Speculaas

Ginger biscuits

Anon (see below)

Speculoos

When you get a coffee in the Low Countries (Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg, parts of Germany, France, and even Denmark), you get a little ginger biscuit, usually in a cellophane wrapper. These are variously called Speculoos or Speculaas and similar names, and you can buy them in the supermarkets in big packets, moulded to a thin oblong or gingerbread-man shape. I hadn’t seen them elsewhere, and I mentioned this to a Dutch colleague at a dental research meeting in Amsterdam. He asked his wife and she kindly offered to write out her family recipe for them, so here they are. You need to prepare the dough the previous day, and ideally equip yourself with a wooden Speculoos mould to shape them.

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Makes 48. Heat your (conventional) oven to 175°C. Prep time: 20 minutes + 8 hours (firming up). Cooking time: 30 minutes.


Ingredients

  • 1 cup dark brown sugar [eg Muscovado]
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • 3 cups sifted flour
  • 1½ tsp ground clove
  • 1½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¾ tsp ground ginger
  • ¾ tsp grated nutmeg
  • pinch baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1¼ cups butter
  • ¼ cup slivered blanched almonds

Method

  1. In a small bowl combine the sugar and milk, and stir until smooth.

  2. In a large bowl, sift the flour with the clove, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, baking powder, and salt.

  3. With a pastry blender (or two knives), cut the butter into the mixture until it is like cornmeal.

  4. Add the almonds and mix well.

  5. If you are not using a mould, shape the chilled dough into two rolls about 4cm in diameter, otherwise leave as a lump.

  6. Wrap in foil or cling film and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.

  7. Lightly grease a baking sheet.

  8. If using a wooden mould: brush the carvings in the mould well with a stiff brush, but do not wash. Dust well with flour. Press enough chilled dough into the mould to fill it completely, then with a small knife cut around the edge of the pattern, removing the trimmings. Invert a flat plate dusted in flour over the mould, then turn both over together so that the mould is on top. Tap lightly to release the dough onto the plate, then slide it off into the baking sheet. Repeat until the sheet is full.

  9. Without a mould: using a lightly floured surface, cut each roll into ¼" slices and arrange on a baking sheet.

  10. Bake 20-30 minutes (slightly less for the sliced dough done without a mould) or until light golden brown. Leave to cool.


Keep in an airtight container.


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