Flemish Spiced Cookies

Speculaas

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These cookies are popular in the Netherlands. They are usually shaped before baking by chilling the dough in a block in the refrigerator and then slicing, but they can also be shaped into balls and flattened with a tumbler.

Ingredients

  • 1 ¼ cups/150 g flour
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp ground allspice
  • ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ cup/125 g unsalted butter
  • ½ cup/100 g light brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp/22 g sliced almonds

Method

  1. Sift the flour, spices, and baking powder together on to a sheet of paper. In a bowl, cream the butter with the sugar until light and soft. Add the flour in three batches, stirring until thoroughly mixed. If the dough seems very dry, add 1-2 tablespoons of water. Press the dough into a ball with your hands.
  2. Turn the dough on to a lightly floured board and work it until smooth. Shape it into a block measuring 6 x 3 x 1 in/15 x 7.5 x 2.5 cm, wrap it and chill until firm, at least 2 hours.
  3. Heat the oven to 400°F/200°C and line two baking sheets with aluminum foil, greasing the foil with butter. With a sharp knife, cut the thinnest possible slices of dough and set them on the foil. Alternatively, mold the cookies using a fork or a tumbler. Sprinkle each cookie with a few sliced almonds, pressing them down lightly. Bake until golden, 5-7 minutes. While still warm, transfer the cookies to a rack to cool.

Gingerbread men

On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough ¼ in/6 mm thick. With a gingerbread man cookie cutter, stamp out cookies. To decorate, replace almonds with currants or raisins.