Posted by Stephanie Simpson on
A few short weeks ago, that’s what I would have been saying - eyebrows raised - if you had brought them up in conversation (as you so often do, right?).
But then, I saw them. Four times in as many weeks: Speculoos.
- First, in a cookbook: hailed as the perfect, crunchy accompaniment to lucious lemon ice cream.
- Then, in a movie: a pantry staple offered to comfort a troubled friend.
- Again! On a blog: described as the French equivalent to gingersnaps.
- Finally, in the news: as the cookie that inspired a spread so popular it sparked multiple lawsuits and may come to rival peanut butter in popularity.
Now, when the universe hits you over the head with something like that, you listen. So I did some research (ahem, Wikipedia) and found out that:
Speculoos (or speculaas) are thin, crunchy, Belgian spice cookies, traditionally baked in cookie molds (think: the most impressive animal crackers you’ve ever seen) in celebration of St. Nicholas’ Eve.
Then I did some baking, and found out that:
Speculoos are delicious.
They reminded us of these, only so much better - as homemade cookies always are. Plus, they’re easy to make, fun to decorate (think of the possibilities!), and if anyone in your house bakes, you probably already have all of the ingredients on hand.
So please don’t wait until you’ve heard about them three more times to make them. I promise: the universe knows what’s up.
2¾ cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
½ tsp salt
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1. In a medium bowl, sift together first six ingredients, then give the sifted stuff a quick whisk to make sure everything is evenly incorporated. In the bowl of a stand mixer**, beat together butter and sugar until well-blended. Add egg and beat until incorporated.
2. Add flour mixture to butter mixture, and mix until dough clumps together. Place 1/3 of dough on a large sheet of plastic wrap and shape the dough into a disc (I use the plastic wrap to help me out here). Repeat with each remaining third of dough. Chill dough for at least two hours.
3. Preheat oven to 325°F. Remove dough from the fridge and allow to warm up for 5-10 minutes. Unwrap dough, place on a lightly-floured sheet of parchment or wax paper and roll out until 1/4 - 1/5-inch thick. If the dough starts to stick to your rolling pin, dust the rolling pin with a bit of flour. Cut out cookies using a ~2-inch cookie cutter or a knife***, and transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet (as always, I used a Silpat). Gather dough scraps, roll out, and cut. Repeat until you’ve used all of the dough.
4. Bake cookies for 10-15 minutes or until edges are golden (the baking time will vary depending on how thin you’ve rolled your cookies, so keep an eye on them once you hit the 10 minute mark). Cool cookies on baking sheet, and store in an airtight container at room temperature.
*This recipe was originally intended to make cookies AND a tart crust, so it makes a lot of dough. Rather than try to scale it down (who wants to try to use half of an egg?), I made the full batch and put two of the three discs of dough in the freezer for another time. Each disc should yield about two-dozen cookies.
**No stand mixer? No worries! You can use a bowl and either a hand mixer or a wooden spoon and some elbow grease.
***I cut mine into 3 cm x 7 cm rectangles (as per this recipe), and then pressed designs into the tops using knife and a circle-shaped bit of plastic - not necessary, but fun!
Not that you need anyone to tell you how to eat a cookie, but speculoos have been served in some peculiar ways, so I thought I’d share.
- with the usual suspects: tea, coffee, milk, espresso - speculoos are perfect here!
- with fruit compote: dunked in poached/baked/stewed apples, strawberries, rhubarb, or plums - they’d all be good (credit to: Chocolate & Zucchini)
- with ice cream: crumble them overtop, dunk them in, or use them to sandwich together ice cream. We dunked ours in homemade sour cream ice cream. And we were happy.
- as a tart crust: check out the tart recipe I based the cookies on - it sounds super tasty!
- make a paste? find out what all the fuss is about, and whiz up some cookies with oil. Let me know how it goes.
- as sandwich cookies: I imagine these would be pretty tasty rolled thin, baked, and used to sandwich together some melted chocolate or ganache.
- in a sandwich: according to this article, speculoos sandwiches used to be popular among workers who couldn’t afford to put cheese between their bread. Different times, hey?