Sinterklaas (Santa Claus) will be coming soon, so it is time to place your shoes out with a bit of hay inside them, this is for Santa‚Äôs white horse, in preparation of his arrival. If you have been good, you will receive candy and gifts, but if you have been naughty, Zwarte Piet (Black Peter- Santa‚Äôs helper) may either chase you with a stick or place you in a sack to bring back to Spain. Spain? Yes, Sinterklaas lives in Spain, and he arrives December 5th via steamboat in Amsterdam to deliver gifts to all of Holland‚Äôs well behaved children; he is Amsterdam‚Äôs patron saint.
The Netherlands celebrate what is known as St. Nicholas Eve on December 5th. Children, as well as adults, partake in the gift giving, all the while playing little tricks on each other before one receives their Christmas goodie. Sometimes presents are hidden and clues need to be followed to locate them, or a huge box will be unwrapped only to discover there is a much smaller gift inside. The Dutch do celebrate Christmas on December 25th and 26th, however these days aren‚Äôt traditionally gift giving days so much as a time to spend with family and celebrate Christmas with good food and drinks. Let‚Äôs kick off this holiday season with some Dutch Christmas Cheer!
Boerenjongens (Dutch Brandy & Raisins) in English it translates to Farm Boys
Preparation & Cook Time: 25 minutes
(You will need 4 mason jars with lids.)
- ¬†1 clove
- ¬†1 cinnamon stick
- ¬†1 ¬º c brown sugar
- ¬†Zest of 1 lemon
- ¬†3 c white raisins or sultana
- ¬†1 tsp honey
- ¬†1 tsp vanilla extract
- ¬†1 c water
- ¬†4 c brandy (Dutch white grain brandy if possible)
Heat in a saucepan over medium the water and brown sugar until the sugar has completely dissolved. Add the lemon zest, raisins, honey, vanilla, cinnamon and clove. Continue heating over medium until the raisins have swelled and softened. Then, bring the mixture to a boil, and use a straining spoon to separate the raisins from the liquid. Ladle the raisins into the mason jars.
Continue heating the liquid until it thickens, and then remove the pan from heat to cool. Strain the remaining spices and lemon zest from the liquid, and pour the liquid into the mason jars. Divide the brandy evenly between all the jars. Secure the lids on each jar and shake. Place the jars in a cool, dark location to age a few weeks. This beverage will keep, if unopened, for about a year. Once the jar has been opened, it needs to be chilled.
Serve this fun holiday cordial up at your Christmas party, or tie a ribbon around the top of the jar and give it away as a gift. Boerenjongens will add a fun European flare to this year‚Äôs holiday party. To experience the real deal, begin planning a trip to Amsterdam for this December. 1-800-Fly-Europe offers the lowest rates for booking flights to the Netherlands or even flights to Barcelona this season.