It’s closing in on December 5th, and it’s this time of year when there are normally gifts and wonderful Dutch goodies in the house. Only this year, there are none. It was J who introduced me to these wonderful culinary delights, and for 10.5 years we had been together, I had never made taai-taai, speculaas or gevulde speculaas. This was because my mother-in-law would furnish us with a food parcel at this time of year.
Taai-taai aren’t exactly cookies, they are closer to gingerbread. They are spiced differently too, similar to that you would find in Dutch spiced biscuits (cookies), speculaas. They are soft, tough, chewy and incredibly moreish, made to be enjoyed with a cup of tea or coffee, and are definitely a good work out for your jaw! The shop-bought ones are often shaped in the form of Sinterklaas, however, I used a gingerbread man cutter.
The recipe was taken from The Dutch Table, my favorite website for Dutch recipes. I could not use all that white flour, so used half wholemeal (whole wheat) flour, and there was no pancake syrup left in the house, so I used golden syrup. It produced the most delicious taai-taai, which were better than the shop-bought variety. The funniest thing is, after eating four of them, I realized that although they were tasty, I was not a huge fan of them, J always liked them better.
TAAI-TAAI – DUTCH CHEWY SPICED HONEY CAKE DOLLS
Adapted from The Dutch Table: TaaiTaai (Dutch Honey Cake Dolls)
Makes 10 – 9 cm (3 ½ inch) dolls
- 115 g (⅓ c) honey
- 2 tablespoons golden syrup
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground aniseed
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon ground cloves
- 250 g (1 ⅔ c) plain (all-purpose) flour* or mixture of half plain (all-purpose) and half wholemeal (whole wheat)
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder*
- water, as needed
- 1 egg, beaten
* If you have self-raising (-rising) flour, skip the baking powder
1. Place the honey and syrup into a medium sized metal bowl.
2. Place bowl directly on the hob (stove) over low heat. Stir until the mixture is combined and very liquid.
3. Take off heat and stir in salt, cinnamon, aniseed, nutmeg and cloves.
4. In another bowl, mix together the flour and baking powder, then pour into the warmed spiced honey.
5. Stir, and then combine with your hands to form a smooth non-sticky dough. You may need to add some water at this stage, add 1 tablespoon at a time until the dough comes together.
6. Wrap the dough in clingfilm (plastic wrap) and chill overnight or upto 2 days.
7. Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F) and line a baking tray (sheet/pan) with a silicone mat or parchment paper.
8. Flour the surface and dough, then roll the dough to 8 mm (1/3 inch) thick and stamp out the gingerbread men shapes.
9. Carefully transfer the shapes onto the prepared baking tray (sheet/pan). Re-roll and repeat until all of the dough is used up.
10. Brush the shapes with beaten egg and bake in middle of the oven for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.
11. Transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool before enjoying!