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Dutch St. Nicholas Eve Letters (Letterbanket)

Dutch children leave wooden shoes at the fireplace to be filled by Sinterklaas on December 6th, St. Nicholas' Eve. Those who have been good will find, among other presents, chocolate candy or these almond-filled cakes in the shape of their first initial. These usually range from 2 or 3 inches to 8 inches in height.


  • 1 cup (1/2 pound) unsalted butter or lard
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup ice water, approximately
  • 2 cups marzipan, purchased or homemade
  • 1 egg yolk beaten with 2 tablespoons water
  • Plain or colored sugar, candied cherries and fruit peels, nut meats (optional)


  1. Cut shortening into flour, using two knives or a pastry blender, until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add ice water, a tablespoon at a time, until dough can be gathered into a ball. Wrap in waxed paper and let stand 30 minutes.
  2. Roll out to 1/4-inch thickness on a lightly floured board. Cut into strips about 2 1/2 inches wide and 4 inches long. (Vary this for smaller or larger letters.) Roll marzipan into sausage rolls, about 1-inch in diameter. Place these on the strips of dough and close dough over filling, sealing edges with water.
  3. Flip over gently so seam is on bottom. Carefully bend into letters. Place on a buttered baking sheet.
  4. Brush with egg yolk glaze and bake in preheated 400 degree F oven for 20 to 30 minutes, or until dough is golden brown and crisp.

Makes 10 letters 1 to 3 inches tall, or 2 large letters.

If you want to decorate dough with any of the suggested garnishes, brush with glaze and add sugar, fruit and/or nuts before baking.

Posted by Olga at The Cutting Board Saturday Sep 24th, 2005 12:33 pm.

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