Hey guys, it’s Day Two of the 12 Days of Christmas Series, and like our Day 1 post of Springerle Cookies, today’s recipe I’ve wanted to make for a very long time but circumstance and procrastination got in the way and the stars never quite aligned and blah-blah-blah.
But this year, I cut the crap and finally did it.
And like the Springerle, I REALLY liked the results.
When I was little one of my favorite cookies used to be a certain one that would be in the Bulk Foods section of the grocery store. There’d be various nuts, candies and cookies in clear bins that you had to get out with tongs or scoops, weigh, then put in a clear bag and buy by the weight. These cookies would sometimes come in the shape of Windmills, other times (like at this time of year) they’d be in the shape of Gingerbread men and be sprinkled with coarse white sugar.
Didn’t matter what shape they came in. I loved em. Just loved ’em.
And guess what? I STILL DO.
I’m sure that there are some of you reading this that know exactly what cookies I’m talking about. I’m sure that there are some of you who share my love for them, but maybe like me, you spent over half your life loving them but not being able to quite identify what their exact name was.
Say no more, fam. I got you.
The name you’re looking for, are Speculaas. (Don’t worry, I had to Google it to learn how to pronounce it too. I also frequently misspell it, as I don’t speak Dutch).
And now, you get to find out how to make them from scratch at home.
And yes. It IS worth the effort. Trust me.
The recipe actually came out of the little booklet that came with my wooden molds I used to make my Springerle, as Speculaas are also a cookie dough that can stand up to printing very well. Some of the ingredients like brown sugar, cinnamon, mace and cloves I pretty much expected to be there. Others, like the orange rind and cocoa I was surprised were used and wondered how it would end up tasting. The combination of the ingredients just REALLY works though. Just wait til you can smell the dough.
Guys, it just SMELLS like Christmas. You’ll want to eat it raw right then and there.
But don’t do it! Be patient.
This dough was different from the Springerle in that, it needs a little more TLC. I’m pretty sure that the inclusion of the ground almonds is largely responsible for this, it does alter the texture so that they’re not going to be as ‘smooth’ as Springerle- or to be honest, as easy to roll out.
Don’t be afraid to smooth a few drops of water over the dough if it feels a little dry prior to rolling it out. It helps to keep it from cracking- and who needs cracking when you’re trying to get some lovely design across the top of these cookies, right?
I had three different designs for my Speculaas; the first came from my wood Christmas tree Springerle mold. The next two are actually some deep plastic cookie cutters that my grandma gave me when she got her kitchen remodeled and wanted to get rid of extra stuff she had sitting in the back of one of her cabinets; I decided to go with a Santa Clause face, and a drum since the dough seemed to get along the best with those shapes.
If there is one thing I absolutely must insist on before you bake these Speculaas (especially if you are trying to use ornate cookie molds/cutters) , it is that you DO NOT skip the step of chilling the cut and molded cookies in the fridge before you bake them. Seriously- just don’t do it. Chilling the cookies at this stage will ensure two things: one, that they don’t spread (one my HUGEST peeves in cookie baking) and two, that the deepness and intricacy of the design is preserved. The colder the dough is once it hits the hot oven, the more likely the design will stay exactly the way you want it to.
Now, for the verdict.
Well, I was VERY impressed with how well these baked up. Not single one spread on me, and the intricacy of the design on these Speculaas is probably some of the best I’ve ever had in baking cookies (along with the Springerle).
And taste-wise? Well, let me think about how I can put this…
These cookies- every single one you see in these pictures-are gone. Already.
Like…there are none left in my house. That’s how good they are. The spice blend is the MVP here; everything marries perfectly. The cookies do have a small ‘snap’ in the initial texture, but they’re still not crunchy with the recommended baking time. Although, if crunchy was what you were looking for, I can’t see why you couldn’t either roll the dough thinner or bake the cookies a few minutes longer.
However you decide to make ’em, just make ’em. Stat.
Recipe Courtesy of House on the Hill
- 3/4 cup softened butter, preferably unsalted
- 2 cups brown sugar (spooned, not packed)
- 1 egg
- 1 cup ground almonds
- 2 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp each of salt, cloves, ginger, cardamom and mace
- 2 tsp. cocoa
- grated rind of one orange
- 3 cups flour
- 4-6 tbsp. milk
Cream butter and brown sugar together; add egg, almonds, then salt and flavor ingredients and finally work in flours.
Add 4-6 tbsp. milk to make a stiff dough. Refrigerate 30-60 minutes. Roll dough out to 3/8″ to 1/2″ thick. If using wood molds, be sure to brush flour or powdered sugar into molds with a dry pastry brush. (I used powdered sugar)
Imprint cookie dough with mold or cookie cutters, then cut out. Whether you use wood molds or regular cookie cutters, I recommend flouring or dusting with powdered sugar for every time you cut them out.
Carefully place the cookies onto a parchment lined cookie sheet. Refrigerate for one hour. (Yes. One hour. It helps them to hold their design and not spread.)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Allow to set on cookie sheet for 30 seconds, then remove to wire racks.