Speculaas, or speculoos, the dark brown, spiced Christmas biscuits, are easy to make at home. Basically, speculaas are shortbread biscuits that have slightly less fat content, making them crispier than other biscuits. Follow our recipe for best results.
Speculaas spice mix
Typical spices for Speculaas biscuits are
- sometimes used: ginger powder or vanilla
It is not clear, where these spiced cookies originate, but it is very likely the area of Belgium, The Netherlands and Germany. These spices had to be imported and were expensive. That’s why speculoos historically originated along trade routes.
Since the spices were so expensive, other varieties have developed, such as the butter speculoos or almond speculoos. Because of the spices, you might think that Speculaas are gingerbread , but in fact they are shortbread.
Also important is a strong caramel flavour, which is produced by the brown sugar. Nowadays, if you buy them in the supermarket, they are usually coloured with molasses, which supports this characteristic taste. You can also use fine-grained cane sugar, but then increase the amount of sugar by about 10 %.
In Indonesia, speculoos are also found in bakeries and shops all year round. This is due to the, inglorious, former colonisation by the Netherlands.
A brief history of the Spekulatius
The name for the delicious Christmas biscuit comes from “speculator” (“bishop” or “overseer”) an epithet of St. Nicholas, after whom the biscuit was named. Like many baked goods, spiced speculoos has its roots in religion and has been baked since around the 10th century.
It was originally baked on 6 December in honour of this very bishop. The biscuits were baked in hand-carved wooden moulds called models. Today, however, the motifs on the little biscuits have changed and you can do as you like.
How does a speculoos roll work?
For the typical pictures on your spiced speculoos biscuits, roll the speculoos roller* along the thinly rolled out dough. The rectangular divisions pre-perforate the individual biscuits so that you then only have to separate them from each other. You may need a small knife to do this.
Make sure you only roll the roller vigorously, not push it forward. If any dough sticks, remove it carefully before continuing.
Keep your homemade spiced speculoos completely sealed, preferably in a biscuit tin. Like all shortbread biscuits, they absorb moisture and quickly lose their great crunch.
Grandma’s famous spiced Speculaas
- Mixing bowl
- Baking tray
- Baking parchment
- 450 g all purpose flour
- 300 g brown sugar or cane sugar
- 150 g butter
- 3 tablespoons milk
- 1 egg
- ½ tsp salt
- 2½ tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground cloves
- 1 tsp cardamom ground
- ¼ tsp white pepper
- 1 small pinch ground nutmeg
- Put the flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl and mix together. Cut the cold butter into small pieces and carefully rub them into the flour mixture, a little at a time, with your fingers. Now add the cold milk, egg and all the spices. Knead the dough quickly until it is homogeneous, form a ball and chill it covered for at least 2 hours. For best results, chill the dough overnight, i.e. for a good 12 hours.
- Then preheat the oven to 180° C.
- Take the dough out again and roll it out evenly on a floured surface. Cut out the speculoos with suitable moulds or use a practical wooden embossing roller. You can also simply cut rectangles or squares.
- Place the Spekulatius on a baking tray lined with baking paper and bake in the preheated oven for about 10-12 minutes. They will still be slightly soft, but will firm up when they cool.