Speculaas

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Easy

  • Yield: about

    twenty-four

    2 inch Round Cookies

Appears in

Baked Explorations: Classic American Desserts Reinvented

Baked Explorations

By Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito

Published 2010

  • About

Those damned delta air lines biscoff cookies haunt me. I really hate flying, but I have to admit they are the one part of it that I enjoy. There are few cookies that I would pilfer in large quantities from a stewardess’s mobile cart, but I would do almost anything to satiate my craving for those. They are actually speculaas, a type of Dutch or Belgian shortcrust biscuit. Traditionally served on St. Nicholas’s Eve (December 6), speculaas are crunchy, golden, and chock-full of the traditional holiday spices: cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. They are also highly addictive and pair well with tea or coffee.

Ingredients

  • cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • tablespoons cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 10 tablespoons (1¼ sticks) butter, cool but not cold, cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest
  • Coarse sugar

Method

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, brown sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, cardamom, ginger, and salt

Drop the butter over the flour mixture, and use a large fork or a pastry cutter to cut the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse sand.

Add the beaten egg and orange zest, and cut the mixture again until just combined.

Use your hands to knead the dough (do not overwork it) until it forms a ball. The dough should be slightly sticky and break apart easily, but shouldn’t stick to your hands. Cover it in plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Unwrap and divide the chilled dough into two equal portions. Place one on a lightly flour-dusted work surface and return the other to the refrigerator.

Roll the dough into a ¼-inch-thick round. You may have to flip and lightly flour the dough a few times while rolling it out to keep it from sticking. Use any cookie cutter (a rectangular or oblong shape is the most traditional) to cut out the cookies, and transfer them to the prepared baking sheets, leaving about 1 inch of space around them. Extra dough scraps can be refrigerated and rerolled once more, if desired.

Sprinkle the tops of the cookies with coarse sugar. Bake the cookies for 15 minutes, rotating the baking sheets halfway through the baking time. The tops of the cookie should be just a bit dry and dark brown. Remove from the oven and place the baking sheets on wire racks to cool for 5 minutes. Use a spatula to transfer the cookies to the racks to cool completely.

Speculaas can be stored at room temperature, tightly covered, for up to 5 days.