Fourier Analysis is a mathematical tool which can do a number of things: separate out signals from noise; help identify patterns or trends in data; filter out all unwanted data and focus on a single signal; use approximations to make generalizations; make approximations of real world signals (think electronic music); combine harmonics to get a stronger signal. That's what I'll be trying to do here!! Won't you join me with your comments?

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Who is Coming to Your House? (Part VII)

Hij komt, hij komt, de lieve goede Sint...

This is the last in my series about the tradition surrounding SinterKlaas here in the Netherlands. For more information, please look for my posts under the same title over the past month: Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V and Part VI.

Tomorrow is the big day here, and preparations are well underway in most places. At school they have already had visits by the Piets, many of whom left a big mess behind. One of the things that some classes get to do, if their school has access to an oven, is to make their own "kruidenoten". Kruidnoten are a sweeter, harder version of the pepernoten and I actually find them tastier. Kruidnoten are crispier like Spekulaas or ginger snaps, whereas pepernoten are more like gingerbread. Pepernoten have a more bread-like texture and are more complicated to make. This is an easy, fun recipe for Kruidnoten and I have used it when I helped out many classes through the years. So if you are curious, or just want a fun activity for the kids, I have translated it to ingredients more familiar to the US:

50 grams (1 3/4 oz) butter
100 grams (1/2 cup) brown sugar
100 grams (1/2 cup) white sugar
1 Tablespoon milk
250 grams (1 cup) self-rising flour
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground cinamon
1 teaspoon ground aniseed
1 teaspoon ground ginger
Mix all these spices together until well blended before adding to the rest of the mix.
NOTE: If you have access to commercially mixed "Speculaas kruiden" (spices) then you could use 2 3/4 teaspoons of that instead of the individual spices listed. Allspice can be substituded for ground cloves/aniseed/ginger.

1. Cream the butter and sugar together, then add the spice mix (or spices).
2. Add the flour and milk, mix together until well blended. Sometimes, this means you need to get in there with your hands!!
3. Make very very small marble sized balls of dough and place them on a flat baking sheet with enough room to allow them to spread out and rise a little.
4. Bake for 10-15 minutes at 160 C (320 F) until golden.
5. Let cool until they harden. Eat and enjoy!!

Now I admit to having a weakness for kruidnoten. And especially as they are on sale very cheap after 5.December, I have a tendency to go overboard. Thus I often find myself around Christmas with more than I can eat and the days of throwing at children have already passed. Thus it was great fortune for me to find this recipe that goes well for SinterKlaas, but is also perfect for Christmas get-togethers.

I usually double this recipe as it goes very quickly! But you may want to try it first and some portions may need adjusting depending on the ingredients.
250 g (8-10 ounces) kruidnootjes (Instead you can use ginger snaps, German spekulatius, Swedish "pepper-cookies" or similarly spiced hard cookies spiced with cinammon, ginger, nutmeg or allspice.)
100ml (1/2 cup) strong espresso coffee -cooled
3 egg yolks
100g (1/2 cup) sugar
1 packet vanilla sugar (1 tsp vanilla extract)
250 g ( 8oz) ) mascarpone cheese (This may be difficult to find in some areas and may also be rather expensive so one of the following substitutions can be made: 1. 8 oz of softened cream cheese combined with 1/4 cup whipping cream, whipped until smooth or 2. ricotta or cottage cheese combined with 3 tablespoons sour cream, and 2 tablespoons sweet cream, whipped until smooth.)

Beat together yolks, vanilla and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until thick and pale, about 2 minutes. Beat in mascarpone until just combined. Lightly butter a large flat-bottomed glass serving or baking dish and line the bottom with about half of the kruidnoten. Pour half of the espresso coffee and let it soak into the cookies. Add about half of the mixture, spread evenly over the cookies. Distribute the remaining kruidnoten over the mix and pour the remaining coffee over the cookies. Add the rest of the mix, spreading evenly until all the cookies are covered. Cover the dish with cling-film and let it sit in the refrigerator for 3-4 hours. Before serving, I like to sprinkle cocoa powder over the top.

Now while I love-love-love the original Italian tiramisu, I find this as an acceptable substitute during the holiday season!!


soccer mom in denial said...

I may just try this. My 3-year-old is a very patient baker (unlike her 7 year old brothers).

Thanks for "translating" the amounts. Once again, YOU ROCK!!

Jenn in Holland said...

Hey thanks for linking my photo! I linked folks back to you as the ultimate source of all things sinterklaas!
Fijne Feestdag!

anno said...

These sound fabulous -- lucky SinterKlaas! I might be trying these this weekend!

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

This is what I get for not reading for a few days... wow! You've been writing up a storm. And I'm psyched to read it, but probably tomorrow. I'm having a heck of a week. Happy Sinter Klaas daj or whatever it's called?

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

Both recipes look delicious and I hope today is lovely for DD1 and DD2! And you, of course!

Gunfighter said...

When I was stationed in Germany, the nice family whose basement apartment I rented out, always fussed over me for St. Nicholas (Niklaus in Germany), because it's the same day as my birthday.

I wonder how they are these days?

Wholly Burble said...

Great, new recipes to try out! Thank you for this entire series. I've had such fun reading it. And now I get to try out some new dishes. Again, thanks for putting your effort and talents into these blog entries.

Goofball said...

A very big virtual hug!!!! Take care