December is almost upon us, which means that for us folks here in the low lands Sinterklaas is getting ready to visit all the good children on the night of the 5th of December. Sinterklaas was always such a joyous occasion for me when I was a kid – something we started looking forward to starting late October, early November even. It’s hard to miss all the excitement, supermarkets start stocking up on Sinterklaas treats as early as September nowadays. Typical Sinterklaas treats here include marzipan, clementines, chocolate (of course, we are in Belgium, after all) and speculaas!
Speculaas is a spiced, crispy biscuit that gets it’s flavor from the unique mix of spice (that includes cinnamon and ginger) that’s used. It’s a really yummy treat, and people here love it! There’s been a boom of speculaas inspired treats the last couple of years. The biggest and most popular producer Lotus has released a whole range of speculaas-y goodies, like chocolate covered morsels, ice cream and a boxes of speculaas crumble. My favorite is still the speculaas spread for on a sandwhich. Heaven! Even though the mass produced stuff is pretty darn good, there’s nothing quite like making your own, am I right?
You can by pre-made speculaas spice mix but when you make it yourself you can adapt it to your own personal flavor. I, for one, am crazy about cinnamon and cardamon.
10 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground cloves
2 teaspoons ground mace
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground star anise
The cookie dough
100 grams of soft brown sugar
100 grams of butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
200 grams of self-raising flour
2 teaspoons speculaas spice
flaked almonds (optional)
What to do
Mix the sugar, butter, salt, spice and flour together in a bowl. Rub the dry ingredients into your butter with your fingers until you get a crumbly batter. Add a tiny bit of water at a time until you have a solid dough – you don’t have to add a lot of water at all, just knead the dough well. Set this dough aside in your fridge for at least a night. The longer you let this rest the more flavor you’ll get, I put this dough in my fridge for three days before making the cookies.
You can either roll out this dough (and add some almonds, if you’d like) and cut it up. Or you can use special Speculaas molds. Make sure the molds are floured really well, your first cookie might not come out easily (or at all) but flour it again and the moisture of your first cookie will keep in the flour and will make sure the next cookie comes out way better. These molds hold a certain amount of dough, these small ones I used hold 25 grams per cookie. So measure out your dough into little heaps. Gently press in your dough with your thumbs, making sure it’s level, and roll over it with a rolling pin so it’s flat. You might have to scrape the edges a bit so the cookie comes out more easily. Put them on a baking plate lined with baking paper.
Bake in a preheated oven of 160°C for about 20 – 25 minutes, but this depends on your oven, and on how big your cookies are. Enjoy!