Monday, December 21, 2009

Speculaas



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!

Speculaas

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 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. :)




30 comments:

  1. these look so good I can almost smell all those wonderful spices! and what an awesome mold. too bad it didn't work for your speculaas.

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  2. These cookies must be something awesome. I've never had them but that spice combo is a winner to be sure.

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  3. I'll try these this weekend since 'Sinterklaas' festivities are on Sunday in the Netherlands (Dec 5)

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  4. I'll try these this weekend since 'Sinterklaas' festivities are this Sunday (Dec 5)

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  5. Joyce--I'm going to make them this weekend, too! I just got the windmill mold in the mail last week--I can't wait to try it out!

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    Replies
    1. Hi Joyce. I would love to have the recipe used to make the filled speculars along with the almond filling my e mail is lynayotte@yohoo.com. Thank you so much for your time
      This is my first on this blog

      Delete
  6. Hi
    I'd love to give your recipe a go this weekend as I have been researching all the different versions out there on the internet and this looks the best. Can you please tell me if I was to covert the 'parts' of your ‘Speculaas spice’ into a measurement could I use a teaspoon per part or perhaps ½ teaspoon per part would that work?

    Thank you!!
    8 parts cinnamon
    2 parts nutmeg
    2 parts ground cloves
    1 part white pepper
    1 part ground ginger
    1 part cardamom

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  7. Vonnie--I use a teaspoon per part. I then have leftover spice to use again or for another recipe. Please let me know how the cookies turn out. I love the taste of these, but have yet to get them to turn out in a speculaas mold. :) I'll continue to make them with a cookie cutter for now.

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    Replies
    1. Hi, although the cookies are not bad, I'm Dutch, the filled Speculaas and the Harde brokken speculaas are much more my taste. The filled one is filled with a kind of coarse Marzipan called Spijs, the Harde brokken are thick pieces of Speculaas (with some more sugar in it) baked in one piece and later when it has cooled, broken up in pieces. When you would like the recipes, just give me an email.

      Like your Blog :))

      Danuta

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    2. Grany W - I'd be interested in the recipe for Harde brokken speculaas if you are interested in sending to an individual and not a blog. I bought some of each from a Dutch Bakery in Michigan USA. Both were good but I liked the large one to break up better. I want to make some for a friend even though it is past Christmas already. Thanks or perhaps Dank would be more appropriate.
      Jim Jim@JGD7.com

      Delete
  8. Hi,
    Made your speculaas recipe, the spice mix is spot-on. I am a Dutch national living in Malaysia, I am also a retired chef and have not made this recipe since I was in school, Too(ooo) long ago.
    I think for those of you who never made this recipe before, mind that the dough is a bit of a sticky affair, I made it in a foodprocesser and that works fine, by hand it is quite an excercise, the amount of flour may vary however based on where you are and maybe also the quality and the other ingredients, I used dark cane sugar and needed more flour, so stick to the advise that the dough has to come of the edge of the bowl you mix it in.

    Chill overnight and you get a rockhard result, is ok, leave it at room temperature for an hour or so and the dough becomes very easy to use.

    Test your cooking time as the sugar in the dough melts and hardens again after cooling of so do not look at the colour too much, the cookies should be crunchy not hard.

    As I also do not have a mould (should look for one in Mallaca) I rolled by hand and used a cookie cutter, works fine.

    Hope to see some more feedback

    Regards
    Marinus

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  9. Just made these awesome cookies.
    I was looking to make these because the imported windmill cookies are always really expensive where I am. (New Zealand)
    They turned out great. I did make a boo boo at the beginning.
    I halved the butter and forgot to half the rest of the ingredients. I just added more butter later and it was fine.
    I used cookie cutter/molds and the details showed, but did get stuck in the molds quite often, so I used cutters for the rest.
    It made soooooo many cookies, I will have to give most away. 77 to be exact. Will definitely half the recipe next time.
    Thank you so much for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oil the cookie mold blot out with paper towel And flour mold every so often .I have a different recipe and had aproblen with the dough sticking in the wooden mold and when I kept the mold floured it finally workedso much better then the store I will always make them from scratch now!

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    2. This might be the year that I'm brave enough to try it out. Did your recipe have the baking soda? I think that's what might make them too puffy to take on the shape...although I also think it also helps make them nice and crispy.

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    3. I have made these every year since I can remember. My Grandpa was from Holland and always talked about them. I do have the molds and as long as you oil first, then wipe out with a towel, then flour EACH time, they come out of the mold very well. What I struggled with, was that they lose the detail when they are baked. The buter melts and they spread. I found in a Martha Stewart book that they pressed in the mold and removed as I had, but then put the cookies in the freezer for about an hour. When they are baked the details remain. I got my molds in Holland Michigan at the Dutch Villiage. They also carry a beautiful aray of molds (many from antique molds) from a co. called House on the hill.


