speculaas1

Quest for the Best Speculaas

People from Holland consider speculaas as Dutch as cheese, tulips and liquorice…

2013 updated version!
Like marzipan, speculaas (or speculaasjes as the individual cookies are called) is a cookie highly connected with the feast of Sinterklaas in Holland. The name speculaas has to do with the wooden molds the cookies are made in (we call it a speculaasplank, speculaas (sometimes also called speculoos) comes from the word speculum which means; mirror). One of the more famous shapes is a windmill of course!

Every year we are on a quest for the best spice and dough mix that will amount to the ultimate speculaas taste and texture. This fall, with the feast of Sinterklaas in site, we again blew new life into our speculaas project and after some more experimenting with dough and spices, we updated our recipe. Hope you will give it a try and like it too!

The speculaas spice mix before grinding

Ingredients for the speculaas spice mix

makes enough for 2-3 recipes of speculaas

6.5 g cinnamon

2 g ground cloves

1.5 g grated nutmeg

1 g ground white pepper

2 g aniseed powder

1 g ginger powder

1/2 g cardamom powder

You can also experiment with the spices of course by adding allspice or ground coriander seeds for example or using less or more of one of the ingredients, until you find your favorite blend. You can also buy sachets of ready made speculaas spices. But for the ultimate pleasure in smell and taste, you really must make your own! I started with a pestle and mortar but nowadays I use a cheap coffee mill for the grinding.

As for the soft brown sugar in the recipe. You can experiment with light, dark or muscovado sugar, they all have there own taste and can all be used. In Holland we have ‘witte, gele & donkere basterdsuiker’. We prefer the yellow (gele) version.

Pressed for time or nothing else at hand? You can also use pumpkin spices (usually a mix of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves and allspice) to use in this speculaas recipe.

IMG_3914

Recipe for the speculaas dough

makes about 20 speculaasjes

225 g pastry flour / all purpose flour

115 g dairy butter at room temperature

130 g soft brown sugar

7 g / 2 tsps baking powder

3 g / 1/2 tsp baking soda

2 tbsps / 30 g buttermilk or milk

3 tsps / 7 g speculaas spices (see recipe above)

few pinches of salt

fine rice flour to dust the molds

a speculaas mold made of wood

Making the speculaas

Make the spice mixture in advance. Preheat the oven at 165ºC / 330ºF conventional oven. Sift the flour with the baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices. You can also leave out the baking soda, with it you will get a more brittle cookie, without it the cookie is more crunchy. Add the butter to the sugar and combine. Then add the buttermilk and beat until smooth. Add the flour mixture and quickly knead into a ball. If you are using almond extract you can add that to the milk. Press the ball into a disc shape, cover and rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. You can also make the dough a day in advance. This way all the ingredients really get a chance to blend. Just make sure your flour has a very low protein content, otherwise you might end up with a less crunchy cookie.

Take the dough out of the fridge. Sprinkle rice flour in the speculaas molds. Press an amount of dough in the speculaas shapes and cut away the excess dough with a very sharp knife. Tap the shapes out of the molds (this is NOT easy, esp. with new molds, they need a bit of help and maybe some light swearing) and place them on a baking tray. If you want you can add flaked almonds at this stage by pressing the underside of the cookie in the flakes and placing them, flakes side down, on the baking tray.

Bake in the oven for about 16-18 minutes, depending on your oven. All ovens are different so you may have to vary your baking times and oven temperature to get the best result. Keep a close eye on the speculaas during the later stage of the baking, because you don’t want your speculaas be too dark, (you will taste and smell it, burned sugar!). Take them out and leave the speculaas on the baking tray for a few minutes to firm up. Transfer them to cool on a rack.

The speculaas should be crunchy all the way through, from the edges to the center of the cookie. You will only know this for sure when they are completely cooled.

IMG_4150

    Tips for using your speculaas molds

  • Be generous with the sprinkling of rice flour on your molds, especially when they are new
  • Take extra care to flour the corners of the molds, for easier release from the molds
  • Make sure your dough is as cold as possible but still pliable enough to fill the mold
  • Make sure your knife for cutting away the excess dough is super sharp and cut with confidence and in one go
  • Your knife should be level to the speculaas mold, held flat against the wood, when cutting away the excess dough
  • Put dough back in the fridge for a while if it becomes too warm and soft
  • If your speculaas will not be released by tapping, help it along with your fingers and/or with a blunt kitchen knife
  • Gently brush excess flour from your speculaasje with a pastry brush
  • The speculaasjes hold their shape better if you put them in the fridge before baking to firm up again
  • Make sure your mold is dry and clean before storing it and cover it so it will not collect any dust
  • Most people will not have speculaas molds lying around. You can roll out the dough and make nice shapes with cookie cutters and decorate with almonds. Bake like the speculaasjes.

