Tag Archives: Spice

Mulling it Over

No Mince Pie and Mulled Wine party would be complete without some mulled wine. This spiced wine is traditionally flavoured with the Christmassy flavours of nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves.

I think the practice of spicing and warming wine is pretty international, and many European countries have a version of it, calling it Glühwein, Glögg, or Vin fiert. In the UK, we are also quite prone to mulling cider in a similar way, which is fantastic after a day in the cold. One of my friends brought some cider too, so everyone got to try out the traditional taste of the West Country.

The recipe for red and white wine is essentially the same, and don’t let either of them boil.

Recipe: Mulled Wine

Ingredients

1 orange (mulled red wine)

½ Orange and ½ Lemon (mulled white wine)

Cloves

Cinnamon stick

Grated nutmeg

100 g lichte basterdsuiker or soft brown sugar per 2 bottles of wine

Method

Stud the citrus fruit with the cloves. If you are mulling red wine, then halve the orange before you do so.

Put all of the ingredients in a saucepan, and heat gently until the sugar has dissolved. Don’t let the wine boil.

If you have time (and no thirsty guests already) you can allow the spices to steep for a few hours, and reheat before serving. It will also be fine if you serve it warm, straight away.

Bay leaves are also an interesting addition to mulled white whine, so bung a couple of them in as you heat it.

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Kruidnoten – Christmas Cookies

Kruidnoten

Kruidnoten – really tasty christmas treats

Dutch and Flemish children do not have to wait for Christmas to celebrate. On the 5th December, the Netherlands celebrate Sinterklaas, when St Nicholas visits them and fills their shoes with sweets and biscuits.

One of the traditional biscuits that are given out at this time of year are Kruidnoten. These are little aniseed – flavoured biscuits, that are given to children, and also appear on your saucer whenever you order a coffee in December.

I really like them, and wanted to try my hand at doing some myself. the recent Mince Pie Party seemed like the perfect place to start, and my guests wouldn’t have to wait until Christmas either. As a bonus, these biscuits are vegan, as they contain no butter. Much older recipes do use honey, but these days stroop is a great alternative.That link is in Dutch, but stroop is basically a viscous sugar syrup, often the by-product of refining sugars. It is widely available in the Netherlands and often used on pancakes.

If you cannot get stroop where you are, golden syrup is also perfectly acceptable.

I got the recipe that I used from here. I have translated it below, and adapted it very slightly, to make it wholly vegan.

Recipe: Kruidnoten

Ingredients

200 g plain flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

Pinch salt

150 g stroop or golden syrup

2 tsp speculaas spice. This is widely available in the Netherlands. If you are not in the Netherlands and fancy trying these, you can mix up your own – I will give the proportions at the end of this recipe.

1 tsp ground aniseed (I grind mine fresh when I need it in a pestle and mortar)

Method

Preheat the oven to 160°C

Mix the flour, baking powder, spices, and salt in a bowl. Then make a well in the centre.

Add the stroop to the well, and stir in the flour. It should form a firm dough, but if it doesn’t, add a little more stroop or some water. I found that I needed a little of both, for this amount of flour.

Brush a baking sheet with oil.

Break off small chunks of dough, and roll them into balls. Press them into the baking tray, so that the base is flat. You will need to have well floured hands, and if the mixture gets a little sticky, roll it in a little flour as well.

Bake for about 15 minutes until the biscuits are browned. They should still be a little soft at this point, because they harden as they cool.

Recipe: Speculaas Spice

According to mijnreceptenbook.com speculaas spices can be made up yourself in the following proportions:

50 g ground cinnamon

15 g ground (or finely grated) nutmeg

10 g ground cloves

10 g ground ginger

5 g ground pepper

5 g ground aniseed

This mix will kep well in an airtight jar. If you want to make this up, you could reduce the amount of  each spice proportionately, or make up the lot, and try it in gingerbread, cakes and other recipes that call for either ground ginger or ground cinnamon to ring the changes.

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