Where do those Dutch cookies come from?
The “pepernoot” is a small biscuit with a long history. It was originally linked to The Sinterklaas festival, which has been celebrated in the Netherlands since 1600. Peppernuts were still made from dough scraps from the relatively cheap gingerbread. Many people think that pepernoten and “kruidnootjes” are the same. This is not the case. The difference is in the structure and size of the cookie. The old Dutch peppernuts are large and are made from rye flour and anise.
The kruidnoot as we know it today originated in the seventeenth century. The kruidnoot is smaller, harder and has a deeper and sharper flavor than the peppernut. In addition, it has the shape of a half sphere. The kruidnoot is made from wheat flour and gingerbread spices. These are cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger powder, cardamom and white pepper.
Cookie, candy or nut?
The peppernut dates from the time when the Dutch East India Company (VOC) got all kinds of spices from the Dutch East Indies. For the sake of convenience, people often called all spices “pepper”, including cinnamon and nutmeg. Pepper was therefore a collective name for everything that came from the East.
The word “nut” from gingerbread also comes from that time. In addition to herbs, nuts were also often transported. And the shape of the peppernut is a bit like that of almonds or other nuts. But the similarity is also in the way you eat real nuts and peppernuts. It is simply impossible to take only one, you’ll always grab a few at a time.
The peppernuts we eat today are mainly kruidnootjes and not pepernoten. However, the kruidnootjes are popularly still called peppernut.