Pepernoten are little spices cookies made with speculaas spices and brown sugar. This pepernoten recipe is super easy to make and the perfect thing to make with (small) children.
Pepernoten are a are especially popular during the St. Nicholas celebration. Children especially love these little cookies.
But wait there are many more Sinterklaas treats! You should also try speculaas and marzipan or even better speculaas filled with almond pasta for the real Sinterklaas experience.
What are pepernoten?
Pepernoten are small cookies made with brown sugar, butter, and speculaas spices. They are eaten around December 5 during St. Nicholas Day.
- Brown sugar - dark brown sugar gives a caramel flavor and a deep brown color to the dough. If light brown sugar or even white sugar is all you have you can certainly use that but it will affect the color and flavor.
- Flour - regular all-purpose flour is what you need.
- Speculaas spices - a spice mix made with cinnamon, cardamom, pepper, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, anise seed, and mace. I have a recipe for speculaas spices on this website!
- Butter - use unsalted cold butter for this recipe. If you use salted butter make sure you leave out the salt in this recipe.
You can find the full ingredient list and instructions on the recipe card below!
How to make pepernoten
1: Add all the ingredients to a large bowl and knead them together with your hands until you can form a ball. Don't overwork the dough, we want crispy cookies!
2: Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and place it in the fridge for at least an hour.
3: Roll out your dough and form little balls, they should be about ⅔ an inch.
4: Place them on a baking tray lined with parchment paper and bake them for about 15-20 minutes.
Tip: leave your dough in the fridge for 1-2 gives the spices a chance to really develop their flavor!
Baking with kids
kids love to help in the kitchen and why not? It's a great way to build their confidence and it's a fun way to develop their fine motor skills.
Because pepernoten are so easy to make, this is the perfect recipe to make with the kids. You can let them weigh the ingredients and knead the dough. They also love rolling the little balls! Obviously you keep them far away from sharp knives and from the hot oven!
And of course they are the first to be assigned the most important job… TASTING
Tools you'll need
Pepernoten are super easy to make but there are a few tools that can make it even easier!
- Bowls - use a large mixing bowl to knead the dough in.
- Kitchen scale - I know most of you use cups to measure their ingredients but you get better results with baking recipes using a scale, especially when baking.
You can store the uncooked dough in the fridge for about a week and in the freezer for about 3 months!
You can keep baked pepernoten for a week in an airtight container.
- Leaving the dough in the fridge for 1-2 days gives the spices a chance to develop their flavor.
- Traditional recipes for pepernoten and speculaas don’t include baking powder or baking soda.
- The warmth of your hands should be enough to soften the butter and form the dough. If your dough is too dry you can add 1-2 tbsp of milk or water.
- 240g (1 cup) flour
- 140g (5 oz.) cold butter
- 120g (⅔ cup) dark brown sugar
- 2 tbsp speculaas spices
- A pinch op salt
- In a large bowl mix all the dry ingredients together.
- Add the butter and knead the dough until you can form a ball.
- cover with clingfilm and let it rest in the fridge for at least 1 hour but it is best to leave it in the fridge for 1-2 days.
- Preheat your oven to 175˚C (350˚F).
- Take your dough out of the fridge, roll the dough into small balls, and place them on a baking tray lined with baking paper.
- Place your baking tray in the middle of the oven and bake your pepernoten for 15-20 minutes.
- If your dough is still a little dry you can add one tbsp of water or milk.
- Leaving the dough in the fridge for 1-2 days gives you a better flavor.
- (small) children love to help you make pepernoten.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 70 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 34Total Fat: 2gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 4mgSodium: 15mgCarbohydrates: 4gFiber: 0gSugar: 2gProtein: 0g