Friday, December 5, 2014

Christmas Countdown 21 .... St Nicholas' Eve Feast

from : http://baking-jds.blogspot.com.au/2013/01/spectacular-spicy-speculaas.html


Today's and tomorrow's Christmas food countdown are both about the celebration of St Nicholas' Day (6 December) - mostly celebrated in Europe - the Netherlands, Germany, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Poland...  For example, in the Netherlands St. Nicholas is celebrated on the 5th, the eve of the day, by sharing candies (thrown in the door), chocolate initial letters, small gifts, and riddles. Dutch children leave carrots and hay in their shoes for the saint's horse, hoping St. Nicholas will exchange them for small gifts. Simple gift-giving in early Advent  helps preserve a Christmas Day focus on the Christ Child. ( information from http://www.stnicholascenter.org/) 


St Nicholas Eve (5th December) is a time for family feasts. The foods include:
    • Boiled chestnuts served with salt and butter;
    • Hot punch;
    • Milk chocolate letter of your first initial;
    • Spicy ginger cookies called "speculaas koekjes" made in the shape of a windmill or of St Nicholas.
While our family have not had a tradition of celebrating St Nicholas Day, the special food has not been part of our Christmas menu, but speculaas cookies have often  been a favourite in our family and I must admit this is how we know them ... straight from the shelves of the supermarket.... 
However, if you would like to try these spicy treats yourself today for tonight's St Nicholas" Eve feast, here is the link to a recipe by Martha Stewart.  Although, St Nicholas' speculaas cookies are usually the shape of windmills,, Dutch children or St Nicholas himself, you don't have to have a fancy mould to make them, but  make sure you have the cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves  and cardamon .... 
from http://thewellseasonedcook.blogspot.com.au/2007/09/curiouser-and-curiouser-speculaas.html

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