November. The time to spice up love in holiday season. The time to find out the difference between Sinterklaas pepper and spiced nuts, get off that dating app and find your date offline!

When the Dutch Santa comes to town

The Dutch version of Santa Claus has made his appearance. Pepernoten, kruidnoten and speculaas are available in abundance in the stores. What you need to spice up your love life in holiday season, that is with Sinterklaas, is one of these Dutch cookies. Love isn’t guaranteed, but it’s certainly worth a try, don’t you think? Let’s find out what the idea is behind this combination.

The Dutch and their seasonal cookies

It is a lot of fun to find out what the English term is for pepernoten or kruidnoten. Peppernut cookies, tiny Dutch spice biscuits, gingerbread, lebkuchen look-a-like or little Dutch spiced cookies, it doesn’t matter how you call them, they sure taste good. Now apparently the Dutch get a bit offended when you call pepernoten pepernoten when they’re actually kruidnoten.

What is a pepernoot tour Sinterklaas Verita's Visit speciale activiteit familie

The spiciest of nuts at Sinterklaas

The difference between pepernoten and kruidnoten is – roll of drums please- : the shape and the ingredients. According to Fred Voskuijl, conservator in the bakery museum in Hattem, a pepernoot  tastes more like aniseed and is usually differs in shape from other pepernoten. Traditionally it is made by hand. A kruidnoot is the more popular Sinterklaas treat. You could call it the mini version of speculaas. A hard, crispy cookie that has a round,  more uniform shape.

Now is a kruidnoot also more spicey than a pepernoot? In the 17th century, when the Dutch East Indian Company brought all kind of spices to the Netherlands, most of these spices were referred to as ‘pepper’. The company would also ship different kinds of nuts to the Low Countries and when the pepernoot was created, the first thing the people saw in it was a nut.

The kruidnoot is a more modern cookie, invented a few decades ago. Although there is a difference between kruidnoten and pepernoten most Dutch locals use the term pepernoten for both. Besides the more standard version you also find the Dutch mini spiced cookies with different coatings: chocolate, chili, stroopwafel or even gin tonic flavor! Van Delft is the largest factory of pepernoten worldwide and introduces new flavors every year.

Spicy sinterklaas event Verita's Visit holiday season feestdagen uitje

Why we associate pepernoten with the festive season

A Dutch peppernut cookie with the right topping might win some people’s heart, not mine! Why would a tiny spiced cookie be enough if you can get its supersized sibling: speculaas? The best way to spice up your love life in holiday season, Sinterklaas, is with speculaas. Back in the 17th century speculaas was expensive. The main spices for the typical Dutch cookie: cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, kardemom, pepper, coriander, ginger and anisseed had to come all the way from Asia.  Speculaas was a cookie eaten only during special moments: the festive December month was the perfect occasion.

peperkoeken bak workshop sinterklaas Verita's Visit holiday activity uitje feestdagenSpeculaaspop and nuts: Love and fertility

The Sinterklaas celebrations were thé opportunity for a guy to show his love for a girl.   Our young lover would go to the baker and ask him to make a speculaasvrijer. Vrijer means suitor and comes from the Germanic god of love: Freyer. He is the character represented on the speculaas cookie itself. We now call it speculaaspop.

The guy would give the girl this gingerbreadman. She would invite him for dinner. During dinner she would give back the  speculaasvrijer / gingerbreadman . Had she eaten the head, then he could date her. Had she eaten the feet, then he had better to find another sweetheart.

Tip to spice up your love life with Sinterklaas

There’s just one tip to spice up love in holiday season: Go oldschool and try to get a date by offering a gingerbreadman

Baking your own speculaaspop makes it even more special. Invite a group of friends, family or colleagues for a fun outing and go for a pepernoten baking workshop and other festive treats for Sinterklaas and find out the surprising stories behind the celebration and its sweets. Contact me to find out more about this group activity in Holland.


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Vera ter Beest

Make your heart b(l)oom and explore Holland by bike with Verita's Visit Holland.
Born on a bicycle and raised in Delft (NL) I love the Dutch countryside. With Verita's Visit Holland I organise bike tours & team events. I take you on and off the beaten track to meet tulip growers, cheese farmers and lords of castles. My specialisation: Keukenhof area, Cheese farm region and Delft countryside. Just send me an e-mail at veritasvisit(@) to get more info.

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