"...just a smile away from Whoville with a hint of It's a Wonderful Life."
—Huffington Post
Sinterklaas Send-Off Celebration, Kingston, New York
Sinterklaas Festival Day, Rhinebeck, New York

Sinterklaas Recipes

Pastry Letter (blankeletter)

1 cup flour
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup ice water
1 cup almond paste

Mix the butter and flour and add the water. Roll out the dough until thin, fold it, and roll it over again. Repeat this 3 times. Let it stand for about 5 minutes and repeat the whole process 3 times. Shape the dough into a long narrow strip, place the almond paste in the center, bring the edges together and make a roll. Form a letter from it and place it in the center of a baking tray. Cover the letter with beaten egg and water and bake it for 1/2 hour at 400 degrees. Frost with chocolate icing.

Dutch Speculaas (Spekulaas) Cookies

Traditional almond-spice (“windmill”) cookies of Holland

1 cup margarine (or butter)
1 cup brown sugar (firmly packed)
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ginger
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon almond extract
3 tablespoons milk
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

1. Cream margarine. Add sugar, spices. Cream until fluffy.
2. Add extract and 3 tablespoons milk, beat to blend.
3. Add flour and baking powder, a little at a time, blending well.
4. Cover dough lightly; chill for 3 hours or more.
5. Mold cookies in traditional Speculaas Molds
6. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 10-15 min.
Hint: If you have some loss of pattern during baking, try chilling the molded cookies for a few minutes before baking.

Chocolate Letters

At many Dutch Sinterklaas Eve parties, the very last surprise in Sinterklaas’ special burlap sack, are chocolate initials, the first letter of each person’s name.

There will be one for each person—the first given to the youngest child, then on up to the oldest person present. These letters are popular throughout the Sinterklaas season. The tasty treats may be found in shoes, left by Sinterklaas as he makes his rounds checking on children. These letters make special little Sinterklaas remembrances to enjoy with a cup of coffee or tea. The letters, in brightly colored boxes, are sold from around October 15th through December 5 only. Unsold letters aren’t marked down, rather, they are returned to the manufacturers to be melted down for other chocolate treats.

The custom of edible letters goes back to Germanic times when, at birth, children were given a runic letter, made of bread—as a symbol of good fortune. Schools in the Middle Ages used bread and chocolate letters to teach the alphabet. When the letter was learned and could be written well, a pupil could eat it up! Letters became associated with Sinterklaas in the 19th century, when a sheet was used to cover St. Nicholas presents. A bread dough letter, placed on top of the sheet, identified where a child’s gifts were located.

During the 1800s, advances in cocoa bean processing led to the production of chocolate letters. The Netherlands is the only place with a St. Nicholas chocolate initial letter tradition.

Look in the window of Samuel’s for the letters. You can buy one for your friends and family members.