    You can also make a speculaas pie, filled with (home made) almond paste (‘gevulde speculaas’). Check out our recipe for almond paste and our recipe for delicious speculaas pies filled with almond and cranberries.

    you can also make smaller individual speculaas pies

    Note: Some research done by me shows that there is a common root that binds speculaas spices to a British and an American variety. It comes close to something the Brits call ‘mixed spices’. This mixture also contains cinnamon and nutmeg and can contain a variety of extra spices like allspice (piment), ginger, cloves, coriander, caraway and cayenne pepper. The American ‘pumpkin pie spice’ also contains cinnamon and nutmeg, and usually ginger, cloves and sometimes allspice. So in conclusion they all have a base of cinnamon, followed by nutmeg, ginger and cloves and after that there’s some variation to be found. Interesting!

    Update 2012: At the moment I am testing the recipe with flour made from spelt (it’s the finer variety we call ‘speltbloem’) and the first results are very promising! The taste is great.

    Check out this site for beautiful speculaas molds (wish I had one of those…)
    Cookie Mold

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84 Responses to Quest for the Best Speculaas

  1. Julia says:

    speculaas, speculaas, speculaas!
    ik vind de versgebakken van de HEMA al super, maar dit….WOW!
    zooo lekker als ontbijt op witbrood met roomboter…(erg verantwoord he?) =)
    waar heb jij de vorm gekocht?
    groetjes, julia

  2. Marieke says:

    Hoi Julia,

    Ik ben ook DOL op witbrood met roomboter en speculaasjes!! Grappig. Veel mensen vinden het maar raar dat je speculaasjes op je boterham doet. Ik ken het al sinds ik een klein meisje was, met de bakkersspeculaasjes van mijn opa. Die van de HEMA ken ik niet. Ga ik ook proeven als vergelijkend onderzoekje. De vorm heb ik van mijn schoonmoeder Jos gekregen. Ze kocht hem bij de molen van Vlaardingen (Aeolus heet die, dat betekent God van de wind). Ze brengt altijd heel lief dingen voor ons mee als ze weet dat we ergens mee bezig zijn. Plankjes, vormpjes, mixen, stroop, boekjes etc. Bij Haarlem in Santpoort heb je ook een molen (de Zandhaas) met heel goed meel. Misschien bij jou in de buurt ook.

    Groetjes,

    Marieke

  3. Sherry Wijzenbeek says:

    Greetings,

    I would love to try your speculaas recipe. However, I live in the US, and we don’t weigh our ingredients. I don’t know how to convert your recipe.

    Thanks for what looks like a great cookie!

    Sherry

    • Els says:

      you buy a scales. using things like ‘cups’ or so will always give you inexact measurements. Like if your made a recept with a cup of flower and then tried to make it again later only the flower had compacted a bit, you would still use a cup of flower but it would be more than before. And then there is also the question of if it is suppose to be rounded at the top going a bit over the cup or flat across. when you weigh you don’t have to think about these things and your recept will alway turn out the same.

      Just buy scales. it is better that way.

      • Weekend Bakers says:

        Hi Els,

        Thanks for your addition. Of course we could not agree with you more on the use of scales!

  4. Marieke says:

    Hello Sherry,

    Thanks for your comment.
    If you google for ‘cooking conversion’ you will find lots of sites on how to go from metric to US for instance. Here are already some basic conversions:

    U.S. to Metric
    Capacity
    1/5 teaspoon = 1 ml
    1 teaspoon = 5 ml
    1 tablespoon = 15 ml
    1 fluid oz. = 30 ml
    1/5 cup = 50 ml
    1 cup = 240 ml
    2 cups (1 pint) = 470 ml
    4 cups (1 quart) = .95 liter
    4 quarts (1 gal.) = 3.8 liters
    Weight
    1 oz. = 28 grams
    1 pound = 454 grams

    Hope this is of use! With this recipe you have to measure the spices precisely, so that is why we use a scale that can measure by 0.1 grams correctly.

    Marieke

  5. Nena says:

    Hello!
    How surprised I am to find this web-site!
    At the moment I am baking some cookies and as everybody is asleep I am surfing the Internet!
    I just LOVE Dutch speculaas, I make speculaasbrokken but I would love to have the wooden forms, just don’t know where to buy them???In the shopping centers thay have eather plastic or metal ones…..I have a web-site where they sell antique and you can get them there, but I would like to have a new ones. Can you help me?
    Best regards from a Slovenian grannie living in Amsterdam

    • Isabel Maas says:

      Hi,

      After much searching I found speculaas wood forms in this webshop : http://www.wonderkok.be
      I have ordered the plank with the 2 traditional forms and the one with the Sinterklaas form, I should be receiving it next week. Hope this helps .

