Pepernoten – Spiced Christmas Biscuits

When you think of Christmas, what tastes come to mind? Sweet peppermint candy canes placed on the tree? Or do you imagine the taste of a sweet and spicy taste of mulled wine as you explore a Christmas market? Maybe you think of something a little more savoury, like a plate full of pigs in blankets. To me, nothing tastes quite like Christmas in a mouthful as a pepernoten biscuit. Pepernoten, also known as ‘peppernuts’ are delicious soft spiced Dutch Christmas biscuits usually made for Sinterklaas (St Nicholas’ Day). Sinterklaas is celebrated in the Netherlands and Belgium on the 5th and 6th of December.

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I first made these biscuits last year rather than making gingerbread men and was delighted with how they turned out. Unlike other spiced biscuits, pepernoten are fairly hard on the outside but deliciously soft to bite into. I quite like experimenting and trying things that are not quite in my wheelhouse, this is where Pinterest comes in handy. I discovered pepernoten whilst scrolling through Christmas inspo on Pinterest and knew I had to try to make my own.

These biscuits are super easy and quick to make. Speculaas spice isn’t readily available in the UK but straightforward to make with spices found in most local supermarkets. I tend to make a large bag of speculaas spice mix and just use what is needed rather than measuring out spices each time. A wee word of warning to you all though. Don’t forget that you’ve made a bulk mix and pour the whole thirty-odd gram mix in with your dough. The biscuits will turn out… spicy.

This recipe will make approximately 30 biscuits depending on the size you make each ball before baking.

Without further waffling, here is my pepernoten recipe.

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Roll mixture into small uniform balls.

Recipe

Prep: 25 minutes, Cook time: 15 minutes, Yield: 30 biscuits.

Ingredients:

Speculaas Spice Mix –                                                

  • 16g ground cinnamon 
  • 6g ground nutmeg
  • 6g ground cloves
  • 2g White Pepper
  • 3g ground ginger
  • 3g ground aniseed*
*I don’t tend to include the aniseed in my spice mix but I’ve included it in the recipe for the sake of being an authentic Speculaas mix.

Biscuit Ingredients –

  • 250g self-raising flour
  • 125g soft brown sugar
  • 4-5 tsp speculaas spice mix
  • Pinch of salt
  • 100g butter (room temperature)
  • 50ml milk

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180C. Line baking tray with parchment, or use silicone non-stick sheet.
  2. In a large bowl, beat butter until light and fluffy. Mix in flour, sugar, spice, salt & milk.
  3. Knead mixture until combined.
  4. Roll into small balls, approx one inch wide. Leave space between.
  5. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

These little bites of Christmas are perfect to nibble on when you find yourself surrounded by bows when wrapping gifts or as you lay comatose on Christmas afternoon watching Elf for the 100th time. I will be making another batch for Jack and my yearly tradition of seeing It’s A Wonderful Life at the Glasgow Film Theatre.

What food do you associate with Christmas? Or is there anything you enjoy making that I should try? Let me know!  

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Until next time,

Ashleigh x

 

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