Dutch Christmas Cookies (or Kerstkransjes)
This is a recipe for Dutch Christmas Cookies, or Kerstkransjes as they are known in the Netherlands.
I lived in the Netherlands for about 30 years. One of the busiest times of the year was, of course, at Christmas time. This was when my favourite ‘Kerstkransjes’ were sold in Albert Hein and the other shops.
For some reason, these delicious Dutch Christmas Cookies are only sold there around Christmas. But I think they are so good they should really be available all year-round.
So for those of you who cannot live without them, here is a tasty Dutch cookie recipe for ‘Kerstkransjes’ so you can make them yourself at home.
What are Kerstkransjes?
A Kerstkransje in Dutch means a little (je) Christmas (Kerst) wreath (krans). These Dutch biscuits are supposed to look like a Christmas wreath of holly, say, that you would hang on your front door at Christmas time. They are a very typical Dutch Christmas snack.
Traditionally these Xmas biscuits hang in the tree at Christmas time, but beware if you do this as they will go stale quite quickly, so only hang them on the day when you intend to eat them. This is nice for the kids – I bet they do not last very long!
Otherwise, just keep them fresh in an airtight box.
Try and use a flower-shaped cookie cutter like the one shown below to get the proper shape (mine was more clover shaped!)
Typical Sinterklaas Food
If you are in the Netherlands at the end of the year it normally feels a bit like one long party from November through to the New Year.
First of all, you have Sinterklaas with his blacked faced workers (the Zwarte Pieten) who arrive in NL from Spain around the middle of November until the 5th December.
Sinterklaas is obviously another version of Santa Claus, just the tradition is a bit different.
The kids are often given gifts of chocolate letters (where the child gets a chocolate letter denoting the first letter of their Christian name).
The Black Piets (Zwarte Pieten) also have kruidnoten (small ginger cookies) and pepernoten (pepper nuts) for the kids in bags. They love throwing them around so the kids can pick them up off the floor.
It is a bit of a weird tradition but good luck trying to persuade the Dutch that it may be a bit outdated! Most Dutch people find it very important to maintain the tradition for their kids (as I suppose it is obviously a good money spinner).
On the 5th December, presents are handed out between family and friends in the evening when Sinterklaas is celebrated and self-written poems are read out. This tends to be a bigger celebration in many families in NL than Christmas. (Many prefer to celebrate Sinterklaas instead of Christmas.) Otherwise, the kids tend to get spoilt too much!
In my family, we tended to just celebrate at Christmas time to prevent the end of the year from becoming too overwhelming for the kids.
Typical Dutch Christmas Food
Kerstkransjes are not to be confused with a Kerstkrans, which is another Dutch Christmas delicacy of a circular shape.
The Kerstkrans is in fact a flaky puff pastry that contains almond paste (or amandelspijs). They are also available in a straight shape and are known then as a banketstaaf. These are really tasty and well worth trying if you like almonds.
Then around Christmas time, there are other special foods like a Kerststol. This is a type of bread with currents and raisins and is filled again with almond paste. This is certainly another Dutch favourite and they are also delicious. Almonds obviously play a big role at Christmas time in the Netherlands!
At New Year everyone makes their own oliebollen, which are balls of deep-fried dough sprinkled with icing sugar and served warm. Absolutely delicious! I need to get a home-made recipe for these on my site at some point!
I hope you get to try this Dutch cookie recipe yourself. If you do, please let me know how you get on in the comments section below!
How to make Kerstkransjes