      Regards,
      Isabel

      • Weekend Bakers says:

        Thanks Isabel,
        Hope they do a good job. With our molds I have to say it keeps being a challenge to get the speculaas out.

        Happy baking,

        Marieke

        • Isabel Maas says:

          I baked speculaas today for the first time. The recipe above works just fine and I figured out how to use the wood moulds: forget about tapping it, use a knife to ease the edges out, they gently turn the moulds upside down on top of your hand and slowly pull the speculaas free so it falls on your hand. I am very pleased with the results:)

          Cheers,
          Isabel

  6. Marieke says:

    Hello Nena,
    I got my wooden forms from my husbands mother. She bought them the Aeolus molen (windmill)in the center of the town of Vlaardingen. There is also a mill in Santpoort near Amsterdam that sells very good organic flour that might have them. At a store called Dille & Kamille (in Haarlem) I also saw some.
    http://www.dille-kamille.nl/winkels/index.htm. Somebody also mentioned seeying them at ‘De Bijenkorf’ department store. But remember that a new one does not work that well the first few times you use it. Some say, the older the better.

    Lots of success!

    Marieke

    PS: There’s also a store chain called ‘ Boerenbond’ (see http://www.boerenbond.nl for store detaisl) and I saw some speculaas molds there. They also sell flour (also organic) of the Soezie brand, which is quite populair with home bakers (I bought some myself to try).

  7. Nena says:

    Marieke, thank you for your prompt replay!
    Will report about my findings……
    groetjes
    Nena

  8. Heidi Reese says:

    I have recently returned to the U.S. after living in the Netherlands for about a year. I really enjoyed your site and will try the recipe, using less anise, which I’m not fond of, and adding ginger which I do like and feel is essential in this type of cookie.

    Thanks!
    Heidi

  9. Marieke says:

    Thank you Heidi,

    Yes you are right about the ginger. I think this will work out perfect.
    Lots of fun baking speculaas in America!

    Marieke

  10. Coppe says:

    I made these this weekend. They were really nice. It was really easy to work with this dough. For my future speculaas escapades, I will use this recipe as a base.

    Bedankt!

  11. Marieke says:

    Hello Coppe,

    I agree with you on the dough…’aldough’ :-) it still takes some practise with the ‘speculaasplanken’ and getting the cookies out of there shapes in one go.

    Thanx and happy baking!

    Marieke

  12. aithria says:

    Marieke,
    I’m a korean and had lived in Netherlands for six years when i was a child(‘bijna twintig jaar geleden :)’). Every winter i missed ‘pepernoten and speculaas’ so much. And now, thanks to you…I can make it by myself!!

  13. Marieke says:

    Hi Aithria,

    Wat een mooi verhaal! Lot’s of happy memories I hope.
    Success with the baking and enjoy!

    Marieke

  14. Mia says:

    Hello, I would like to try this recipe,Has any one successfully converted to US measurements?
    Thank you
    Mia

  15. Marieke says:

    Hello Mia,

    I only know the basic conversions I mentioned earlier in another comment in this same post. For the spice mix a precision scale (to 0.1 grams) is the ultimate thing I guess, because you do have to measure precise, and when you have found the right combination, you can repeat it easily time after time. Maybe there’s a scale around that weighs letters, they are also quit accurate.

    Success,

    Marieke

  16. Carol says:

    Marieke,

    I’ve worked the conversion and am including it here. Thank you so much for the recipe! You have a grateful “American cousin” now.

    6.5 grams of ground cinnamon 1 ½ tsp
    2 grams of ground cloves ½ tsp
    1.5 grams of grated nutmeg 1/3 tsp
    1 gram of ground white pepper ¼ tsp
    2 grams of anise seed powder ½ tsp
    1 gram of ginger powder ¼ tsp

    makes about 24 speculaasjes
    250 grams of wheat flour 1 cup
    100 grams of dairy butter ½ cup
    50 grams of raw cane sugar 3 ½ Tsp
    50 grams of soft dark brown sugar 3 ½ Tsp
    1 tsp of baking powder
    1/2 tsp of baking soda
    2 tbsps of milk
    3 tsps of speculaas spices (see recipe)
    pinch of salt
    fine rice flower for the molds
    a speculaasjes mold made from wood

  17. Marieke says:

    Dear American cousin,

    I am grateful too for your addition and I hope many people will find it useful and get to taste the speculaas. This way this humble cookie will conquer the world!

