…or embrace this opportunity to become a “Slemp Dog Millionaire” 😉 .
Despite the winky face and implied alcoholic imbibingness of the start of what I’m deeming beverage month, this first offering is actually a traditional Dutch children’s drink for St. Nicholas Day (which I felt was very fitting since Dec 6 actually is St.Nicholas Day, how could I not make something in honour of that?). I had to make this liquid consumables month (I really know how to make something sound delicious don’t I? 😉 ) simply for space and sanity reasons. My freezer is currently home to somewhere in the neighbourhood of 1200-1600 cookies (and no, that is not a misprint, there are no accidental extra zeroes, please do not adjust your screen. Sixteen varieties of cookies with 80-100 cookies per variety…you do the math…because I don’t want to. Why are you turning fun baking sweetness into a math problem? At least you’ll have cookies while you do the inventory for your cookies…although if you eat them as you’re counting it might kind of throw off the whole thing…but then you get to learn about estimating! Right? Right. 😉 ).
I actually was originally intending to make this all about the seasonal alcoholic beverages, but once I started doing a little research on Christmas drinks, I found so many other fun things that were unique and interesting that I wanted to try, that alcohol ended up getting pushed to the back of the dusty cupboard of my brain…at least for a few seconds 😉 . I would actually say though that one of the saddest things for me doing drink research was finding out about Starbucks seasonal beverages that are only available in other countries 🙁 . Case in point, Starbucks in the Philippines offers a Pannetone (aka fruit cake) latte! What!!! (first of all, the reason I found this was because I thought of making this myself and was Googling to see if anyone else had come up with this idea before. Depressing to learn that not only was it thought of before, but it was thought of by a big huge corporation…a big huge corporation that selfishly refuses to share it with me. Triple sad face 🙁 🙁 🙁 . Oh well. This in turn had me fall into the vortex that is the internet and sidetrack myself into looking into International Starbucks Christmas latte offerings (also, if you want to go beyond Christmas, I got sidetracked/ jealous of their international not as seasonal drinks too). Luckily, wasting time was on my to-do list for that day so BIG checkmark in that box 😉 ).
When I eventually got myself back on track investigating St.Nicholas Day specific festiveness, I stumbled on this recipe which required making for the name alone. I mean “Slemp”? How can you not want to find out what that is? It’s basically a bunch of Christmasy spices (plus saffron, which I had a small bit left that I’ve been wanting to use up anyway, so it’s saffron for the win!) and some other delicious goodness all put into some cheesecloth (yeah! another reason to use up some of the big roll of cheesecloth that I bought a badgillion years ago and then never used again. So much recycling going on. I may have to rename this drink “Warmed up leftovers in a mug”….ummm….or maybe I won’t do that. That doesn’t quite have the appeal that I thought it would when it was just a twinkle of a sentence in my mind’s eye. Besides which, I’m sure this would cause an angry pitchfork wielding mob of Dutch Slemp purists to show up at my door demanding that I be put to death by wrapping me in cheesecloth and drowning me in a steaming bathtub of Slemp…..although this would be a situation where it would sound less ominous if they were to drown me in a bathtub of “warmed up leftovers”, so I suppose I’ve managed to find at least one situation where that’s the better name 😉 ).
This is mildly time consuming to make, but extremely minimal effort. It just needs to steep for awhile, so you can be a bad babysitter and do anything else while this simmers and steeps (although I highly recommend not leaving it on your stove while you go out for a dog sled run or drink yourself into a coma because that just seems dangerous. Plus, even bad babysitters want their financial reward at the end of the evening and, just like them, you definitely don’t want to miss out on your deliciously creamy spiced reward after all your “effort” 😉 ).
I don’t know how I had never heard of this drink before, but it will definitely be made by me again because it was pretty darn delicious (possibly I will follow tradition and just always make it on December 6th for St. Nicholas day. Mmmmm…celebration…glug glug). It’s thick, very mildly sweetened and brimming with the taste of Christmas cheer. Kevin, please get on the marketing campaign for this and maybe next year this can become the seasonal beverage of choice for coffee shops the world over (…particularly the one right by me…so..uh..get on that 😉 ).
Slightly adapted from this recipe
- Pinch of saffron
- 8 cloves
- 1 stick cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- peel from 1 lemon with pith removed (it’s easiest to just use a potato peeler to get long curls/peels)
- 4 cups almond milk (or other non-dairy milk)
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- Tie the herbs and lemon peel in a piece of cheesecloth and put in the almond milk.
- Scald and simmer for 30-60 minutes (depending how strong you want the flavour and how much time you have). Add the sugar.
- Dissolve the cornstarch in a little cold water and add to the hot mixture. Stir and cook 5 minutes more.
- Press the little bag with spices and lemone peel and remove.
- Pour into mugs and top with more freshly grated nutmeg and cinnamon if desired.