I thought I would do something fun! Right now I'm really into baking treats from around the world. We all know I love my French Macarons. We have 10 days until Christmas so I decided to do 10 days of cookies! Not just your average cookies, but some you may never have heard of! If you feel like a baking adventure, try these little dandies from around the World!
One of my favorite cookies are Speculoos! They originate in Belgium and The Netherlands. They are also called speculaas or Dutch Windmill cookies. Amazing with coffee, and the beautiful detail makes them a pretty cookie. I use to have these sweets as a kid. I absolutely love them.
The major holiday that they celebrate at the end of the year is St. Nicholas Eve, December 5th and not Christmas. The Dutch Sinterklaas (and the basis of the North American Santa Claus) gave out holiday treats ranging from chocolate letters, to marzipan figures to one of my favorite cookies speculaas. Thin, spicy, crunchy shortcrust cookies, these treats are the Dutch equivalent to the American gingersnap. With a mix of spices, heavy on the cinnamon, speculaas have as much snap as their American counterpart, but with an added layer of multiple spices like nutmeg, cloves, ginger and cardamom.
Traditionally speculaas are made by pressing the dough into a mold before baking in the oven. Using a springerle rolling pin (a rolling pin with a pattern carved into it) is an easy way to impress a shape into the cookies. If you don’t have a speculaas mold or a springerle rolling pin (both of which can be found online or at a specialty baking shop), you can just use regular holiday cookie cutters to make festive shaped cookies instead or just roll them out, and cut them into squares with a sharp knife. They’ll still taste great and make your house smell like the holidays.
1/2 cup (1 stick or 113 g) cold unsalted butter
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons (75 g) white granulated sugar
3/4 cup (165 g) packed dark brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 3/4 cup (235 g) all purpose flour
Parchment paper or silpat
Springerle rolling pin, speculaas mold, cookie cutters or sharp knife
1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper of a silpat.
2. Cut the butter into 1/2 inch cubes. Place in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add the sugars, baking soda, salt, and spices. Cream butter and dry ingredients together on medium speed for 30 seconds or until the batter is uniform in color. Scrape down the sides with a large spatula and add the vanilla extract and egg and beat on medium speed until incorporated (about 30 more seconds). Scrape down the sides again and add the flour. Beat on medium speed until incorporated (about 30 more seconds)
3. Split the cookie dough in half. If you using the springerle rolling pin, roll the dough out until 1/2 inch thick with a plain rolling pin. Liberally dust the springerle pin with flour then roll over the dough, pressing firmly to make a 1/4 inch thick cookie dough, with imprint. Cut the dough along the springerle grid lines with a sharp knife or pizza cutter and place on the baking sheet. If using a traditional speculaas cookie mold, roll the dough until 1/2 thick with a plain rolling pin. Lightly spray the mold with cooking oil, then liberally dust with all purpose flour (knocking out any loose flour once you’ve dusted it). Press the dough into the mold, remove excess dough of the back of the mold and then carefully unmold it onto the baking sheet. If using a cookie cutter, roll the dough out until 1/4 inch thick with a plain rolling pin and cut out cookies and place on the baking sheet.
But wait! Here's a different version to try below. It gives the speculaa a fun twist!
Speculoos Cookie Sandwiches
Yield: about 20 sandwhiches
Total Time: 1 1/2 hours
1/2 cup butter, cold, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon molasses
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 cup cocoa powder, sifted (natural or dutch is fine, I used a mixture)
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream, more or less as needed
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch fine sea salt
Place butter cubes in a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add the sugar, brown sugar, baking soda, salt, and spices and beat on medium speed for 30 seconds or until evenly incorporated. Add vanilla and egg and beat on medium speed until combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add flour and beat on medium speed until all the dry flour has been incorporated.
Press the dough together into a ball and flatten slightly into a disk shape. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or overnight.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to 1/4-inch thick. Cut out cookies with desired shape cutter and arrange on parchment or silicone mat-lined baking sheets, leaving about an inch of space between cookies. (If using a traditional springerle rolling pin or speculaas cookie mold, roll the dough until 1/2 thick with a regular rolling pin and then shape).
Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until the cookies just start to darken around the edges (the longer they cook, the crispier they will be). Let cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
To prepare filling, in a large mixing bowl, beat butter on medium-high speed until smooth and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add cocoa powder and beat until incorporated. Alternate adding 1/2 cup powdered sugar, followed by 1 tablespoon cream, mixing well after each addition. Repeat with more powdered sugar, then cream, then remaining sugar. Add additional cream as needed; this will depend on the room temperature and consistency of your frosting (during hotter months you will need less cream than during the cooler winter months). Add vanilla, salt, and cinnamon and beat on medium high speed until frosting is light and fluffy.
Transfer frosting to a piping bag fitted with a large round tip. Holding the tip close to the surface of the cookie, pipe a thin, even layer of frosting over the entire cookie, leaving about 1/4 inch space around the edge. You can also spread frosting on cookies with an offset spatula. Top with a second cookie and press lightly to adhere. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes to allow the frosting to set.
Cookies will keep, refrigerated in an airtight container, for up to 5 days.
What part of the World will we go to next! Read up tomorrow!