Speculaas cookies are delicious, crisp cookies made with speculaas spices and dark brown sugar. They are a real treat and the perfect cookie to make with kids.
These cookies are eaten all year round, but in the Netherlands, from mid-November until Sinterklaas eve on December 5th, you find these cookies along with pepernoten and other yummy treats everywhere.
The history of speculaas
In the mid-17th century, the VOC acquired a monopoly on the trade in cloves, mace, and nutmeg from the Portuguese. Amsterdam became the most important storage site for spices from around the world, and from its warehouses, the spices were distributed throughout the rest of Europe.
Many cookbooks from that time say that you can only get certain spices from the Netherlands. This remained that way until a Frenchman managed to grab some cuttings from a nutmeg tree 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 spice mix. Because since the 17th century, more and more spices arrived in the Netherlands, the price dropped, and more people could afford to buy them.
It is, therefore, not surprising that bakers started to experiment with them in their baking, and you start to see more recipes for cookies and cakes that contain them. Every baker at that time, and to this day, had their own secret spice mix.
Not surprising that the first recipes and paintings with speculaas and pepernoten originate from this period.
- Speculaas spices – A spice mix with spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, and pepper to make speculaas and pepernoten.
- Brown sugar – This is an essential ingredient. It is best to use dark brown sugar, but regular brown sugar will work if that is what you have.
- Butter – I like to use unsalted butter and add the salt later.
- You can use your dough straight away or after an hour in the fridge, BUT if you leave your dough in the fridge for a day or two, the flavor becomes much richer.
- Every recipe for speculaas spices is different, and that’s ok! You can tweak the recipe to your taste!
- If you want to make the traditional windmill shape or if you want to use a speculaas board, your dough should be cold to prevent the cookies from running in the oven.
- 300g (about 2 cups) flour
- 170g (6 oz) butter
- 180g (1 cup) brown sugar
- 3 tablespoon speculaas spices
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 -2 tablespoon 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 in a preheated oven at 175°C or 350°F.
- 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: 35gNet Carbohydrates: 0gFiber: 1gSugar: 15gSugar Alcohols: 0gProtein: 3g