It’s all about the spices. Make sure they are fresh!
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This speculaas recipe is really not that different from the original speculaas recipe we have been using for years. The truth is the biggest diffidence is the addition of just a little bit more buttermilk and a touch of extra baking powder.
The most important ingredient to look out for is the right kind of spelt flour. It has to be fine or ‘white’ spelt flour, so not the whole grain variety. Of course you can go ahead and use it if you want to, but personally I think the cookie works best with the fine flour.
Almonds and speculaas are a classic and much loved combination. But the addition of candied orange peel is something you do not see that often. I came across it a while ago and decided to try it with these cookies and I just love how well the bitter orange works with the spices and almonds. Just make sure to chop /shred the candied peel as fine as possible. This way you get the excellent speculaas taste with hints of orange.
Of course it is perfectly fine to make the recipe without the slivered almonds or candied orange.
Recipe for the speculaas spelt dough
175 g fine spelt flour
75 g dairy butter at room temperature
95 g soft light brown sugar
7 g / 2 tsps baking powder
3 g / 1/2 tsp baking soda
25 g buttermilk or milk/yoghurt combi
2.5 tsps / 7 g speculaas spices* (see recipe here)
few pinches of salt
Very finely chopped candied orange peel
fine rice flour to dust the molds
a speculaas mold made of wood
*Alternatively you can use mixed spices or pumpkin pie spices. If you are going to make the spice mixture yourself, you can make it in advance, so you’ll have it ready.
Preheat the oven at 165ºC / 330ºF conventional setting.
Sift the flour with the baking powder, baking soda, salt, spices and add the very finely chopped orange peel.
Note: You can also leave out the baking soda. With it you will get a more brittle cookie, without it the cookie will be 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. Press the ball into a disc shape, cover and rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. You can also make this dough a day in advance, so the ingredients get a chance to really blend together.
Take the dough out of the fridge. Sprinkle or brush 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 that easy sometimes, they might need a bit of help from a blunt knife or guide them with your finger) and place them on a baking tray. You can add the 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. Take them out and leave the speculaas on the baking tray for a few minutes to firm up. Transfer them to a rack to cool completely.