speculaas/pepernoten/spiced gingerbread cookies (Paleo, vegan, grain-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, soy-free, refined sugar-free)

Call it my Dutch background, my love of cookies, or the combination of the two: I’m in love with speculaas and pepernoten, Dutch spicy almond cookies that meld beautiful spices with soft, buttery cookies. Traditionally eaten on the 5th of December, the eve of Sinterklaas, they hold a plethora of happy memories!


As tradition goes, Sinterklaas, or Sint Nikolaas, arrives on a steam boat from Spain together with his Black Petes in November. On the 5th of December, he and his Petes travel the country delivering presents to children and adults alike. The Black Petes traditionally throw sweets and cookies, often pepernoten and marshmallow-like ‘schuimpjes’, all over the room when they enter your house.



Because I’m half-Dutch and half-British, we celebrate both Sinterklaas and Christmas in our household. As you can probably imagine, this definitely has advantages, but to me, the great advantage is (well, what else?!) the food!


The smell of the cinnamon, cloves, ginger, white pepper, and nutmeg wafting through the house as these bake is the quintessential smell of the start of the holiday season for me – spicy, warm, and delicious! The soft, almondy, bite-sized pillows that are pepernoten really are a unique, easy treat and one that is certainly worth trying!



The happiest of holidays to you and your family!

speculaas/pepernoten/spiced gingerbread cookies

by Alessandra Peters

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients (24 cookies)

  • 2 cups finely ground almond flour
  • 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


1. Preheat oven to 160C/325F.

2. Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl.

3. In a separate bowl, combine the wet ingredients.

4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, then knead until combined and forms a smooth dough.

5. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours.

6. Roll dough out into small, walnut-sized balls and flatten slightly with a wet finger.

7. Place on a lined baking tray and bake for 8-10 minutes until lightly browned. Enjoy!

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