Sunday, 4 June 2017


Last December we were really lucky to go on a free trip to Amsterdam thanks to a prize that I won at work. We went around St Nicholas Day, a festival to mark the arrival of Sinterklass (Santa Claus!) and all over the capital you could see traditional Speculaas biscuits being baked and sold as part of the celebrations. I adored them so and I vouched to try and recreate them when I got home. 6 months later, I finally got round to doing just that. I'll be honest, they weren't exactly the same but I still think they are still super special!

If you love gingerbread, think of that but imagine them slightly more fragrant with hints of cardamon and nutmeg and this is what you get with my speculaas (otherwise known as speculoos). They are not soft and chewy like a cookie but have more of a snap to them which makes them perfect tea dunking material. I've used molasses which I don't think is traditionally used when making speculaas when I've looked around for inspiration but I like the sticky, intense sweetness they bring to the party. If you don't want to use molasses you can always replace it with some more light brown sugar. Cardamon and nutmeg can be quite strong flavors and I know that they are not everyone's cup of tea so if you want to leave them out of the recipe then feel free to do so. The biscuits will still taste delicious they will just veer more over to the side of gingerbread than my version below does. 

The speculaas I enjoyed in Amsterdam had these beautiful little patterns baked into them which you can achieve by using molds or a special rolling pin. If you have these then great; use them. I did not have these and so I just kept things interesting by using different shaped cookie cutters to make the biscuits all different fun shapes. As long as you keep the dough about 1/2 inch thick you can do whatever you like to the dough really. Experiment and have fun, it's a great way to keep kids involved and entertained on a rainy day. My recipe below will make around 24-30 biscuits depending how big you cut out the biscuits and make sure you have space in your fridge to fit baking trays in so that you can cool the biscuit dough after you have cut out the shapes;

Spiced Speculaas Biscuits

120g Softened Butter
75g Molasses
165g Light Brown Sugar
1/2 Tsp Bicarbonate Of Soda
1/2 Tsp Salt
3 Tsp Ground Cinnamon
1/2 Tsp Grated Nutmeg
1/2 Tsp Ground Cloves
1/2 Tsp Ground Ginger
Large Pinch Of Ground Cardamon
Large Pinch Of Ground White Pepper
Large Pinch Of Ground Black Pepper
1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
1 Large Egg
240g Plain Flour

  1. Begin by placing the butter, molasses, light brown sugar, bicarb, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, cardamon, white and black pepper into a large bowl and beat until well combined. Add in the vanilla extract and egg and beat until once again, everything is well combined.
  2. Add in the flour and mix everything together until a dough ball forms and you can see no streaks of flour. Tip the dough ball out onto a lightly flour surface and lightly dust the top of the dough before rolling out the dough ball into a rectangle that is roughly 1/2 inch thick. 
  3. Take your biscuit cutters and cut out your biscuit shapes before transferring them onto a baking tray lined with baking paper, spacing the biscuits about 1 inch apart from each other. Take the dough that is left from around the cut out shapes and push back into a dough ball, roll back out to a 1/2 inch rectangle, cut out some more biscuit shapes and transfer to your baking tray (you will probably need more than one tray!). Repeat until you have used all the dough.
  4. Pop your biscuits on their trays into the fridge and leave tochill for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, get your oven on to 200 degrees (180 fan), remove the biscuits from the fridge and pop them in the centre of your oven to bake for 10 minutes. If your oven is prone to baking unevenly then remove the baking trays after 5 minutes, turn them around and pop them back in the oven to bake for the remaining 5 minutes.
Remove the biscuits from the oven and leave them to cool for a short time on the baking tray before transferring them to a wire rack to cool and firm up completely.You can enjoy the fragrant spicy kick of the speculaas as they are for a more crisp crunchy texture or you can make yourself a big pot of tea and dunk these delightful biccies into a piping hot mug so they are all soft and melt in your mouth. When biscuits taste this good I don't see why you should only eat them on special occasions, they really are good enough to be eaten all year round. That is what makes them super special speculaas!

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