    Thanks,

    Marieke

  18. Ron says:

    Did I do something wrong? I measured the ingredients precisely, baked at the right temperature for the right amount of time. But when I try to pick up a cookie, it crumbles almost to dust. Some other recipes call for an egg, some call for the dough to be refrigerated for a few hours before making the cookiee, some use more butter… I’m trying to figure out what went wrong. The only difference is that I used an Air-bake cookie sheet rather than the standard cookie sheet. But would this make the cookie so brittle it would crumble if you try to pick it up?

    Thanks,
    Ron

  19. Marieke says:

    Hi Ron,

    So far I haven’t had or heard this problem from other people. I do not know these baking sheets but I can hardly imagine that this should cause the problem (though baking times can vary when using different surfaces, for example with the silicon ones it can take a little longer). Maybe it’s in the baking powder or baking soda that is somehow different or more powerful. The original Dutch recipes also never use an egg. You could try it with a little bit more butter (not too much I think) or maybe a different type of flour. I have used the dough both refrigerated and not refrigerated..that should not make a difference that makes a cookie crumble or not. In any case, leave the cookies to cool for a while when you take them out of the oven, before transferring them to a wired rack. So my first suggestion would be to look at the baking powder and or soda.

    Good luck,

    Marieke

  20. Ilse says:

    Hi marieke, ik was op zoek naar speculaaskruiden op het net en kwam op jou prachtige blog terecht!
    ik woon in spanje en daar hebben ze geen speculaas, nu kan ik het lekker zelf maken. Thanx!!
    ik zet je blog bij mn favourites,
    en ik zag trouwens al een aantal van je favouriete boeken die ook bij mij in de kast staan ;)
    keep up the good work!
    Groetjes!
    Ilse

  21. Marieke says:

    Hi Ilse,

    Hoop dat je nog lekker weer hebt in Spanje. Hier is het dichte mist op het moment.
    Raar dat die goedheiligman uit Spanje alleen in Nederland zijn speculaas en pepernoten uitdeelt ;-)
    Maar zelf maken is geen straf voor mensen die van koken en bakken houden.

    Ik zit net te bedenken dat ik wel veel kookboeken heb, maar eigenlijk niets speciaal over de Spaanse keuken. Als je nog suggesties hebt?

    Groetjes en geniet van Spanje!

    Marieke

  22. ilse says:

    Goeiemorgen, hier is het nu ook wel ¨winter¨aan het worden voor zover je het hier winter noemt…het is wat kouder en de afgelopen dagen erg veel regen (vandaar mijn weemoed naar speculaas)
    Ik woon in het zuiden, in Andalusie en heb een boek wat erg mooi deze keuken reflecteerd:
    Moro the cookbook : http://www.amazon.co.uk/Moro-Cookbook-Samantha-Clark/dp/009188084X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1225872316&sr=8-1

    Dit is ook een van mn lievelingsboeken, ze hebben nog 2 andere geschreven die ik nog niet heb maar zullen vast ook mooi zijn!
    Verder is spanje zo ontzettend groot en divers maar heb dus deze als aanrader..
    groetjes!

  23. nici nieuwland says:

    Hallo Marieke. Dank voor je speculaas recept. Ik ga het lekker morgen proberen. Ik woon in Australie, al zo’n 25 jaar. Tuurlyk kan ik hier speculaas kopen. Maar ik houd van echte boter en veel kruiden. Ik ben heel benieuwt naar het resultaat. Ik heb geen plank, maar dat deert niet. Enjoy the winter in Holland. Bye Nici

  24. Marieke says:

    Hallo Nici,

    Zo leuk te horen dat je in Australië ook speculaas kunt kopen. Ook poffertjes zijn populair merk ik aan de comments op mijn blog. Zelf maken, als je de tijd hebt, geeft toch wel de meeste voldoening vind ik. Vooral de kruiden vers kopen en zelf mengen, al die intense geuren, dat zou je allemaal missen als je een pakje koopt. En ja, ook zonder plankje is de smaak natuurlijk nog steeds heerlijk.

    Veel plezier met bakken!

    Marieke

  25. Ron

    The problem you may have is in the measurements.
    An European cup is 250ml whereas an American cup is 235ml.
    After we immigrated to the US I had quite a few baking disasters before I realised what the problem was.
    I baked this today and the recipe is absolutely perfect!

