The patter of tiny hooves

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 ( 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.

Screen shot 2014-05-31 at 3.23.18 PMOn 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:

24 thoughts on “The patter of tiny hooves

  1. tialys says:

    Are speculaas the same as speculoos because I think that’s what it says on the packets of biscuits we buy here in France. I’m sure they must be the same as I had a Dutch friend who lived here for a while and she introduced me to them. Mr. T isn’t keen but the girls love them and they are incredibly moreish. They also do a speculoos spread!
    p.s. I still haven’t made your peanut butter and chocolate chip cookies as I’ve suddenly realised I’m the only one left in the house for the moment who likes peanut butter and I don’t want to eat a whole batch.

    • katechiconi says:

      I suppose they’re the same, but I’ve never seen them called Speculoos before. Regarding the peanut butter cookies: you get very little actual peanut butter flavour. Personally I use the crunchy kind to give me a little bit of nuttiness. It might be worth a try – you could always give them away!

    • Emmely says:

      They are similar but not exactly the same. Speculoos is from Belgium and contains a bit less spices than the Dutch speculaas.

    • katechiconi says:

      Hmm, it certainly does say Speculoos. But they invented them in Holland, and there it’s spelt Speculaas, so I think I’ll stick with the original spelling!

  2. Hmmm……reading this before breakfast was not a good idea! They look delicious 🙂

    • katechiconi says:

      They absolutely are! But unlike my peanut butter cookies, they’re time consuming and fiddly, so I won’t be making them often. Probably just as well…..

  3. Nanette says:

    How disappointing Kate, I thought you’d gone and followed Celi’s lead and got yourself a little Tima:) Your little hooves look good, and I love speculaas. Are your countrypeople responsible for pffernous too?…I probably spelt that wrong. And salty licorice, yum, love it.

    • katechiconi says:

      I’d adore a piggy or two, and chooks, but our current home has so little back yard that I’m struggling to find space to grow food, let alone keep livestock. I think you must mean pfeffernusse, and if so, no, they originate in Germany, but they’re still gorgeous.

    • katechiconi says:

      Very! They’re not at all difficult, just fiddly. I think I probably would make the round ones again, but the business with the piping bag is a bit of a pain.

  4. Here in Wales The Tanygroes Waffle Company make the Stroopwafels you describe, so we can buy local! They sometimes have a stall making them fresh at local fairs… hot off the waffle iron is even better than warmed over a cup of coffee… drool

  5. Emmely says:

    Hmmm, stroopwafels, I now want to go to the market to get some fresh ones… Your bokkepootjes look very good too!

  6. Jule says:

    I’m sitting here drooling over my keyboard. 😀 The pootjes recipe reminds me of ‘Mandelhörnchen’ (almond horns) which are bent, sometimes flat and about the size of a hand with both ends dipped into chocolate. In Germany, spekulatius (speculaas) and pfeffernüsse are characteristic Christmas treats. Which means they will be appearing in the shops by the end of August. 😉

    • katechiconi says:

      Well, if you’re at all inclined to make them yourself, I should start practising immediately to make sure they’re absolutely right before Christmas… Plenty of sampling will be required…

  7. Kirsten says:

    Oooh, look at those! They look delicious! The recipe is on the list, but I haven’t got to it yet.

    I avoided mentioning syrup waffles in our previous conversation – they are one of my favourites. Do you remember Space Biscuits? They were basically a syrup waffle covered in chocolate. I’d love to have a go at recreating them, but sadly I don’t think I would be able to replicate them exactly. But then, never say never . . . I’ve just had a thought!

    • katechiconi says:

      They’re really, really good! I have to say I don’t remember Space Biscuits, but you interest me strangely…. it must be the word combination of waffle, syrup and chocolate….

  8. When something is tasty, other nationalities will claim it as theirs. My Swedish grandmother made something quite a bit like Speculaas—saying it was an old Scandinavian recipe.

    • katechiconi says:

      I’ve done a bit of research into this, and I’m inclined to give the Dutch the benefit of the doubt. They have been making them for hundreds of years, and the quantity and combination of spices derives from the fact that the Netherland had a large colonial presence in the West and East Indies, from where these spices come. Scandinavia, Belgium and Germany all make something similar, but not for so long, and didn’t have the spice colonies. End of lesson!

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