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Sinterklaas (Saint Nicholas) will make his annual visit to the Netherlands on Saturday 17th November. This year his official arrival will take place in the Dutch province of Limburg, where he and his Pieten (helpers) will moor at the Roerkade in Roermond around midday. From the moment the Sint (Saint) sets foot on Dutch soil, excited children may start to place their shoe beneath the chimneybreast, in the expectation that it will be crammed with typical Sinterklaas goodies. Dutch emigrants abroad also enjoy keeping this beloved Sinterklaas tradition alive – here is a list of their favourite Sinterklaas treats, which can be found throughout the Sinterklaas season in Dutch shoes all over the world.
The chocoladeletter (a solid chocolate letter) is synonymous with Sinterklaas and no authentic Sinterklaas celebration is complete without one. Dutch children begin to receive these delightful chocolate letters in their shoes well in advance of the Sinterklaas celebration, which takes place on 5th December. Certainly the most coveted are those prepared from top quality chocolate such as the celebrated Droste Chocolate Letters. Letters A, S, M and J are by far the most popular, although several shops, including online supermarket Holland at Home stock (almost) the entire alphabet.
Kruidnoten are surprisingly crunchy little biscuits, traditionally prepared using a special range of Sinterklaas spices. Kruidnoten often form part of the quintessential Dutch strooigoed (a mixture of sweet treats) that are liberally sprinkled about the fireplace for the Sint and his helpers to enjoy after unloading the parcels. They’re also perfect with a cup tea or coffee!
Delicious speculaasbrokken are similar to standard speculaas biscuits, but are much thicker and crunchier and often come with a tempting coat of sliced almonds. Try breaking off generous sized chunks of this delicately spiced treat and serve with tea or coffee.
Speculaas is such a popular biscuit in the Netherlands, that manufacturers have been marketing an almost infinite number of variations in recent decades, including Speculaasbrokken (described above) and Speculaaspop (similar to gingerbread men). The gevulde amandelspeculaas is yet another version, this time boasting a soft outer layer and a creamy almond filling. Delicious with a hot cup of tea on a chilly winter’s day!
Sint Schuimpjes are delightfully soft, foamy sweets, usually with an intense fruit flavour such as banana or strawberry. Although schuimpjes are extremely popular throughout the year, these special Sint Schuimpjes are only available during the Sinterklaas season and are delicious when mixed with kruidnootjes or speculaas.
Of course there are a plenty of other tasty Sinterklaas goodies to place in your shoe, including amandelstaaf (almond cane), amandelletter (almond letter), taai taai (a type of gingerbread) and marzipan. They might not have made the top 5, but Sinterklaas still wouldn’t be the same without them!
Want to learn more about the history of the Dutch Sinterklaas tradition? You’ll find all you need to know in an earlier article, The Story of Sinterklaas
Prefer to read this article in Dutch? Why not visit to our sister blog, heimwee.info, specifically intended for Dutch emigrants abroad.