Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Speculaas

Now that I mentioned butter, let's try a cookie that relies on butter shall we? Actually I hadn't really thought about it. With Sinterklaas coming up I just had to make 'Speculaas'. Can you still follow me? Saint Nicolas -or Sinterklaas- is a Dutch holiday, in which 'the saint' delivers presents through the chimney on the night of 5 December. It sounds a bit like Christmas doesn't it? And it is actually, the Dutch version of Christmas!


And during that Dutch Christmas people hand out 'speculaas' (among a lot -LOTS- of other sweet stuff). And now I have to explain what it is right? *drums* It's a cookie! Stuffed with all the winter spices you can think of! Most of the time its crunchy, its buttery and it uses dark brown sugar and the combination is amazing. Every year again this whole country goes crazy about speculaas; you're missing out if you haven't tasted it before!

Speculaas
around 30 cookies - adapted from Het etna ovenboek

200 grams flour
100 grams dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons spices
125 butter *
2 tablespoons milk
almonds (optional)

1. Mix the flour with the brown sugar and spices.
2. Add the butter and the milk and knead until an even dough forms. Wrap the dough in foil and leave it in the fridge overnight if you want the flavour to really develop. Feel free to skip that part if you're as impatient as me!
3. Preheat the oven to 150 degrees Celsius or 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
4. Shape the cookies into any shape you want. Traditionally the speculaas is sold as one large piece with almonds on top or small windmill shapes, sometimes with almonds as well. If you're using molds like mine, make sure to use a lot of (rice) flour to stop them from sticking to your mold! Once you've shaped them place them on a greased or lined oven tray.
5. Bake for around 15-20 minutes until they turn dry and slightly darker.

* Using cold butter will give a crunchier and flakier effect than using room temperature butter.


So, what do you think? Originally self-raising flour is used, but simply flour seemed to work better for me. According to the bakery museum I visited a while back, cookies like these were made two months or so beforehand, so the bakeries could keep up with the demand of these during Sinterklaas. The dough was left to rest for around 2 days before being shaped and baked and in stead of milk they used buttermilk.The cookies were made in such pretty shapes that it was custom to put them on display in the house throughout December. Eventually the speculaas became so tough that it could only be eaten after it was cooked and turned to porridge.


If I were you I wouldn't wait till you can only use this for porridge. Just eat them straight out of the oven! When they're still warm they give off such a lovely smell and they'll still be soft. If you're patient enough for them to cool down you'll find they're really crunchy in stead. Don't forget to add the almonds and oh, what are you waiting for?

Just curious actually, has any of you heard of Sinterklaas through the news now? According to the dutch newspapers we've become famous all over the world for it now, but somewhere I'm seriously doubting people have bothered with it.

4 comments:

  1. Looks delicious! I love the almonds on top!

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    1. Thank you so much Mallory! I think the almonds really add to the feel of it as well :) Hope you get to try it out!

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  2. Wonderful! Sounds delicious and I love hearing about other culture's traditions :-)

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    1. Thank you Aimee! I hope I get to write a lot more about traditions you havent heard of yet :) or ones you have as well!

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