We serve it from October to March,” said Ferry van Winden, co-owner of the restaurant.