Traditional Dutch Pepernoten (Peppernuts)
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In November and December Pepernoten enter the stores in the Netherlands. There are two types of Pepernoten, the traditional soft and chewy ones and the crunchy ones which are technically called ‘Kruidnootjes’ (Spice Nuts). I’ve written a post about the difference between Pepernoten and Kruidnoten explaining the difference. Nowadays the crunchy Spice Nuts are called pepernoten and the traditional pepernoten are somewhat forgotten. They’re still available and being sold in the shops but it’s the Kruidnootjes that are most popular. I personally prefer the crunchy Spice Nuts as well, however the traditional Dutch Pepernoten have their charm and I actually prefer them either homemade or from a bakery.
Traditional Dutch Pepernoten Recipe
I actually was a little hesitant to post this recipe because it contains an ingredient of which I’m not sure if it is available everywhere, Dutch pancake syrup. Dutch pancake syrup is different from other syrups. It’s a molasses type syrup I’m not acquainted with a syrup that’s similar so I can’t give any advice on that yet. I did see that Van Gilse pancake syrup is available on Amazon (affiliate link). And for me, it’s the syrup that makes the pepernoten like they should be so I couldn’t leave that out. However since this is the way the pepernoten should be made I decided to publish the recipe anyway. I did hear that Dutch pancake syrup is similar to treacle/molasses so I guess you could try to substitute it with that but I haven’t tried that myself yet so I cannot guarantee the result will be the same.
My recipe is derived from a pepernoten recipe on a Dutch history site. According to the website, the oldest known recipe available is from the 16th century and describes pepernoten as “A type of pastry/cookie made from flour, honey, sugar or syrup, baked mixed, in which pepper and other spices have been added ” (Eene soort van koek, uit meel met honing, suiker of stroop gemengd gebakken, waardoor gestooten peper en andere kruiderijen is gedaan). Hence the name Peppernuts for these chewy treats. Nowadays pepper isn’t explicitly mentioned in the list of ingredients but pepper is used in Speculaas Spice Mix which is used in current recipes.
Let’s Make Traditional Dutch Pepernoten!
You’ll need flour, salt, baking powder, Dutch pancake syrup (affiliate link), Dutch Speculaas Spice Mix, ground aniseed and one egg. (The full list of ingredients including measurements can be found in the recipe card below.)
Start by sifting flour into a bowl.
Together with baking powder.
Sift it, sift it good.
Set aside your sifted flour mix.
In another bowl add honey.
Dutch pancake syrup.
Your Speculaas Spice Mix.
And the all important ground aniseed.
Make sure you mix all the ingredients thoroughly.
Add your flour mixture in with the honey/syrup mixture.
Mix up the ingredients till they start to combine.
When the mixture starts to combine get stuck in and knead it into a dough.
When you’ve got a firm dough form it into a ball.
Wrap the dough in clingfilm and put it in the fridge for about an hour.
Pepernoten 2 Ways
Now that you’ve got the dough ready there are two ways to prepare the pepernoten. The quick and easy way by cutting the dough into squares or the little more elaborate but still easy way to give the pepernoten their distinctive look.
Pepernoten cut into squares
Roll out the dough into a rectangle till it’s about 0.4 inch / 1 cm thick and cut the dough into even squares. Put the squares onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and put the pepernoten into the oven for 10 -15 minutes, till golden brown.
You’ll end up with some nice chuncky peppernuts like this. I tried to go ‘fancy’ with my photography this time and photographed the pepernoten on a white background. In a way they look pretty cool, almost like a stockphoto, but next time I’m just going to photograph them with some color in the photo. This stockphoto look is kinda boring, but it’s all I have so I’ll roll with it 😀
Pepernoten with a classic look
To give the pepernoten their distinctive look, do the following.
Roll the dough into long strips and cut into pieces of 0.3 to 0.6 inches / 1 to 1.5 centimeters. Add some oil to a bowl and coat all the pieces with oil.
