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Dutch spice biscuits: Speculaas (Speculoos)

The fragrance of these delicate, buttery biscuits is irresistible. Warm and comforting, they make a perfect Christmas gift or a nice little treat for yourself.

While in Holland last year I picked up a little tub of Specerijenmix: Koek en Speculaas so that I could recreate these little beauties at home. To make your own mix, I’d recommend using this recipe from CookingWithGifs. Traditionally these are made with beautiful biscuit presses, but as I didn’t think to pick any up along with the spice mix, I made simple star shapes instead. Using different sized shapes is handy as you can use begin with the larger ones and use the smaller to get into all the little leftover spaces. they can also be stacked and stuck together to make little Christmas trees.

There are also many recipes which include almonds in some form: slivered, flaked or meal. I’ve chosen a nut-free variation as these are the ones which I prefer.

Ingredients

  • 235g plain flour
  • 115g unsalted butter
  • 75g white sugar
  • 175g dark brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 2 tbsp speculaas spice mix
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Equipment

  • Baking trays – 2 or more is ideal
  • Rolling pin
  • Cling film
  • Lots of baking paper
  • Sharp knife
  • Biscuit cutters

Method

  1. Cream butter and sugars until light and smooth.
  2. Stir through baking soda, salt and spices.
  3. Add vanilla and egg and combine well.
  4. Bring the dough together into a roughly rectangular/log shape and wrap in cling film.
  5. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours (preferably overnight).
  6. Remove dough and cut lengthways into slices, about 1-2cm thick. (This makes it easier to roll out the dough without getting too soft and unworkable.) Place each slice between two sheets of baking paper and roll out until 5mm thick.
  7. Cut shapes into the dough and return to the fridge. Repeat with each slice of dough.

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8. Remove one sheet of biscuits from the fridge at a time. Slowly pull the excess dough from around the shapes. Carefully lift each shape and gently place it on a tray lined with baking paper, leaving 1-2cm cm between biscuits.

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9. Bake for 10-12 minutes, just until the edges of the smallest biscuits are beginning to brown. They will be soft when removed from the oven but will firm up as they cool. You can remove them sightly earlier if you prefer a softer biscuit.

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These keep well for a few weeks in an airtight container. For a gift, you could stick them together with a little icing made from sugar and egg white or water and dusted with icing sugar to look pretty and Christmassy (see above).

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