Thursday, June 18, 2015


Every time I try and explain hagelslag to my friends who have never tasted it before, there's a great misunderstanding.  This misunderstanding comes from the idea that hagelslag and cheap candy sprinkles are the same thing.  Before I even start this article I want to explain one thing, they are two very different things.  A good quality hagelslag may look like sprinkles, but they're much more chocolaty, and much softer.  This is important because if you were to put sprinkles on toast with butter, sprinkles don't melt, however hagelslag does.  Hagelslag also adds a chocolaty flavour to the butter and toast, where as cheap sprinkles do not.

For the experiment today I've tasted 5 different varieties of hagelslag mady by De Ruyter.  The hagelslag purists will probably argue that only two of the varities I'm tasting today are real hagelslag, however I'm curious about how this treat can be expanded. To taste test each variety I took two slices of bread cut into 6 sections.  One of the slices had been toasted, while the other had not.  I'd put butter on each section, and then quickly added a generous sprinkle of hagel.  I'd also left one piece on each slice with just plain butter, mostly because I only had 5 varieties of hagel to choose from.
The first variety of hagelslag that I sampled was the Melk (or milk chocolate) variety.  If you ask any hagelslag purist, this is really the way to go.  I would tend to agree, as you'll see by the end of this article.  This is a pretty safe place to put the bar when it comes to hagelslag, as it's tasty, and it melts just perfectly on the toasted bread.  I will say that when you compare the toasted bread to the non-toasted bread, toasting is a great improvement.  I'm not sure how the purist stand on this subject, but I don't think I'll be eating much more hagelslag on un-toasted bread in the future.
The next variety I sampled was the Puur (or dark chocolate) variety.  Now you can see from the photo that these hagelslags (?) are much darker than the milk chocolate variety.  Unfortunately this is about the only difference I could really taste.  I was so convinced that there was no difference that I decided to taste test the Melk and Puur hagelslag without the bread, to see if I could find any difference.  As it turns out there is a subtle difference between the two, however with the butter and bread this difference doesn't come through at all.  I will say that I don't dislike the Puur hagelslag, however it's a little disappointing that it's so similar to its cousin.  A nice dark chocolate flavour probably would have worked very well with salty butter and crunchy toast.
The next hagelslag that I sampled was not so much sprinkles as curls of chocolate.  One would think that as a chocolate fan I would have enjoyed this even more, but strangely I didn't.  I found that the quality of the chocolate wasn't that great, it's not bad, but it didn't seem to melt that much on the toasted bread.  Melted chocolate on toasted bread sounds like a great idea, unfortunately this doesn't deliver.  Because it's just curled chocolate, it also doesn't have the same novelty as the traditional hagelslag either.  The chocolate quality just didn't deliver, and the novelty wasn't that impressive.  I think I may save a few of these and put it on the next chocolate sundae I make for myself instead.
Much like the dark chocolate traditional hagelslag, these dark chocolate curls were also a disappointment.  They had a very subtle difference in flavour from their milk chocolate cousins, but again with the toast and butter this difference was totally lost.  I think De Ruyter could have gone for a really dark bitter chocolate instead and that would have worked so well.  I imagine that this dark chocolate is probably in the 50% area at best, where I think a 80% cocoa chocolate would have done wonders.  This also suffered from the same problems as the milk chocolate curls in that they didn't really melt that much on the toast.
This is probably the point of the article where I'm going to lose a whole bunch of you.  Of the five different kinds of hagelslag that I sampled for this article, this was probably my second favorite.  While the chocolate curls, and the dark chocolate hagelslag disappointed me, this didn't.  It surprised me in so many ways that I was actually pretty impressed.  First of all the flavour took me back to my childhood, and that's because these tasted exactly like Fruity Pebbles cereal.  Secondly the creativity to make fruit flavoured hagelslag is pretty daring and out of the box.  Finally the texture and flavour worked really well, particularly on the toasted bread.  I'm sure after writing this I'll never be allowed in the Netherlands again, but what can I say, I love fruity treats.

Hagelslag is probably the least known, and under appreciated treat to come out of the Netherlands.  I'm not really sure why we don't see hagelslag on every store shelf around the world.  It could be because of the deluge of cheap sprinkles sold all over the world, or it could be that the Dutch just don't want to share.


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