I am perpetrating a bit of a fraud by bringing you these cookies, today. First of all, speculaas cookies (or Dutch windmill cookies, if you will) are traditionally served on the eve of the feast of St. Nicholas, December 5th. Luckily, you can find them all year long nowadays, so my sin is not in bringing them to you so late, but rather in bringing them to you as a cutout cookie. The very word, speculaas, comes from the Latin word speculum, which means mirror---and these cookies are always made with designs imprinted on them, usually from a speculaas mold (my father always made windmill shaped cookies with his molds). Alas, I had no molds. First, I procrastinated about ordering one, and then I found out that my sister had one of my father's molds still in her possession....unfortunately the one she had didn't work out for me. It was too big and it didn't leave an impression in the dough. It does make a nice keepsake, though!
I researched for awhile to come up with the actual recipe for my speculaas, the spices being the key ingredient. So, while I will share the recipe here today, I will be back when I actually have the speculaas mold and I will give an update. In fact, I'll save the whole story about the Dutch St. Nicholas for next year. In the mean time, these cookies are too good to pass up!
1 cup unsalted butter, softened2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup white sugar
1/1/4 cups dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
3 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 1/2 tablespoons speculaas spice*
1 teaspoon kosher salt
* Speculaas spice:
8 parts cinnamon
2 parts nutmeg
2 parts ground cloves
1 part white pepper
1 part ground ginger
1 part cardamom
This combination of spices can be found in recipes dating back to the fifteenth century
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Cream butter, vanilla, and both kinds of sugar until light and fluffy. Add both eggs and blend well.
Whisk all of the dry ingredients together and slowly add to the butter mixture, combining until the dough pulls from the side of the bowl. Divide the dough in half. Wrap each half in plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours or overnight. I actually kept the dough in the fridge for several days.
Roll out dough to 1/4" or 1/8" thick and cut with cookie cutters. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes.
The taste of these cookies are spot on. They should be thin and crisp and very spicy. Enjoy them any time of the year---you have my permission!
Update December 2011: This is the actual mold my father used (big thanks to my sister-in-law)! Now I just need the courage to try it out. I may have to modify the recipe a bit, in order for them to turn out right. I'll post when and if they turn out. :)