Saturday, December 5, 2015

Speculaas

My Oma and Opa came over on "the boat" from Holland, and with them came a boatload of traditions, foods and history. I may not have been fortunate enough to know either of them, but through my family, and mostly my Father I have grown up with many Dutch things in my life. As far as I can remember back, when I think of speculaas, I think of eating them with my Dad and a cup of hot tea. 

Today is the eve of the feast of St. Nicholas, and according to Dutch tradition, Speculaas (windmill
cookies) are served. Although in my house, you'd see them all throughout the cold months of the year. They are crisp and spicy, and perfect with a cup of tea, and often found with sliced almonds baked in. Traditionally they are made with a wooden mold, and if you have the practice, can be done quite quickly. I have the mold, but not the experience using it. So I was thrilled to find a recipe for a rolled version that I could easily make at home a few years ago. Now, I just wish I had a windmill cookie cutter.

Thank you to The DutchBakers Daughter for this recipe, and so many more inspirations. According to her, the speculaas spice dates back to the 15th century. It is available to purchase online, although everyone has their own "mix". I prefer to make it at home, it is very simple.


Ingredients

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup white sugar
1 1/4 cups dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
3 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 1/2 tablespoons speculaas spice**
1 teaspoon kosher salt

** Speculaas spice: (If it makes it easier, think of the word part as teaspoon)
8 parts cinnamon
2 parts nutmeg
2 parts ground cloves
1 part white pepper
1 part ground ginger
1 part cardamom

Directions

      1.     Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
      2.     Cream butter, vanilla, and both kinds of sugar until light and fluffy. Add both eggs and blend well.
      3.     Whisk all of the dry ingredients together and slowly add to the butter mixture, combining until the dough pulls from the side of the bowl.
      4.     Divide the dough in half. Wrap each half in plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.
      5.     Roll out dough to 1/4" or 1/8" thick and cut with cookie cutters. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes.
      6.     Let cool for 5 minutes on baking sheet before removing to a wire rack. 



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