    Dankie Marieke

    Christelle

  26. faye says:

    Hi, could you tell me where I can purchase antique speculaas molds? I live in the US and the state I live in is West Virginia…..I would appreciate any help you can give me….best regards, Faye Darby

  27. Marieke says:

    Hi Faye,

    I am no expert on antique speculaas molds. The best suggestion I can give is to look on eBay and also on Dutch auction sites like http://www.marktplaats.nl. The keyword to look for in Dutch is ‘antieke speculaasplank’. Another site I spotted is http://www.hollandsbest.com/housewares/speculaas_molds.php (they are based in California) and seem to have a nice selection of molds, but I don’t know about the antique part of it.

    Good luck with the search!

    Marieke

  28. Mirjam says:

    Lekker pepernoten. Alleen het zijn geen peprnoten maar kruidnoten. Ik woon in Amerika en lust ze erg graag vandaar dat ik zezelf wil bakken. Ik kan nergens op internet het recept voor de echte pepernoten vinden. Zoiets moet jij toch weten??? Je maakt me dolblij…..

  29. Marieke says:

    Hoi Mirjam,

    Ja, ik weet het verschil tussen kruidnootjes en de echte pepernoten (meer als taaitaai).In echte pepernoten zit geen boter, maar wel honing of stroop. Pepernoten heb ik zelf nog nooit gemaakt. Ik heb wel een recept voor je gevonden.
    Zie: http://www.de-chef.nl/cgi-bin/nl/site-showrecept.perl?naam=Echte%20pepernoten%20(taaitaai%20noten)&recept=1130259644&skin=normal

    Hoop dat je er wat aan hebt.
    Succes met bakken!

    Marieke

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  31. Cass says:

    This is a great recipe – thanks!! I grew up eating these, and was so happy to find this recipe.

    Faye: I live in the US, and there is a gentleman in the midwest that hand carves speculaas molds: http://cookiemold.com/
    The molds are beautiful, and if you follow his directions, they unmold easily with great results.

    Dankzegging!

  32. wanda says:

    Is it me or??? I couldn’t make a dough with only 2 tblsp of milk!!! So I used more. The cookies were nice, but NOT really speculaas. I will try it again later this week. Will have to eat these cookies first. =-))))

  33. Marieke says:

    Hello Wanda,

    Was it the speculaas spices or the structure of the cookies, that made that you thought it wasn’t like speculaas? I would like to know. We got a nice supple dough with 2 tablespoons of milk, but maybe it also depends on the type of flour used and the amount of moisture it needs etc.
    You could also try different spice mixtures to get the taste you like.

    Would love to hear your favourite, so we can try it too!

    Have fun with the baking!

    Marieke

  34. wanda says:

    Today I’ve tried a totally deferent recipe and I have to say that the first one was much better. So I’ll try it again!!!! (3rd time)
    Maybe I made them too thick? They should be very thin right? What if I leave the baking powder out??
    Also…the color was to light. Speculaas should be very dark.
    Maybe I’ve used the wrong sugar? Can you use Molasses sugar?

  35. Marieke says:

    Hi Wanda,

    Leaving out the baking powder will result in a ‘denser’, less brittle cookie. You could try it, and see what you think of the result. It’s also to do with personal taste of course.
    We use a very dark brown sugar (indeed like molasses) from the organic store, which has a lot of taste, the same goes for the cinnamon, the organic version is much more distinctive than the stuff from the supermarket. Another tip you might find useful is to leave the dough to rest overnight. It will only get better that way, because all the ingredients have time to settle and blend.
    The thickness of the speculaas is dictated by the mold you use, if you do not use molds, then try to role it out to between at least 2 mm up to 4 mm.

    Good luck with the next round, and I love to hear the results!

    Marieke

  36. This year, we’re celebrating Sinterklass for the first timeever…see, we’re Nigerian so the whole speculaas, pepernoten et al is a bit interesting. The bit I’m looking forward to most – Lootjes trekken and making a boterstaf with almond paste, vanilla seeds and orange zest.

  37. Marieke says:

    Hi Butterfly,

    You are going to have so much fun with your speculaas, spijs and boterstaaf!
    These items are definitely among the most treasured culinary traditions we Dutch people have.

    Have a great Sinterklaasfeest!

    Marieke

  38. Hi Marieke…one more q please. Is the wheat flour – patent bloem or volkoren? Plan is to make the speculaas tomorrow before the fest! Prettige Sinterklaas

  39. Marieke says:

    Hi Butterfly,

    What I meant by wheat flour is what we call ‘tarwebloem’ in Holland. It’s sort of a light brown version of the ‘volkoren’. But you can also use ‘patentbloem’ which is very fine white flour.
    I use the ‘tarwebloem’ from the mill because it has more taste and also more fibre than the patentbloem. But as I said, both will do the job.

