The wet and wintry weather certainly is upon us here in Amsterdam. But with the start of December comes a welcome Dutch festival: Sinterklaas. A tradition that the Dutch prize very highly, Sinterklaas is a figure similar to Santa Claus – a friendly, grey bearded man carrying gifts for those children that have been good that year. Rather than hailing from the North Pole, however, Sinterklaas arrives by boat from Spain, riding a grey horse and accompanied by his Zwarte Piet helpers. Excited children eagerly await his arrival and families organise celebratory meals and activities, including homemade gifts and poems written about each other’s bad habits.
Of course, along with the festivities comes a great deal of delicious delicacies. For all of us non-Dutchies, this is the best part (you may remember our chocolate letters from last year). Spices including cinnamon, cloves and ginger play a large role, filling cakes and sweets that are hidden in children’s shoes by Sinterklaas.
Two of the most popular and traditional treats are also thrown to the children by Sinterklaas as he grandly arrives on his ship. Both are small, spiced biscuits that are commonly referred to as ‘Pepernoten’ (Pepper Nuts) rather than their cousins, ‘Kruidnoten’ (Spiced Nuts.) We realised that even some Dutchies didn’t know the difference between the two so we decided to settle it once and for all with our festive gift…
In true Sinterklaas style, the team set about writing poems to describe the biscuits on the labels of the jars. The angular, plainer Pepernoten reads as:
Larger, odd shaped, aniseed
cinnamon or ginger types,
Pepernoten are the Traditional
Whilst the smaller and crunchier Kruidnoten read:
Small and round, often truffle,
milk or dark chocolate drowned
it’s Kruidnoten that get
Written in designer Gali’s handwriting and printed onto handmade Japanese Hanako printed paper, the labels wrapped around the jars and were finished with an embossed gold seal for a final festive feel. We made three different combinations – aniseed, ginger and cinnamon varieties – each distinguished by their coloured ampersand on the top of the label.
Assembled in the kitchen by a speedy production line, we had the treats beautifully packaged and ready to be sent out to clients in no time. Of course we also ate our fair share of the moreish biscuits and many other Sinterklaas treats!