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Sunday, February 5, 2012

Speculaas Cookies

Over the summer on a Delta flight to California, I tasted my first biscoff cookie.  How is it that I had never tried one of these things before?  I became (not so) mildly obsessed and briefly debated buying them in absurd quantities from their website.  Fortunately, I controlled myself and just dreamed about the little cookies instead.  Then on a trip to NY to visit family, I was wandering around a specialty grocery store and came across Biscoff Spread.  Are you kidding me?!  Ground up cookies spread on whatever I want just like nutella?  After tasting the spread (and immediately buying a jar of the delicious stuff) I became curious what these little cookies were.  After some research I found this description on their website: "Europe's favorite Cookie with Coffee Biscoff is the name given to the traditional Speculoos biscuits in North America".   Soon after I saw that "Speculaas" was on our list of things to bake for Club Baked, I was so excited!  I get to make my own biscoff!

Apparently there is a bit of a difference between Speculaas and Speculoos.  According to one Flemish company that makes them with "the old method," "the Dutch speculaas is a thicker, spiced gingerbread. The Belgian speculoos, or caramelised biscuit, is thinner and has a more refined taste" (Vermeiren Speculoos).  The "Baked Explorations" recipe is called "Speculaas" so I was expecting them to be different from my beloved Biscoff.  I baked according to the recipe making no changes besides using light brown instead of dark brown sugar and omitting the orange zest (because I didn't have either of those things).  I also let the dough sit in the fridge overnight because I had read on one website somewhere that this allows the flavors in speculaas dough to give the spices time to develop and add extra flavor.    

I may have taken them out of the oven too soon because mine were not dry and crispy, they were soft and chewy.  But that was a good thing for us since Daniel is 100% a chewy cookie person.  Normally he does not like spiced cookies but these mysteriously disappeared from our cookie jar very quickly.  "Spiced gingerbread" is a good description for this cookie recipe, they were quite different from those Biscoff cookies.      

My one complaint about this recipe is that it was too sticky and nearly impossible to use cookie cutters.  Instead, I wound up using a pizza wheel and cutting it into squares.  Admittedly, the stickiness was probably my own fault though due to my laziness since I really didn't flour my surface very well.  When I got really lazy, at the end I just started rolling balls of dough with my hand and rolling them in turbinado sugar.  Those ones came out nice and thick, and with a caramelized sugar bottom - quite perfect for our tastes. 

You can find the recipe here at Baked Sunday Mornings. And make sure to read through the Bakers Links to Speculaas to see how this recipe worked out for other (less lazy) bakers.


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