Transfer the coated peppernuts to an oven dish lined with parchment paper. Fill it up, nice and tight, just make one layer though. I made a double layer once but didn’t like how the bottom ones turned out, so stick to one layer for the best result. Put into the oven and bake for 20 to 30 mins till golden. Leave to cool. Once cooled you should be able to easily break up the peppernuts into little pieces. Because you’ve coated the dough with oil beforehand, each peppernut should break off easily.
Baking the peppernuts all together like this gives them their distinctive look. I hope you enjoy this recipe for Dutch Pepernoten. If you want to try out the crunchy pepernoten check out my recipe for Kruidnootjes (Tasty Spice Nuts).
|Prep Time||10 minutes|
|Cook Time||15 minutes|
|Passive Time||60 minutes|
- 2 3/4 cup all-purpose flour 350 g
- 5 tsp baking powder 25 g
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup honey 175 g
- 2.5 oz Dutch pancake syrup 75 g
- 1 egg
- 1 tbsp Dutch cookie spice mix / Speculaas Spice Mix
- 1 tsp ground aniseed
- vegetable oil optional - as needed
- Sift flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl and set aside.
- In another bowl mix honey, syrup, egg, Speculaas Spice Mix, aniseed till incorporated.
- Add the flour mixture to the honey/syrup mixture and knead into a firm dough.
- Form a ball of the dough and wrap in clingfilm. Leave to rest in the fridge for approximately 1 hour.
- Preheat the oven to 350 °F / 175 °C. Prepare a baking tray with parchment paper.
- Take the dough out of the fridge and roll it out into a rectangle that's roughly 0.4 inch / 1 cm thick.
- Cut the dough into even squares.
- Place the squares onto your prepared baking tray and bake in the oven for roughly 10-15 minutes. Till golden brown.
- Preheat the oven to 350 °F / 175 °C. Line an oven dish with parchment paper.
- Roll the dough into long strips and cut into pieces of 0.3 to 0.6 inches / 1 to 1.5 centimeters. Add some oil to a bowl and coat all the pieces with oil.
- Transfer the coated peppernuts to an oven dish lined with parchment paper. Fill it up, nice and tight in one layer.
- Put into the oven and bake for 20 to 30 mins till golden.
- Leave to cool. Once cooled you should be able to easily break up the peppernuts into little pieces.
Please note that the cup measurements in this recipe are approximate. I have added cups for those that prefer using cups. The recipe is most accurate using weights measurements.
- Dutch pancake syrup is available on Amazon (affiliate link)
- I have heared that Dutch pancake syrup is similar to treacle/molasses so I guess you could try to substitute it with that but I haven't tried that myself yet so I cannot guarantee the result will be the same.
Our family loves to make my grandmother’s Stroop Waffels. It calls for dark Karo, could that be close to the Dutch syrup?
I haven’t tried it before, but I think you could use it as a substitute in this case. In terms of taste it’s obviously not the same as Dutch syrup.
Sorry, but this is not even close to it! My dad was a baker in Holland and passed the recipe down and is much better
I’m sorry to hear you don’t like the recipe. Would you be willing to share what’s different to your father’s recipe?
This recipe is similar to many Dutch baker recipes I’ve come across. That said, these are for traditional pepernoten, not for kruidnootjes, which are very different and are also called pepernoten sometimes. This is a link to Kruidnootjes: https://cakieshq.com/recipe/tasty-spice-nuts/
Indeed, the first thing that comes to mind Patty, if you say your dad’s were very different, is that maybe you are talking about kruidnootjes, not true pepernoten? As Rachel mentions, most people these days call them all pepernoten.
The clue is their appearance and texture. Kruidnootjes are crunchy, small domed discs. Pepernoten are chewy large, tall and have flat sides from being baked together.
That said, Rachel, I have always seen recipes using rye flour. Given the long history of rye flour in the Netherlands, this makes sense. Did you consider rye flour or did none of your source recipes use it?
Rye flour would work as well, there are recipes that use part rye flour as well.
My name is Tracy and I’ve been looking for a recipe for cookies called Pepernuts that I remember from when I was a child. My neighbor used to make them .Your post is intriguing and I was wondering if you would share your recipe.
Would you share your Dad’s recipe?