St Nicolas, patron of children, sailors and the city of Amsterdam, arrives by boat from Spain with his white horse and his helpers – chimney sweeps – called Petes to assist him. It is a busy time for St Nick, crossing the roofs with his horse while the Petes take the presents down the chimneys. Traditionally, the Petes also scatter "pepernoten" around for the kids. 

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  • 250 g self-raising flour
  • 125 g caster sugar
  • 2 tsp speculaas spices
  • pinch of salt
  • 100 g cold butter, cubed
  • 60 ml milk

Speculaas spices

  • 30 g ground cinnamon
  • 10 g ground nutmeg
  • 5 g ground aniseed
  • 10 g ground cloves
  • 5 g white pepper
  • 5 g ground coriander

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


To make the speculaas, combine all the ingredients in a small bowl.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, caster sugar, speculaas, salt and butter. Mix well. Add the milk and knead thoroughly for 5 minutes. Roll into small balls and place on baking tray lined with baking paper. Bake at 200°C for 15 minutes.


Geert Elzinga is the owner/chef of Essen Restaurant and Beer Cafe, Broadway 145, Ultimo, Sydney, (02) 9211 3805.