Homemade pepernoten 2 ways, traditional and with orange taste

December 1st 2014

Finally the time has come to publish this recipe! And luckily because this small and round spicy cookies are normally brought by Santa Claus and his faithful and numerous helpers on the 5th of December, together with presents for adults and kids. Hopefully you are still on time to try this recipe out, especially if you are not living in the Netherlands and the celebration is on the 25th of December, as in Italy. Anyway, the pepernoten (or “spicy nuts”, freely translated) are not only very tasty but also very easy to make. The only operation that requires a bit of effort is making the little balls to place on the oven tray. But small balls are good for small hands :-), so if you have children above the 4 years they can definitely be involved!

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What makes these cookies so special is the spice mix typically dutch: the “speculaaskruiden”, a mix of eastern spices which brings us back to 1600, when Holland, thanks to the East India Company, was having the monopoly of the spice market in Europe. In the Netherlands you can by them already “assembled”, even if it could be difficult to find them around Christmas due to the great request. Anyway, I wanted per se to make everything from scratch: I bought the spices as a whole, I pulverized them in a coffee grinder, then I assembled them carefully, as some of you might have already read here. In this way I could add my personal touch and assure the preservation of the taste to its maximum, which is also always VERY important :-).
In this post I propose two recipes, both inspired to the vegan pepernoten version proposed by Francesca on her foodblog. The first one is vegan, the second is not, but both have been slightly changed (of course!) according to my personal taste and ingredient preferences to make it even more “healthy”. At least this is the aim. So: I added turmeric and black pepper to the spice mix to give it an anti-inflammatory effect, I used olive oil and flaxseeds oil instead of coconut oil and… in the second recipe, I added orange zest and chocolate (maybe I like them… what do you think??)
By using almond flower and organic coconut sugar, these cookies are not only gluten free but have also a low glycemic impact (almond IG 15, coconut sugar IG 35), next to lots of nutrients and good fats. They still have a high caloric density and coconut sugar, even if it is absorbed slowly by our body, still remains sugar, so we should not indulge too much. Anyway, they surely are a healthy alternative to any cookies you might buy, or make at home if you use ingredients like sugar (even brown) and refined flower.
RECIPE 1: pepernoten classic and vegan

Ingredients:

200g almond flour
75g organic coconut sugar
½ spoon organic baking powder (made with acidified cream of tartar)
1 pinch organic salt
1 spoon “speculaaskruiden” as explained below*
40 ml olive oil with a delicate taste (better cold pressed)
10 ml flaxseeds oil
3 spoon vegetal milk (my favourite is almond milk)

*I used recept 2 explained in this post, anyway I repeat here the ingredients and the respective proportions: cinnamon (8/8), cloves (1/8), nutmeg (1/8), black pepper (0,5/8), ginger (2/8), cardamom (1/8), coriander (1/8), star anise (1/8), nutmeg flower (2/8), turmeric(1/8) – 8/8 corresponds to 1 thee spoon of the measuring spoon set.

Procedure:
.mix all the dry ingredients and make sure to sieve the baking powder good
.add the 2 types of oil, the vegetal milk and mix until you obtain a soft mixture
.cover the over tray with parchment paper
.make some very small balls (approx. 3-4 grams each) and place them on the baking paper not too close to each other (they will expand in the oven)

02_pepernoten
.bake at160 degrees for 12-15 minutes
.let it cool down and preserve in an airtight glass jar so they will not dry in contact with the air

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RECIPE 2: pepernoten with orange flavour

In this non-vegan version of the recipe, I decided to use chestnut flour. It means that the glicemix index is medium-low (almond IG 15, chestnut flour IG 65). The cookies remained a bit more cruncy and the color slightly less dark.

Ingredients for the cookies:
150g almond flour
50g chestnuts flour
90g organic coconut sugar
½ spoon organic baking powder (made with acidified cream of tartar)
1 pinch organic salt
1 spoon “speculaaskruiden” as explained below*
40 ml olive oil with a delicate taste (better cold pressed)
1 egg (or 3 spoon vegetal milk for vegan option)
grated zest of one organic orange

*I used recipe 3 explained in this post, anyway I repeat here the ingredients and the respective proportions: cinnamon (8/8), cloves (1/8), white pepper (1/8), ginger (2/8), cardamom (1/8), star anise (1/8), nutmeg flower (3/8) – 8/8 corresponds to 1 thee spoon of the measuring spoon set.

Ingredients for the icing:

80g dark chocolate (70% minimum)
grated zest of one organic orange

Procedure:
.mix all the dry ingredients and make sure to sieve the baking powder good
.add the oil, the egg previously beaten and mix until you obtain a soft mixture
.cover the over tray with parchment paper
.make some very small balls (approx. 3-4 grams each) and place them on the baking paper not too close to each other (they will expand in the oven)
.bake at160 degrees for 12-15 minutes
.let it cool down

04_pepernoten

.in the meantime melt the chocolate in a bain marie
.add the grated orange zest and mix
.dip the pepernoten in the chocolate, then place them on a sheet of parchment paper at a safe distance
.wait until ‘the chocolate has cooled down and solidified
.detach from the sheet and store in an airtight glass jar, possibly in the refrigerator

05_pepernoten

As you can understand my kids really enjoy in contributing to realize this recipe :-). Both versions have been appreciated. Now the question is: will there still be any left on friday?… I doubt!

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Time 30 minutes preparation time, 15 minutes cooking time
Difficulty very low
Prevention and DIANA diet If you want to know more about the diet recommended by Cascina Rosa (National Cancer Institute of Milan) for women who have had breast cancer, click here (only italian). This diet is anyway suitable for all the people who want to adopt a more healthy lifestyle that will help prevent cancer and other degenerative diseases.
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