In November, all Dutch kids start feeling anxious. It’s almost time for Sinterklaas, who will bring them presents on December the 5th. That is, if you’ve been good!
Sinterklaas resembles the story of Santa Claus, they both come once a year to bring all the children presents. There are a few differences, Sinterklaas is celebrated on 5 December (his birthday) and instead of riding a sleigh, he rides his horse (on rooftops!). Dutch kids leave Sinterklaas a carrot, for his horse, but I guess he’d prefer the cookies Santa Claus gets. And he too brings you presents through the chimney but instead of putting them in your socks, he likes to stuff your shoes. (Any place foot-related seems to be fit for presents according to these bearded generous old men.)
Like the kids, I too love this period, and not in the least because of all the special candy and sweet treats that go with this tradition. Last year, I gave you the recipe for Kruidnoten or speculaas cookies. If I have any of those at home, I really have to restrain myself, because you can be sure they will all be eaten that very same day.
Another classic to eat around Sinterklaas, is marzipan in all shapes and sizes. Especially popular is marzipan shaped and coloured like little potatoes, mandarins, carrots, sausages and pigs… (what can I say? I didn’t invent it, it’s a strange, yet delicious tradition). Dutch kids also love to eat golden or silver coins (chocolate shaped like euro’s) and chocolate cigarettes.
Yep, you’ve read that right, cigarettes. Though to be fair, they’re not called cigarettes since longtime, nor do they resemble cigarettes, but when I was a kid (more than a quarter of a century ago) it was absolutely normal to find a package of fake Camels in your shoe! Me and my friends would pretend to be smoking, thinking we were so cool. Luckily, in my case that never led to any real smoking. Now, it’s hard to imagine these fake cigarettes were just as normal as a Twix bar (or should I say Raider?), but I guess there were more things that were strange in the eighties.
To me, eating marzipan shouldn’t be confined to the few weeks around Sinterklaas. I love it all year round. This marzipan almond butter is a good way of making sure I get my fix once in a while. It’s easy to make, you just need a good food processor or blender and some patience, as it can take a while before you almonds turn into a smooth butter. But the result is worth it! You can keep it for several weeks in an airtight container in your fridge.
I eat it right from the spoon, in my yogurt, on my bread and I use it in cakes and pies.
Marsipan almond butter recipe
- Almonds, raw, unpeeled 250 gr (1 + ¾ cup)
- Maple syrup, 2 tbsp
- Peanut oil**, 4 tbsp
- Salt, 1 tsp
- Blend the almonds in a heavy duty food processor
- Stop the machine every minute to scrape down the sides
- The almonds will start to get thicker and ‘wetter’ (the oil comes free)**
- Add the maple syrup, oil and salt
- Keep on processing, it will turn into marzipan and later butter
- Store in an airtight container
* Or almond oil
** This make a while, about 30 minutes in my case!