Sadly, I lost my Dutch mother many years ago, but not before she had passed on a few kitchen secrets, some tastes which would be considered bizarre by many (salted liquorice? Eeuw…) and an addiction to various cakes and biscuits. Of these, there are two that absolutely stand out.
The first I doubt I’ll ever be able to replicate, since I’m compelled by my personal biology to be a member of the Gluten Free school of cooking. The name of this gooey delight is Stroopwafels. They are ultra thin, slightly crumbly, lightly spiced, buttery, round micro waffles sandwiching a thin filling of honey/butter/caramel. Best eaten by placing them flat on the top of your coffee mug to allow the heat and steam to slightly melt the filling and warm the waffle. To say they produce moans of pleasure when eaten is not an exaggeration.
The second goes by the unlikely name of Bokkepootjes, which means Goat’s Feet, or Goat’s Hooves. A delicate ladyfinger style biscuit made from almond meal and meringue is sprinkled with flaked almonds before baking, sandwiched together with melted dark chocolate, and then the end is dipped in dark chocolate too, which forms the eponymous ‘hoof’. I am not to be trusted around these confections. Fortunately most commercial ones are not gluten free…
I was having a nostalgic online conversation with Kirsten of the Pink Rose Bakery (http://thepinkrosebakery.com) who is also a great fan of Dutch food. She has produced a sensational recipe for Speculaas*, the traditional Dutch Christmas biscuit, crisp and light, and filled with spices. I suspect she may be working on a recipe for Bokkepootjes too, but I couldn’t wait any longer. A wave of nostalgia sent me to the kitchen and this is the result.
On the left, Bokkepootjes. Not beautiful, certainly not expert, but Lord are they delicious. I thought I’d try them as little rounds also, half dipped in dark choccy. On the right you see the result, which I’m going to call Halfjes. No prizes for guessing this means Halves… I suspect it’ll be a while before I make them again, because it’s fiddly, but now I know I can.
And the recipe?
8 large egg whites
1.75 cups vanilla caster sugar
5.25 cups sifted almond meal
Small pkge flaked almonds
200g good quality dark chocolate
Beat the egg whites till foamy, gradually add the sugar and beat till stiff. Gently fold in the almond meal. Spoon into a large piping bag with a large star nozzle (mine was too small and the bickies are a bit puny). Pipe onto a cookie sheet lined with non-stick baking paper, forming 8cm/3″ ladyfinger shapes. If you want the Halfjes too, use the same nozzle and just pipe a squashed round shape. Sprinkle with flaked almonds. Leave on the bench to dry for a couple of hours. Heat the oven to 160C and bake the biscuits for 15-20 minutes until lightly golden. Do not brown or the flavour will be altered. Cool completely. Break up the dark chocolate and melt it on medium in the microwave in 30 second increments until it’s just melted. Pair the biscuits up, dip the flat base of one side in melted chocolate and quickly sandwich with the other side. Do this for all of them and put in the fridge for 20 minutes to harden the chocolate. Heat the rest of the melted chocolate again, and then dip the ends of the biscuits in the chocolate to form the ‘hooves’. Harden in the fridge, and then put into an airtight container and keep cool. If you’re making the Halfjes (much easier), just dip half the bicky in the chocolate.
The little darlings are crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside, wonderfully almondy and distinctly chocolatey. Now, where’s my cup of tea….
*WordPress still isn’t allowing me to insert links, so just click here for the recipe: