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.