February 08, 2010

Speculoos


Ingredients:
1 3/4 cups flour
3/4 cup dark brown or dark Candi sugar
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1 egg, at room temperature
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon allspice

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350. Whisk together the dry (except sugar) ingredients in a medium bowl. Set aside. Cream together the sugar and butter. Beat in the egg. Slowly mix in the dry ingredients until well combined. It will be rather thick. Roll out on a clean surface to a little less than 1/4 inch thick. Use speculoos molds to press into shapes, a speculoos pan, use cookie cutters or just cut into squares. Alternatively, press into a cookie sheet with shaped cavities. Bake for 15 minutes or until the cookies are browned but still slightly soft in the center. Cool on wire racks.

My thoughts:
When we were in Belgium, we knew we had to check out what is possibly Belgium's favorite cookie, speculoos. Speculoos is a crisp, spice cookie somewhat similar to gingerbread. When I mention speculoos to anyone locally I am normally met with a blank stare but they actually are available here under a different name; if you have ever had a packaged Biscoff cookie, they are actually speculoos packaged for the non Belgian population by a Belgian company.

Especially when we were in Bruges, speculoos cookies were at every bakery and some specialty baking shops that traditional speculoos molds to make the cookies at home. There was even speculoos spread (think Nutella but made with cookies!) in both chunky and smooth textures at every grocery store. We brought back a couple of cookie molds, a jar of the spread, some of the special sugar they use in the cookies and some speculoos from a bakery in Bruges so I could orally deduce the ingredients. A note about the sugar:  you can use regular dark brown sugar but as we learned upon arriving home, Candi sugar is used in home beer making so it is actually fairly easy to locate online or in brew shops. It it is a little moister and darker than the brown sugars sold here in the US.

Traditionally, speculoos is more of a Christmas or St. Nicholas Day treat but well, we are trapped here in a blizzard in Baltimore and I think that is as good excuse as any. For these cookies, I used our speculoos molds and this Wilton 12 cavity cookie pan (which is the closest thing to a speculoos molded cookie sheet that I've seen here in the US) but you could simply cut them into squares, rounds or use a cookie cutter in any shape you'd like.


17 comments:

  1. These sound like a close cousin to one of my favorites cookies, Swedish pepparkakor! Your speculoos look much thicker than pepparkakor, but the spices are similar.

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  2. Lindsay
    Those cookies sound great! The cookies in the picture are a bit thicker than the cookies we had in Belgium, I used the (deeper) cookie mold pan rather than the speculoos mold since it was heart shaped and Valentine's Day is this weekend.

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  3. Oh,I love Speculaas! (I think it's the same thing as these Belgian cookies you've made) My hubby's family is Dutch and we get a small bag of these every Christmas that we eat sparingly for months till they've gone stale!
    Did you love Brugges? I can't believe such places exist. Heart-stoppingly beautiful.

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  4. Monika
    Speculaas is pretty much the same thing, with minor regional differences I think. Bruges was very pretty but we actually loved Brussels even more. I wish we could go back right now!

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  5. Biscoffs, as in what you get on airplanes? I LOVE THOSE. I buy boxes of them at Wal-Greens. Yay! Now I can make my own...

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  6. The cookies are called Speculaas in Holland, not Speculoos. Here we know Speculoos as a new sweet sandwich spread that tastes like Speculaas.

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  7. That's right, Mitzi. In Belgium the cookies are called speculoos and that spread is Belgian and thus called speculoos because it is made with speculoos!

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  8. That's right, Mitzi. In Belgium the cookies are called speculoos and that spread is Belgian and thus called speculoos because it is made with speculoos!

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  9. I know them from Germany, where they are called Spekulatius. My grandmother used to make them for Christmas but her version was very thin.

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  10. These are one of my favorite kinds of cookies - I love those spices. Yum.

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  11. These little guys look totally cute.. can't wait to try them. Love the site-- your pictures are fantastic.

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  12. I was just recently wondering about these cookies and had bookmarked a recipe to make around Christmas. Of course, you were thinking about them as well - no surprise. But.. I had no idea that they were the same as Biscoff! I love biscoff! It's the best airplane snack! Now I am even more excited to try making them!

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  13. I've seen Biscoff cookies in Harris Teeter but didn't know what they were.
    Trader Joe's is selling a speculoss spread (I guess it's a spread)..it's next to the nutella in my store.

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  14. Rachel, thank you for sharing this recipe – I was hoping to recreate the amazing Biscoff cookies and without your post I would not know where to start. That being said, I just baked a batch and can detect only a minor resemblance. The only alterations to the recipe I made were cutting down on the non-cinnamon spices and replacing a third of the brown sugar with regular sugar. In hindsight, I think adding some salt might be good. The cookies came out fine, but they are just your usual butter cookies with lots of spices added to the mix. Which, of course, is exactly what they are given the ingredients. But there is a component to the flavor that is missing. Biscoff cookies have this flavor I cannot quite describe. Somewhat acrid or salty perhaps. I bake a cake whose dough layers taste a bit like that. The dough is mixed in a double boiler before being rolled out into thin layers and baked, and ingredients include baking soda, a tbs of honey and a couple tbs of alcohol. I doubt it is honey that creates that flavor and Biscoff website does not list alcohol as one of the ingredients in their cookies. So I wonder if it is baking soda(perhaps I need to include more of it instead of half a spoon of baking powder?) or the double boiler part of the process… Any ideas? Thanks very much! ;)

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    Replies
    1. Honestly, the spices and sugar are what make the cookie. I would not change that aspect at all and expect it to taste like the cookie. These cookies, when made properly taste just like the ones I ate in Belgium.

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