No matter how hard I try to resist the temptation of pepernoten and all the other Sinterklaas delicacies I always give in around the mid-November. Speculaas, in particular, I can never ignore, especially when it is fresh from the oven and my whole house smells like speculaas spices.
Speculaas is a biscuit that is eaten a lot in the Netherlands, as well as chocolate letters, pepernoten and banket letters, around Sinterklaas. This cookie is also very popular in Germany. In Belgium, they have a similar cookie, speculoos, but contrary to what many people think this is not the same as speculaas. Speculoos or biscoff as the American call them, contain less or even no spices.
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In the mid-17th century, the VOC acquired a monopoly on the trade in cloves, mace and nutmeg from the Portuguese. Amsterdam became THE storage site for spices and from its warehouses, the spices were spread throughout Europe. Many cookbooks from that time describe that you can only get the spices through the Netherlands. This remained this way until a Frenchman managed to grab some cuttings in 1770 and smuggle them to Mauritius. It took some time before these cuttings really produced something, but at the beginning of the 19th century, the monopoly of the Netherlands was eventually broken.
Many of these spices form the basis for the speculaas spices. Because since the 17th century more and more spices arrived in the Netherlands, the price dropped and more and more people could afford to buy them. It is therefore not surprising that bakers started to experiment with spices in their baking. Every baker at that time, and to this day, had his own secret recipe for speculaas spices. The first recipes and paintings with speculaas and pepernoten originate from this period.
Bakers used special boards to make speculaas. These were made out of the wood of fruit trees. Unfortunately, I don’t have one but luckily the speculaas chunks I made are just as good! I did find some awesome cookie rolling pins you could use!
This type of speculaas is made from the same dough as the regular windmill shaped speculaasjes. You can use the dough for speculaas straightaway or after an hour in the fridge, but it’s best if you let the dough rest for a day.
PS: It’s also great fun to make pepernoten or speculaas with children! They will LOVE it.
- 300g (about 2 cups) flour
- 90g (6 tbsp) butter
- 180g (1 cup) brown sugar
- 3 tbsp speculaas spices
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 -2 tbsp milk or water, cold
- 1 egg, beaten
- Optional: a few whole almonds for decoration
- Add the butter, milk, flour, baking powder, speculaas spices and sugar to a bowl and cut the butter with two knives into a crumbly mixture.
- Work the dough by hand into a firm dough, wrap it in cling film and put it in the fridge for at least an hour. You can use the dough immediately but the taste is better if you let the dough rest.
- Roll out the dough to a thickness of about 1 cm.
- Brush a little bit of the egg over the speculaas and decorate with the almonds.
- Give the speculaas another egg wash and bake for about 30 minutes.
- Let the speculaas cool and break into chunks.
I also have a post for speculaas spice mix!
You can use this recipe to make speculaas chucks or make some traditional windmill shaped cookies using a cookie cutter.
Children LOVE to make speculaas.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 214Total Fat: 7gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 32mgSodium: 103mgCarbohydrates: 35gFiber: 1gSugar: 15gProtein: 3g
Did you make something from this blog? I would love to see your creations! Leave a comment below and share your pictures on Instagram #nutmegandvinegar or tag me @nutmegvinegar in your message.