    Hope it turns out great,

    Marieke

  40. Aah…see I never knew Tarwe bloem was the light brown flour, I always assumed it was the same as volkoren. Anyhow, this time I didn’t make the speculaas but the Sinterklaas fest was prima. Gezelligheid at its peak!

  41. JP says:

    Great thank you very much! I am looking forward to giving these another shot.

    When I did my first run, I did not do the rest and refrigerate – I went straight to molds. I found the dough pretty easy to work with overall.

    The thing I learned quick though was my over must run hot, so it burnt the cookies a bit. Also, a general tip to readers is not to mix different molds on the same sheet and cooking cycle because every cookie will different in baking time.

    Couple of additional questions:

    1) By raw sugar – you mean like turbinado – the big granules of raw cane sugar?

    2) The flavor of these cookies overall is great! Personal preference – I’d like even a little more spice to come through. Do you have any suggestions on if I should increase a certain spice in the spice mix, or just use a tad more in making the dough?

    Thanks again!

  42. JP says:

    To the poster above who posted the U.S. conversions: please don’t take it personally, but your math is way off! For example, 250 grams of wheat flour is more like 2 cups and change and 50 grams of raw cane sugar is more like 1/4 cup and a tsp. It looks like you may have just done a straight gram to cup conversion which is never accurate because of the density of ingredients.

    I would recommend using this website if you don’t have a way of weighing as they provide conversions for common ingredients: http://www.gourmetsleuth.com/gram_calc.htm

    Of course, there’s no substitute for just weighing!

    Made more of this dough tonight: by hand is definitely the trick.

  43. Marieke says:

    Hi JP,

    Yes, here in Holland, raw cane sugar (ruwe rietsuiker) is the brownish-yellow sugar with bigger granules (and more taste then the refined white sugar). I think we are on the same page, but I have never heard of turbinado I have to say.

    About the spices. The spices we use usually are organic and we make sure they are as fresh as possible (you wouldn’t believe the old tins people have laying around, way past their date and with very little taste left in them..and still using it). We grind and pound spices like cloves and nutmeg ourselves. This in itself gives more taste, so maybe, for this reason,we are a bit ‘conservative’ with the amounts of our spices. My first suggestion would be to add a little bit more of the whole mixture. And you can also play with it, depending on personal taste, adding a bit more ginger for an extra kick or more aniseed for sweetness etcetera. There are also other spices like mace and cardamom that you can add. To make a long story short: lots of trial runs to get that perfect speculaasje! Let me know if you have found the one you love best, so I can try it out too!

    Have fun with the baking,

    Marieke

  44. JP says:

    Thanks again Marieke! I definitely understand about the spices – and although mine aren’t outdated, they definitely wouldn’t be nearly as good as fresh ground! I will let you know how the latest batch comes out following the directions the correct way and after the holidays pass by I’ll probably play with the recipe to see how I can get more of spicy kick.

    Happy Holidays,
    JP

  45. Mooglosaurus says:

    Hello, this message just to tell you I have found your recipe and absolutely love it!

    I translated it in French on my blog http://mooglosaurus.blogspot.com/2011/09/speculoos-20.html

    Hope this is ok :)
    Thanks for this recipe!!

    • Weekend Bakers says:

      Allo Mooglo,
      Yes I am Dutch and I also love my speculaas with hot cocoa. Thanks for liking the recipe and hope more French and Belgo-Français people will try it and like it too.

      Happy baking,

      Marieke

  46. Elizabeth says:

    Hi everyone,
    I lived in Amsterdam from 1976 to 1993 and every year Saskia offered her spekulaas on our bus trips to Utrecht.I played inthe NEDPHO.
    I have a batch in the fridge(using an egg to cream the sugar-didn’t really come out well last time) waiting to go into the oven. I intended to try a few recipes so look forward to making a more genuine spekulaas without egg and a few more accurately weighed spices.The letter scale is a good idea. I have an old one. It will be a bit fiddly as I have to clip a celophane bag of spice on each time.Very nice to read letters(in dutch) from such enthusiastic bakers(English bakers letters also nice!!!)

    • Weekend Bakers says:

      Hello Elizabeth,
      Thank you for your lovely addition to this speculaas topic. No egg needed for the recipe as you can see. Hope the weighing of the spices goes to plan and you end up with a wonderful fragrant mixture.

