Have you started Christmas baking? I started my baking for the holiday season starting with this speculoos, in Dutch it is Speculaas and in German it is called Spekulatius. It is spiced shortbread cookies usually baked during or just before St Nicholas’ feast in the Netherlands (December 5), Belgium (December 6), and around Christmas in Germany. It is also available all around the year. Christmas means some special cookies and special spices.
How was your last week, mine turned out be eventful one especially the Wednesday. Since the weather was good, I thought I will keep my plants outside which I usually keep in the garage during the cold days. After picking my son from his play school I parked the car in the garage. I was keeping my plants outside, while I am doing this, my son got hold of garage opener remote and started closing the garage. I got panicked and tried to stop it from closing. I couldn’t stop the garage door from closing and it resulted in my son getting trapped in house and I was outside. I went to ask help from one of my neighbors, they took some time to open the door. I was crying hysterically. In the mean time another neighbor saw my distress and came by and tried to open the garage door, but nothing worked. We have made our house into a fortress due to security purpose, and hence impossible to open the front door without key. I heard my son crying for some time, and then after that no crying sound. My next door neighbor called police and in the mean time the neighbor who came to help me asked me can if he can break the window. I told him to do it. He broke the window and when I came inside the house through the window, I saw my son crying and looking for mama in upstairs.
In the mean time within 5 minutes, the police and fire brigade came by since a child was involved. They knocked the door and when I opened the door with my son in my hand they asked me everything is fine. I told them he is fine, only that he took my breath away for second. They left after making sure my son was fine. I called my husband and told him to leave the job early. In the mean time I called window repair service and arrange to fix the window. Finally after 1 ½ hour both husband (he has an hour drive from work to home) and window repair guy came by and a couple of hours later the window was fixed. I again gone out to pick my daughter from the school and told her the story of what her brother did. When I asked him what did you do? He told me baby closed the door. And next word was baby cried and laughing. What can I say I just kissed him thinking that nothing serious has happened. Every day is teaching me something new.
Coming back to Speculoos, they are thin, very crunchy, slightly browned and, most significantly, have some image or figure (often from the traditional stories about St. Nicholas) stamped on the front side before baking; the back is flat. Speculoos dough does not rise much. Dutch and Belgian versions are baked with light brown (beet) sugar and baking powder. German Spekulatius uses baker’s ammonia as leavening agent. Spices used in speculoos are cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, cardamom, mace, coriander and white pepper. Dutch version is more spiced where as Belgian varieties use less or no spice. Most Speculoos versions are made from white flour, brown sugar, butter and spices. To make the dough, butter, sugar and spices are combined. The flour and leavening agent are mixed separately and then added. The dough is stored in refrigerator overnight to give the spices time to permeate the dough and add extra flavor.
I used Bouchon bakery recipe for making the dough however add speculass spices form Geverlade speculaas which I tried earlier.
Since I don’t have typical Dutch speculass mold or molded rolling pin I used my star, Christmas tree and snow flake cookie cutter. You need to prepare a day ahead this dough and chill the dough in refrigerator. Next day, take out the dough and press it into thin sheet and cut it into your favorite cookie cutter. Chill them for 5 minutes before baking them. Bake at preheated oven at 325⁰F for 17 minutes or until brown.
They are really delicious my kiddos liked it very well. Give it try easy one.