If you have never tried a stroopwafel, you are in for a treat! After one bite of the thin, waffle cookie with a caramel-like filling, you can not help but be hooked on this Dutch specialty. Legend has it that in the early 19th century a baker from Gouda in the Netherlands combined leftover ingredients to create this culinary delight.
To make the cookie portion of the stroopwafel, you will need either a pizzelle iron or a specific type of waffle maker (the average North American mechanism‚Äôs ridges are to deep for this job). I am going to suggest that you simply buy a package of Belgium waffle butter cookies to prepare your very first batch (you can find these at stores like Trader Joe‚Äôs or Whole Foods). Then after preparing the following filling, you can take the sweet to the next level by following a recipe like this one at dianasdesserts.com.
Yield: 15 cookies
Set aside: 2 packages of Belgium Butter Cookies (there should be about 30 total)
1/2 cup golden syrup (this comes in a little tin can and can be found at the same store as where you purchase the cookies)
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Heat all the above filling ingredients in a saucepan over medium until it begins to boil, and then lower the temperature a bit (not quite to medium low).
Continue simmering until it has reached soft ball stage (about 235-245 degrees Fahrenheit). If you don‚Äôt have a candy thermometer, the liquid will begin thickening (large bubbles begin forming and they are a lighter caramel color) after approximately 5 minutes. With a spoon, allow a few drops of the hot mixture to drip into a cold bowl of water. If the syrup filling is ready, it will keep a ball like form while submerged but will lose its shape once it is removed from the water.
Allow the contents to cool a bit (about 10 minutes), so you don‚Äôt burn your fingertips completing the next step.
Spread about 1 tablespoon of the filling on one cookie and then gently press the second cookie on top and enjoy!
Outdoor markets, grocery stores and even vending machines sell these fabulous waffle cookies in the Netherlands. A traditional way to enjoy a stroopwafel is to rest one over a steaming cup of tea or coffee to warm it before taking the first bite. Now, if you really want to experience the real deal (the waffle cookie will be softer and absolutely worth the extra work), you will need to book flights to the Netherlands so that you can purchase the golden, caramel filled cookie while it is still warm from the waffle press at an open-aired marketplace.
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 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.