      Delete
  10. If you are still looking for cookie molds you can find them at hobie cookie molds(www.cookiemold.com) on the internet.Gene Wilson carves them in belleville Illinois,also on houseonthehill.net there are a couple of windmill molds on the last two pages of the cookie molds.

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  11. I don't oil the speculaasplank. I make up the dough and let it set and cool for roughly 24 hours in the fridge. Then I get out the plank and dust it with rice flower. Rice flower is a very fine powder and doesn't distort the detail. Then I press the dough in the plank and trim it with a table knife. I use a silver plate table knife that has a fairly fine edge. After this, I work around the bottom of the cookies with the knife to loosen them up, turn the plank upside down and whack it a time or two and the cookies then fall out on the table. Then I pick them up on a spatula and place on a cookie sheet. Bake for about 10 minutes at 350 and out they come. My biggest problem is getting the almonds chopped up fine enough. For the small 2" cookies, they don't work very well, but for my large 10" cookies, it's not a problem.

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  12. The rice flour may be the tip. I will be trying this in Dec this year. My grandparents were from Holland and I have my grandmother's recipe. I need to see how similar this is to yours. I bought presses two years ago but failed to get the detail. The oil then flour suggested online also gummed up the press. They tasted great though. I recall that my grandmother would place finely sliced almonds across the backside of the cookie while in the press.

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  13. AnonymousDecember 29, 2011 at 2:56 AM
    Hi,
    Made your speculaas recipe, the spice mix is spot-on. I am a Dutch national living in Malaysia, I am also a retired chef and have not made this recipe since I was in school, Too(ooo) long ago.
    I think for those of you who never made this recipe before, mind that the dough is a bit of a sticky affair, I made it in a foodprocesser and that works fine, by hand it is quite an excercise, the amount of flour may vary however based on where you are and maybe also the quality and the other ingredients, I used dark cane sugar and needed more flour, so stick to the advise that the dough has to come of the edge of the bowl you mix it in.

    Chill overnight and you get a rockhard result, is ok, leave it at room temperature for an hour or so and the dough becomes very easy to use.

    Test your cooking time as the sugar in the dough melts and hardens again after cooling of so do not look at the colour too much, the cookies should be crunchy not hard.

    As I also do not have a mould (should look for one in Mallaca) I rolled by hand and used a cookie cutter, works fine.

    Hope to see some more feedback

    Regards
    Marinus

    Reply

    ReplyDelete
  14. Amazing recipe ! Highly recommend trying it !!! Thank you :)

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  15. Hi,

    What do you mean by parts? Does that mean a teaspoon of each spoon? Such as 8 teaspoons of the cinnamon, etc. Would like to try these out soon.

    Thanks,
    Sara

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Sara--I use a teaspoon per "part" and then I have some of the mixture left over to use again or for other things. So, yes..8 teaspoons of cinnamon, etc...

      I'd love to hear how they turn out for you. :)

      Delete
  16. Hi Cathy, my cookies came out yummy and crispy but lost their shape and spread like crazy while baking (even though they had been in the freezer for a couple of days)... any idea why that might be? I noticed dear Martha (Stewart) bakes hers for close to an hour at 225 - but she's not Dutch so I'm skeptical! Thank you much for the recipe :) the spice mix is delicious!

    Vrolijk Kerstfeest!
    Valeria

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    Replies
    1. Hi Valeria,

      Without seeing exactly how you are making the cookies, I'm not sure what went wrong. It could be that there is too much moisture in the dough...perhaps adding a bit more flour may help.

      Delete
  17. Hi,
    i am an Australian living in Swaziland for 2 years as a volunteer. i will be making your speculaas biscuit recipe as they are my favourite and only biscuit that i buy when home. i cannot find them here, so will have to make my own and maybe sell them !!!!

    while i am talking on this blog - i would like to find a recipe i had many years for a dutch cake. it had a pastry base, covered wit a thin spread of a tangy jam, then with a very spicy cake. it was topped with a very thin spread of a lemon icing. it was to die for. It was given to me by a dutch friend many years ago i showed it to another dutch lady who decided to take it with her. if anyone knows of this i would love to have the recipe again.

    many thanks,
    Georgina.

    p.s. My Mother was Dutch but not a traditional cook.

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  18. I made these today, I added star anise and allspice to the spice mix though as they are in my Father's speculaas spice mix. They are really good.
    Also a Dutch Baker's daughter.

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  19. I wonder if you would consider contributing this recipe to the Global Recipe Project? It's for a good cause! More details are available at http://crowdedearthkitchen.com/global-recipe-project/

    ReplyDelete