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.