Speculaas are a popular Dutch biscuit, quite strongly spiced and with a tangy kick from brown sugar. Although traditionally these are eaten for the feast of St Nicholas, they are too nice to eat just once a year!
Commercial versions of the biscuit are often very crispy but traditionally these biscuits are quite thick – more a thin cake than a normal biscuit, in fact the name translates as ‘spice cake’. This recipe can be made either way (or both, to compare both versions). The biscuits are often stamped with a windmill or other design but if you don’t have a Speculaas mold handy you can just cut flat biscuits or, like I did here, use a Madeleine or gem cake tray instead. Almond meal is not in every recipe but I love the extra flavour and crunch it gives. If not liked, substitute the almond meal for 1/3 cup more flour. I based the spice mixture on this recipe, which is also worth a read.
1 cup plain flour
1/2 cup almond meal
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1/3 cup caster sugar
1 tbsp milk
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla essence
2 tsp spice (see below for spice mix, or just use cinnamon)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp grated/powdered nutmeg
1/4 tsp powdered cloves
1/4 tsp ginger powder
scant 1/4 tsp each of white pepper & cardamom powder
Cut the butter into small pieces. Add to a mixing bowl with sugars and mix to a paste with a fork or fingertips. Stir in the egg.
Sift baking powder and flour into the mixing bowl and add the almond meal. Mix well.
Add spice mixture and vanilla essence.
Knead the mixture together. If it is too dry to form a smooth ball of dough, add a tiny amount of milk and mix again. Repeat until a smooth ball can be formed. If the dough is too sticky to handle easily, knead in a little flour.
Wrap the dough in cling wrap and leave in the fridge for a few hours or overnight.
To shape, roll out dough to the desired thickness. Cut with a cookie cutter and bake at 180C/350F for 15-20 minutes or until the edges are browning. Thicker biscuits will take a little longer.
Remove and allow to cool in trays before removing, so they don’t fall apart.