Wait, you have never heard of Drabbelkoeken…? Yeah, me neither. As a matter of fact, none of my Dutch friends knew what they were. Until I traveled through the most northern province in the Netherlands, Friesland, and started to immerse myself into some Dutch local food. Drabbelkoeken are crispy cookies, sweet and a little greasy. They originated in the area around the city Sneek. Good luck trying to find these anywhere else in the country: a true local specialty.
But are they goooood – oh yes. This recipe is a way to enjoy some Drabbelkoeken regardless of your location. It takes some practice, but it’s better than flying over to the Netherlands every time you crave a snack.
Making them is quite easy and quick. The challenge is mimicking the same techniques that true experts use. An authentic drabbelkoek is made using a unique funnel with three holes in it. Don’t worry, a bit of improvising will still enable you to make this typical Dutch recipe at home. Consider the recipe a bit of cheating-but-it’s-still-jummy-goodness. Fun for a lazy Sunday or a trip down memory lane. Consider it a culinary journey from the comfort of your home.
The history of drabbelkoeken
The drabbelkoeken originated in the Dutch province Friesland around 1700. Bakery Haga, the true master to this day, has been baking these since 1850. You can taste the centuries of practice: it resulted in a perfect crisp, with a shape one really can’t compare.
Another name for them is ‘boter drabbelkoeken’, as the main ingredient is butter made from real milk (don’t you dare use margarine). In the olden days, drabbelkoeken were mainly a treat for the rich: real butter or cream butter was fancy stuff back then. According to Haga, a can of 13 cookies used to cost one guilder, in a time where the average joe made around 7 guilders per week. Auch.
The unique way of making drabbelkoeken
The real cookie is best bought from bakery Haga, who wrap them up in absolutely stunning traditional cans, or sold per piece. It’s not factory work here either: to this day every cookie is baked by hand with a lot of love, as you can see in this video.
The dough is very liquid and is poured through a special funnel. Thin strings of dough drip out, directly into sizzling hot oil. A machine at Haga makes the funnel move back and forth, creating layers. This step is essential for the shape of this Dutch local snack. The entire process is called ‘drabbelen’.
After a few minutes, the cookie is placed on top of a bowl that’s turned upside down. This is what hardens the cookie and makes them crispy.
Sounds good? The factory allows visitors to take a look for free. It’s one of the fun things to do in Sneek!
Ingredients for drabbelkoeken
This is what you’ll need:
- 150g regular flour
- 100g buckweat flour
- 1 pinch of salt
- 200g sugar
- 3 teaspoons cinnamon
- 2 eggs
- 300 cc milk
- 250g butter (no margarine)
Optional, but prefered:
A thin funnel, ideally one with 3 holes in the bottom
Grab a big bowl and sift the regular four together with the buckwheat flour. Add the cinnamon, salt, sugar and eggs. While stirring, gradually add the milk. Take your time and stir it into a nice and smooth dough.
Warm up the butter in a heavy-bottom saucepan. Tip: place a large round cookie cutter (or similar shape) inside the pan, to make sure the dough doesn’t spread. After all, we’re not here to bake pancakes.
Pour two tablespoons of batter into the funnel. Slowly circle it back and forth above the saucepan, until the thin strings of batter create… well, a bird’s nest, really. When the batter dries sufficiently, flip the cookie over to bake the other side. Take it out with a skimmer when it looks golden brown on both sides.
Place the cookie on top of a bowl that’s turned upside-down. This creates the traditional curved shape during cooling, while the oil drips down.
Optional: sprinkle the cookie with sugar and cinnamon.
Useful Dutch words for this article:
- Cookie = Koekje
- Funnel = Trechter
- Frisian = Fries
- Flour = bloem
- This takes good = Daar lust ik er nog wel tien van
I’d love to know how much you love this crunchy snack. Drop your results down in the comments!