Speculaas biscuits – delicious spiced cookies from The Netherlands – are a Christmas standard in my house. They have the spicy and aroma that just shouts warm, cosy, Christmas, and they fill the house with most gorgeous fragrance as they are baking. They are crunchy (and stay crunchy if stored in an air-tight box), very melt-in-the-mouth, and, as my kids will confirm, very moreish.
Best of all, they are so easy to make – really almost impossible to get wrong. The dough is super-forgiving too – you can make double the quantity listed here, and make lots more biscuits, or refrigerate or freeze the dough (after stage 3 of the recipe – rolled into a thick disc and wrapped in greaseproof paper and a freezer bag) for biscuit emergencies. They are very sturdy biscuits too – traditionally the dough is used to fill moulds like these, and make amazingly decorative cookies, so if you are searching for a cookie recipe to make cut-out cookies for gifts or for your Christmas tree, this one is ideal.
First up you will need to make the spice mix. This is my preferred mix – but if you search you will find loads of variations, or you can buy premixed Speculaas spices (which might be cheaper if you are not the kind of person who has all these spices already on their shelves).
Speculaas Spice Mix
- 3 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground cloves
- 1 tsp ground nutmeg (if you are grating whole nutmeg, then that’s about 1/3 nutmeg)
- 1/2 tsp ground white pepper
- 1/2 tsp ground coriander
- 1/2 tsp ground fennel
- 1/2 tsp ground mace
This will make loads more than you need for one batch of cookies – but it will keep well for a couple of months in a screw top jar. You can use it to make more cookies, or to spice up apple pies (delicious!), baked apples, granola, muffins (I have a recipe for Speculaas-spiced muffins which I will be sharing soon) fruit cakes and chocolate cakes…
Here’s how you make the biscuits – I get about 12 cookies using this quantity of dough and a 2.5 inch (that’s about 6cm) round cutter.
Speculaas biscuits / cookies
- 100g plain white flour
- 1 tsp speculaas pice mix
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 50g light muscovado sugar (or dark if you prefer a darker coloured biscuit)
- 1 tbsp whole milk
- 75g softened butter
- Preheat oven to 180C, Gas 4, or 350F. Line a flat baking tray with baking parchment.
- Mix all the ingredients in a bowl – I fit it is easiest to do this with my hands, but you can use a mixer/food processor if you like, just take care not to overwork the dough.
- Bring the mixture together with your hands until you have a smooth dough. Flatten to a disc about the 6 inches (15cm) across, and refrigerate for 10-15 minutes.
- Lightly flour your work surface and roll out the dough to about 1/4in (6mm) thickness.
- Cut biscuits with cookie cutters and transfer to the baking tray.
- Bake for 15-18 minutes until they are gently golden-brown. It’s always a good idea to check the biscuits after about 10 minutes, if your oven is anything like mine, there will be some uneveness in baking and you can turn the tray round to get a more even bake.
- After you have taken them out of the oven, leave to cool on the tray for a couple of minutes and then transfer to a wire wrack to finish cooling.
A quick and lovely way to decorate the cookies is to sprinkle them with flaked almonds before baking. But they are also great for decorative icing if you have talent in that direction, because the biscuits bake really flat. I am useless with the piping bag, so inspired by something I saw over at Martha Stewart, I decided to stencil mine with icing sugar. It was a bit fiddly, but much easier (for me) than proper icing.
My technique was to paint each cooled cookie with a very thin icing mix (I mixed 3 tablespoons of icing sugar with one tablespoon of water – it was plenty for 12 cookies), and then to use a snowflake stencil (I used a 2 inch craft punch to cut the stencil out of card) and a very fine sieve to sprinkle icing sugar over the stencil. It’s important to do one cookie at a time because otherwise the icing starts to dry and the icing sugar doesn’t stick so well. I added a little extra sprinkle once I was finished with the stencil (partly to cover up my smudges!). Definitely a fun thing to do with your kids if you don’t mind a floor full of icing sugar…
More Christmas recipes are imminent… I have been without a cooker for over a week now (difficult times in the Very Berry household with malfunctioning ovens and dodgy electrics), so am super-excited to be baking again. 🙂