Hagel - A Dutch Speciality

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Hagel or Hagelslag is a Dutch bread topping. It is like English 'hundreds-and thousands' but has many variations. The basic form of hagel is small, sugary, cylindrical particles. But hagel is used to refer to any topping which can be sprinkled like this1. And some are as different as large flakes of chocolate.Hagel goes back hundreds of years. In the Netherlands many supermarkets have their own brand of standard hagel, but the largest hagel brand is undoubtedly 'De Ruijter' - the rider, a common family name. This company was founded in 1860 and now has many variations of hagel on the shelves.Hagel is mostly served with butter on beschuit - small round toasts often sold in Britain as 'Dutch Toasts'. These are crunchy and not as flavoursome as normal bread. This enables you to taste the hagel, whose taste would be almost drowned out by wholemeal bread. Because these toasts are quite small, you can often eat them as a sweet finish to lunch.Hagel can have a key position in Dutch culture at the birth of a child. If a baby is born then the mother and father will be expected to provide any visitors with muisjes, literally - mice. These are small aniseed flavoured balls in two colours. Though orginally these only came in pink and white, now there is also blue and white. If you have a son then you are expected to present blue and white muisjes and if you have a daughter you should have pink and white ones. If there is already a child in the family they can take muisjes and beschuit to school or créche. So, as long as there are children being born in Holland there will be some need for hagel.

Common Types of Hagel

Here are some of the more common kinds of hagel.
  • Chocoladehagel - This is chocolate flavoured hagel and comes in both white and milk chocolate forms. As well as amix of the two.
  • Vruchten or Fruit Hagel - This is called 'fruit' hagel but doesn't actually taste of fruits as such. It is a simple mix of orange, yellow and pink colured hagel which is sugary as opposed to chocolate.
  • Muisjes - As mentioned before these are small aniseed flavoured balls.
  • Gestampte Muisjes - This means literally 'squashed mice' and is an aniseed flavoured powder.
  • Chocolade Vlokken - Flakes of chocolate, as before in milk, white and mix.
1Coming from Hagel which also means 'Hail'

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