We first wrote this article for Zomppa International Food Magazine Christmas edition. You can view this here.
Halloween is long past and Christmas is on our doorstep so in this issue we’re
going explore the Christmas traditions around baking. We have been thinking
hard for a Christmas influenced recipe which will leave you feeling less guilty
than indulging on some of the other less healthy Christmas treats on offer.
Ireland, many of you will already know how we are completely in love with the
Netherlands and its traditions. We have decided to share with you some of those
Christmas traditions which stood out to us as being the most interesting.
In Holland the Dutch have a character known as Sinterklaas, who is believed to live in Spain during the rest of
the year. You may recognise him as looking like our Santa Claus. Sinterklaas has his very own day of celebrations in Holland which is
normally quite a while before Christmas day, in 2012 Sinterklaas arrives on 17th
November! During this celebration Sinterklaas arrives in Holland with his
helpers, known as Piets. Sinterklaas arrives on a white horse and don’t be
surprised if you see his checking his little red book to see which children
have been naughty and which have been nice. Sinterklaas then travels through
the streets in a massive parade through Amsterdam dishing sweets out to all the
adoring children. This is a celebration which we would urge everyone to try and
experience if they are in the Netherlands during this time of year. A less well
known Dutch Christmas traditions is that in rural areas of the Netherlands,
Dutch farmers blow horns to celebrate the birth of Jesus, and said to ward off
evil spirits. Between when Sinterklaas arrives and normally 5th December, it is traditional for children to leave a shoe in front of the fireplace of their homes, if they are good Sinterklaas will leave them some gifts. It is traditional for most Dutch families to celebrate what we call Christmas Day on 5th December, including gift giving and opening of presents.
normally peppermint flavour, are now universally connected with the festive
period across the globe. It is believed
that these first made their appearance in Cologne, Germany around the late
fifteenth century. Thought to have been
the creative invention by a choirmaster of Cologne Cathedral, who was rather
fed up with the noise that children made during the cathedrals festive
celebrations. One year the choirmaster appointed a local candy business to make
a sweet treat that could be given to his congregation’s children during the
Christmas service. In order to tie it in with religious teachings he asked the
candy maker to make the candy in the shape of a shepherd’s crook, to remind the
children of the shepherds who visited Jesus in the stable on the night he was
born. And thus the candy cane was born. This Christmas treat quickly spread
across Europe and on to the rest of the world in time. We’ve since became
familiar with peppermint flavoured treats at Christmas. Inspired by this
wonderful festive flavour we have created a recipe which is light, chewy, minty
and chocolaty all in the same mouthful. Sounds great doesn’t it!
tray with a piece of parchment baking paper.
cream of tartar and salt together in a bowl and set to the side.
into a large bowl and beat on medium/high speed until soft peaks form.
sugar into the egg whites, use a metal spoon and fold gently so as not to knock
too much air out of the egg whites.
cocoa powder mixture. Fold just enough to combine the cocoa powder throughout
the mixture. Don’t worry if there are a few specks of white.
this mixture on the baking sheet. Leave 1-2 inches between each to allow them
to expand a little during cooking.
middle of the oven. The low temperature and the long bake time give the
meringues a gooey chewy chocolate centre. So it’s worth the wait!
cocoa content dark chocolate for extra indulgence.
mins before removing from the baking sheet. You may need to use a palette knife
to ensure the bottoms do not stick and come apart.