Wintery Dutch spiced cookies, perfect with a cup of tea or coffee, or on a cold winter evening with hot chocolate.
Traditionally these spiced biscuits were only available around sinterklaas, the warming spices make these cookies perfect for winter and cold weather. Speculaas comes in different forms: shaped cookies, thick chunks and dolls. The shaped cookies are quite small, flat and are available the whole year. They are made by pressing the dough in special wooden moulds (available in different shapes) dusted with flour, scraping the excess off and tapping the cookie out onto a baking sheet. The thick chunks and dolls are only available around sinterklaas. The chunks are made by baking large sheets of speculaas dough and breaking them up into chunks. And the dolls are made the same way as the small cookies, but the moulds are larger, so the cookie is taller and thicker. They come in several sizes, from quite small to very large… I’ve seen dolls that were almost 1 meter tall!
I chose to give you a recipe for speculaas chunks, because this is my favourite form of speculaas, but it is also the easiest way when you don’t have a special wooden moulds (in the Netherlands they are available from cooking shops and online). If you do want to use a mould, reduce the baking temperature to 150C and bake the cookies 20 minutes. Optionally you can decorate the chunks with shaved, halved or whole almonds before baking.
175 g butter
250 g brown sugar
350 g flour
2 tbsp milk
1 tsp baking powder
a pinch of salt
15 gram speculaas spices
Cream butter and sugar.
Add the rest of the ingredients and knead to a smooth dough. Make sure you don’t overwork it, when it is mixed it is ready.
Flatten into a disk, wrap in cling film and leave to rest in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
Grease a 20×20 cm square baking tin and preheat the oven to 160C.
Flatten the dough further until it is the size of the baking tin, place in the tin and bake for 45-60 minutes.
Leave to cool completely before taking out of the tin.
Before serving, break the speculaas into chunks.
Notes: If you don’t have speculaas spices you can use mixed spice (UK) or apple/pumkin pie spice (USA) or even something like chai or gluhwein spices. Alternatively you can make speculaas spices yourself by mixing ground spices yourself: 40 g cinnamon, 10 g nutmeg, 5 g coriander, 5 g cloves, 5 g ginger and 5 g cardamom.