      Happy baking and happy holidays,

      Marieke

  47. laura says:

    Altough I was born in Mexico and have lived here all my life, my grandparents lwere dutch but eft Holland during WWII, traditions from that country have been part of my life, and spekulaas one of them. Last year my husband, who loves to cook ,”googled” the cookie recipie, we tried using a traditional spekulaas mold that was a wedding present for my parents more than 40 years ago, but it was too slow. We ended using christmas cookie cutters, but the flavor was great, my kids loved them (it is the first time they tried them) and we have given them as a homemade present to friends, who have enjoyed them. I was wondering if there is a site or a store in the US where I can get a spekulass mold to make bigger cookies, I saw one in the shape of St. Nick, that I loved and would love to get one. Thanks for the recipie.

    • Weekend Bakers says:

      Hello Laura,
      It is amazing how many connections there are between Dutch people and people from Dutch ancestry abroad. Also with words like cookie and waffle and words connected with traditions like Santa Claus from our Sinterklaas. Sort of nice to know we made a little mark, especially with food and baking for we do not have an impressive food culture in Holland. But everybody seems to like speculaas and it is wonderful to imagine people all over the world baking it during the festive season.
      As for the molds, have you seen the two suggestions with links for sites that sell molds in the US at the bottom of the recipe?
      Cookie Mold
      &
      House on the hill
      Hope one of them has what you are looking for.

      Happy holidays and happy baking!

      Marieke

  48. Hi/hallo there!

    What an excellent recipe. My grandfather, grandmother and father were bakers in Antwerp up until the 1980s, and I inherited a collection of large speculaas moulds from them, in the shape of old men and women with crooked nosed and hump backs – this was traditional around carnival time. Here are my experiences cutting the speculaas dough:

    - First off, rice flour is completely indispensable :)
    - I found knives for cutting really, really hard. And then I remembered something I’d seen my grandfather do: he used wire to cut the excess dough! It works a treat. I ended up using some fishing wire (nylon). Perfect cuts every time.
    - When the excess dough is removed, I found rubbing gently inwards at the edges of the mould, in order to loosen the dough, worked really well.

    Ahhh. Thank you so much! And now… time for speculaas.

    Groetjes,
    Peter

    • Weekend Bakers says:

      Hello Peter,
      Thank you so much for sharing. I just love your tips, especially the one about the wire and I am going to bake an extra batch of speculaas because I cannot wait to try it myself.
      My grandfather also was a baker and he had a ‘speculaasmachientje’ with a handle that you had to turn (something like this I think: http://zoom.nl/foto/full/1107927/portret/speculaas.html?object=album&object_id=8996. I have never seen it but my mother recalls it worked perfectly.
      Jealous (in a good way :)) of your original molds, the ones you can buy in the shops now are far from perfect, most are too shallow and probably only good to be used as decoration. The ones we use are not perfect either, but they work with probably more than average use of rice flour and a bit of light swearing.

      Enjoy your speculaas and the baking!

      Marieke

      • Hi Marieke,

        Oh, that ‘speculaasmachientje’ looks like the ticket for enormous amounts of baking pleasure! I’d never seen that.

        I hope the wire cutting works well for you too. Just pull it reasonably tightly against the wood and gently go from side to side as you’re cutting, I found that worked great.

        Cheers!
        Peter

        • Weekend Bakers says:

          Thanks Peter!
          This weekend a (fishing enthusiast) friend will bring different kinds of wire with him so we ca try it out. Really happy with this tip :)

          Marieke

          PS: Acting on a tip from another comment I also made a trial batch speculaas dough with fine spelt flour (spelt bloem) and I am really pleased with the end result (just made cookie cutter shapes, not yet with the molds)

  49. Els says:

    sorry, i did not realize this was so long ago with my other reply. Do you use this recept also for pepernoten? or something else?

    • Weekend Bakers says:

      Hi Els,
      You can use it for kruidnoten too but my favorite is speculaas filled with almond paste!

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  52. Katka says:

    Hi,
    I tried today with my wooden molds for biscuits. The taste is great, however, during the baking process, all speculaas poured out so they lost their nice shape completely. What did I do wrong?

    • Weekend Bakers says:

      Hi Katka,
      First of all make sure the dough is cold enough when rolling it and after you molded the cookies you can again put them in the fridge for 30 minutes so when you put them in the hot oven they hopefully firm up before they get a chance to spread.
      I would also suggest using a little less butter and/or a bit more flour than the recipe says if the spreading is very bad. Maybe it also has to do with the different (brand) ingredients you use, they can react differently. Butter for example can contain more or less water depending on the type and brand.

      Hope you will get the perfect next time!

      Marieke

  53. Wow, these are to die for! I just ate 4 in a row! I cheated and used a snowflake plunger cutter as I don’t have any Speculaas forms and they’re not easy to find here in the UK. So much simpler to get out, although not as authentic. Am going to invest in some more plunger cutters so I can make as Christmas gifts. Thanks ever so much for sharing the recipe.

