The Netherlands was one of the first foreign countries I got acquainted with. To my untrained palate, and because of my mother’s restrictive policy when it came to candy, Holland pulled a curtain to reveal a wealth of treats that might account for the sweet tooth I developed early on. Or it might have been my friend Diego’s fault by introducing me to Bounty, a dark chocolate and coconut candy bar I can now  find only in an English pub in Santa Monica, and to another delicious thin sheet of chocolate filled with crunchy mint I never encountered again. Or it might have been on account of Diego’s mother, who took us to a windmill where they served Poffertijes, little silver dollar pancakes drenched in syrup. And what about those tins of round, thin wafer sandwiches with sticky caramel inside?I had never seen such wonders.

Later on in life, as I got more familiar with all kinds of cuisines and as I kept on going back to the Netherlands time and time again, mainly for business reasons, I skimmed over Dutch cuisine that, to me, amounted to an ungodly amount of cheese and cold cuts in the morning and bland offerings for dinner (sorry Stefan – if you are reading).

But I have developed a morbid attraction towards what I perceive as unusual recipes, whenever I come across them. A little while ago, I found an article in the New York Times Sunday magazine on modern “traditional” Dutch cuisine and, being a pastry chef,  my eye fell on Hangop met Boerenjongens (apparently meaning Buttermilk with Soaked Raisins). The recipe languished in my files for a while, until I had some cream I did not want to toss and decided to get to the store for some buttermilk.

I have the sneaky suspicion that our supermarket bought buttermilk pales in comparison to the Dutch version – after all, it’s the land of milk and cheese (and did I mention Droste Pastilles, another childhood love of mine? I wonder if they actually taste as good as I remember..).

The recipe calls for soaking raisins in brandy – I opted for some peach flavoured brandy that has been languishing in my liquor cabinet for years, brought by a long forgotten guest, who knows when, the type of drink no one in their right mind would dare to touch.

The beauty of this ultra-simple dessert is that it’s so easy the most novice of cooks couldn’t screw it up. And it doesn’t require an oven or a stove. Just a fridge. But I have been blabbering too long. For the recipe, I guess, there is always tomorrow.






Filed under desserts, food, Travel

4 responses to “OF DUTCH DESSERTS

  1. I also LOVED the Bounty bar – maybe I can find it in an English pub near me. 😉

  2. It used to be all over Europe! Maybe it’s a good thing I don’t have it as available here as a Hershey bar…never been terribly good at resisting temptation of the chocolate variety…

  3. Ciao Claudia!
    Don’t worry, I’m not offended at all. It’s not a coincidence that I hardly ever cook Dutch food and have become adept at cooking Italian!
    The “delicious thin sheet of chocolate filled with crunchy mint” was probably called “After Eight” (although I would say it’s the chocolate that’s crunchy rather than the mint). If you like that taste, you’ll probably like a cocktail called Grasshopper (creme de menthe & chocolate liqueur, I love it ;-).
    The wafers with caramel are called stroopwafels, I always bring them to the US when I visit friends there.
    Droste pastilles are indeed just chocolate (quality OK but nothing fancy), although it may be the shape that gives it something extra.
    Food eaten in the Netherlands (both in restaurants and at home) is much better than say 20 years ago, mostly because it’s much more international (Italian, French, Chinese, Thai, Indonesian, etc.). There are also some restaurants that do a pretty good job of Dutch haute cuisine, but those are rare.
    Are you still visiting the Netherlands? If so, you are definitely invited for dinner 🙂 I’ve cooked for Italians before but never for an Italian chef — I’m up for a challenge though 😉
    Did you ever try drop when you were in NL? I don’t eat it often (since I don’t eat many sweets except for an almost daily piece of 72% dark chocolate) but I like the double-salted kind. There are some hilarious clips on YouTube of my countrymen forcing foreign visitors to try drop…
    This must be my longest comment on WP so far 😉
    All the best,

    • Hi Stefan, Haven’t been to Holland in a while but if I do, consider the invitation accepted! And likewise if you happen to be in LA. Either my recollections are skewered (entirely possible, as I was 10 at the time) but it was definitely not After 8. Rather, it was a candy bar and the mint inside was very crunchy and bright green – probably taken off the market for causing cancer!!! You know, I had a string of Dutch bosses at some point, during my music industry days and yes, they had me try drop. Can’t say I ever warmed up to it – an acquired taste if I ever tried one! Even if I love pure liquorice, which you can only find in Italy and Spain – when I have people try, they mostly gag!But I do rememeber fantastic Indonesian and Asian meals in general in Amsterdam – having said that, I would love to try a truly outstanding Dutch meal. Something to put on my list

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