You can’t live in the Netherlands for very long before discovering that the Dutch eat sprinkles on bread for breakfast.
If you have, by chance, missed out on this very Dutch habit, hagelslag comes a variety of flavours (dark, milk, white chocolate and a fruit flavour are common) and, if the basic sprinkle isn’t enough for you, your supermarket will also have muisjes (candy-coated anise sprinkles), vlokken (or flakes of various chocolate flavours) as well as hagelslag in various sizes.
Spread the Hagel was written by Jennifer Foster and Lianne Koster, whose previous foray into cookbooks focused on peanut butter. It starts with background on the history of hagelslag, the origin of which is contested. The book offers three possible stories, which I will not quote here, but doesn’t, sadly, claim any of them to be true.
If you fancy making your own hagelslag, you will find the instructions early on in the book. However, as it is readily available at any Dutch grocery store, skipping directly to the recipes may be easier.
The main ingredient being considered a breakfast food in the Netherlands, the book starts out with several breakfast recipes. None are especially innovative and most readers would be familiar with similar version which use chocolate chips instead.
Sweet items, including brownies, cookies and bacon dipped in chocolate come on board next. Since it’s chocolate at hand, there are a lot of deserts.
Where things get very interesting is the dinner section, which manages to find use for hagelslag in soups, risotto and even spaghetti. We tried the gorgonzola hagel spaghetti recipe and I have to say it was quite disgusting. Creamy pasta doesn’t need chocolate flavouring, but kudos to the authors for trying something different.
The book them moves back to desserts, only this time in a liquid form, ranging from milkshakes to cocktails. And finally, hagelslag goes global – again, it’s mostly deserts though there is a recipe for chili con carne.
The recipes are simple and easy to make, relying on basic cookware and a beginner level knowledge of cooking, and the book itself is aesthetically pleasing with minimalist style and lots of large photos.
Overall, Spread the Hagel is a neat little cookbook. The recipes aren’t life changing, but they are creative and simple. It makes for a great gift for anyone living in the Netherlands who is familiar with hagelslag and wants to find more interesting uses for it. Just avoid the gorgonzola sauce.
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