Apparently, while I’ve been quietly living in Poland, Americans have been going nuts for speculoos! It’s the new Nutella! There’s a national shortage, headlines read, “speculoos spread is crack in a jar” I’m lucky to have friends and family that give me an education in food. I hope you have those people around you too. I first learned about speculoos when we visited Belgium over the summer. My brother directed us to a bakery famous for their speculoos; he’s helping me make up for my lack of pop culture exposure back home with a trip to the source.
A recent coffee morning with my friend from the Netherlands, Debbie, led to a discussion about the Dutch version of this spice combination, speculaas. It’s used to make butter cookies that are similar to gingerbread. Debbie was kind enough to include a jar of speculaas in the Dutch goodies she brought me after her holiday at home. I can relate to the crack in a jar comment. The container sat on our counter for a few days before I got around to baking with it, and multiple times a days, I would walk by and take a whiff. The aroma is heavenly. If someone hasn’t turned this into a potpourri scent, they should.
Traditionally speculoos cookies are molded into intricate shapes. I plan to be doing some of these in the future. I’ve picked up some Polish piernik molds and bought a large speculaas mold while shopping in the arts and antique district in Amsterdam last week.
For now, I made some simple speculaas cookies, just rounds pressed with a water glass dipped in sugar and decorated with a few almond slices. The fragrant cookies were delicious and a little softer and chewier than the crisp verison of speculaas. This recipe comes from Joy of Baking and would make a great addition to your holiday cookie tray!
- 1½ cups flour (195 g)
- ½ cup almond flour or meal (45 g)
- 1⅓ teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- (or substitute 1¾ teaspoons speculaas if you have it for all the spices)
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup butter (113 g)
- ¾ cup firmly packed brown sugar (160 g)
- 1 large egg
- finely grated zest of 1 lemon
- 1 cup sliced almonds, (80 g)
- Combine the flours, baking powder, spices and salt and set aside
- In a separate bowl, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes
- Add the egg and lemon zest
- Add the flour mixture mixing until combined
- Flatten the dough and wrap tightly in plastic wrap
- Chill for at least one hour
- Preheat oven to 350 F (175 C)
- Line baking sheets with parchment paper
- Roll the dough into 1 inch (2.5 cm) balls and place on lined baking sheets
- Press each ball with the bottom of a glass dipped in sugar, until ¼ inch thick (just over ½ cm) and sprinkle with sliced almonds
- Bake for 10 to 12 minutes