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  56. Carol Ross-Baumann says:

    I tried three speculaas recipes this year and this one wins hands-down on taste and crispness. I also had a problem with the impressions from the boards losing their sharpness during baking, but think I’ll need to add more flour next time and that should solve the problem. My dough was a little soft and sticky after refrigeration- I think it should be stiffer and not sticky at all. I always keep everything cold, too, and rarely have problems releasing the cookie from the mold.
    I have some Dutch heritage in my family so I think it’s very important to try to keep some of the food traditions going. I loved fiddling around with the spices, too. Normally I just follow the recipe, but you’re right about the pleasure of mixing your own- I had a delivery man ask me what smelled so good in my house while I was experimenting! Thanks for the recipe- it’s wonderful!

    • Weekend Bakers says:

      Hello Carol,

      What a great thing to hear about you wanting to keep (Dutch) food traditions alive. Glad our recipe can be a little piece of that! Recipes almost always need a little adjustment because ingredients, equipment and hands are all different as you well know of course. It usually takes us a few turns to get it just right, but it’s all part of the baking and we always try to enjoy it all. And even if breads and cookies aren’t perfect to the eye, they are usually very edible and lots of times better and more fulfilling and rewarding (not even taking about healthier) than the store bought products.

      Happy Baking and a very Happy New Year from Holland,

      Ed & Marieke

      PS: Another very Dutch baking suggestion: Appelflappen! http://www.weekendbakery.com/posts/dutch-appelflappen-with-home-made-rough-puff-pastry/ They are almost everybodies favorite :O

  57. Carol Ross-Baumann says:

    Appelflappen looks yummy! Will give it a try- thanks!

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  59. Rachel J says:

    Hi Marieke,

    Thanks so much for the recipe. I bought a pair of biscuit molds in a bakery while on holiday in Bruges a few weeks ago, and wanted to make proper speculaas with them. My first batch tastes amazing, but some of my biscuits have spread a little while they were cooking, and are larger than others. Do you know why this might have happened? I want to get them perfect, because I’m planning to make them as Christmas presents for my family!

    Thanks,
    Rachel

    • Weekend Bakers says:

      Hi Rachel,

      How nice, we absolutely love Bruges and visit it regularly. As for the speculaas I am afraid, as is often the case with baking, there can be a number of reasons for the spreading of cookies. Because you say some have spread I am guessing the main culprit is your oven. It could be that there are ‘hot spots’ that would explain some cookies setting alright and others being able to spread before they set. It could be an idea to turn your baking sheet after about 10 minutes of baking.
      Next to that you could play a bit with the oven temp by adding 5 degrees for example. You can also look at your ingredients. The butter and sugar and the ratio between them play a big role in how the cookie turns out. If butter for example contains too much water it can cause more spreading. In any case it is important to measure your ingredients carefully.
      You can also use a little less baking powder. And make sure when creaming the butter and sugar not to overdo it and beat in too much air.
      And last point: the baking sheet you use should be a good solid one and not a silicon sheet, to get good heat transfer also from the bottom.

      Make notes and change one thing at a time, so you know what makes the difference.

      Good luck with it and happy baking!

      Marieke

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  63. SaraHS says:

    I’ve been making speculaas for more than 20 years and I have never been quite satisfied with the recipes I have been able to find in American cookbooks and, more recently, on the internet. I came across your recipe today and gave it a try in preparation for our family’s (delayed) St. Nicholas party tomorrow. Converting the recipe was easy with a kitchen scale that measures both grams and ounces. I chilled the dough for about eight hours and found it easy to use with my wooden cookie molds — next year I am going to try dusting them with rice flour, but unbleached wheat flour works too. When my (Dutch) husband tried the finished cookies he said they are the best ones yet! I am still going to fiddle with the spice mixture but — Lekker! Thank you so much for sharing!

  64. Robyn says:

    Seasons greetings from New Zealand

    I write to say thank you for the speculaas recipe you have developed. With no moulds, today I have used biscuit cutters, stars and christmas trees, in making a test bake. I love both the texture and the flavour. Over the years I have tried many recipes to try and duplicate the commercial ‘windmills’ but none have ever been satisfactory – let alone wonderful as these are. I will be making more as Christmas gifts. Thank you so much.

    • Weekend Bakers says:

      Hi Robin,
      Great to hear. Thanks for trying out our recipe.
      I just know the speculaasjes will be appreciated!

      Happy Holiday baking!

      Marieke

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