December 5th, 2010
Photo of Sinterklaas coming into Amsterdam via boat with a stack of our freshly baked Speculaas.
Wrapped & ready to go.
The inspiration: Dutch Magazine “SINT”, Wouter brought this home from his recent trip full of wonderful old photos and new stories of December 5th Sinterklaas celebrations & memories & recipes.
We don’t have any canals outside our house or boats for Sinterklaas to arrive at our home on 5th Avenue here in Nashville, but a few days before December 5th we invited a few friends & family for a small, last-minute “Sinterklaas Brunch” anyway. The Cumberland River is just a few blocks away so you never know?
Wouter made his spectacular, traditional Speculaas cookies to celebrate. We don’t have any of the “molds” normally used so we just made our own “free-form” designs.
First we made the spice mixture needed for the cookies and for this you will need: 2 Tbsp Ground Cinnamon; 1 tsp ground cloves; 1 tsp ground nutmeg; 1/2 tsp white pepper; 1/2 tsp ginger powder; 1/4 tsp ground coriander; 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
Put all ingredients into an airtight jar, shake well and set aside.
Ingredients & Instructions for Speculaas:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour; 3 tsp baking powder; 3/4 cup brown sugar; 1 1/2 Tbsp spice mixture; 1 cup butter (2 sticks); just enough milk to wet mixture to create a dough; 1 cup whole blanched almonds
1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Add all dry ingredients to a large mixing bowl. Cut butter into chunks and add to bowl.
2. Using fingers or a pastry cutter blend ingredients together until all ingredients are well incorporated and begin to form a crumbly dough.
3. Drizzle enough milk over dough to form a ball.
4. Place dough on a lightly floured surface & pat into a flattened round. Using a rolling-pin that has been dusted with flour roll dough out to about 1/4 inch thick slab. As you roll, stop & pat dough into a rectangular shape. Dust board, dough & rolling-pin as needed with additional flour. Transfer dough to a buttered & lightly floured baking sheet.
5. Place whole almonds decoratively over surface of Speculaas dough, lightly pressing into surface.
We really like lots of almonds in our Speculaas so Wouter covered the surface. Notice how beautiful the dough is with all those “hand-print” impressions on the surface. This particular large shape Wouter calls “Broken Speculaas” as after it is baked you just serve and everyone “breaks” off a piece. A very beautiful organic dessert with a nice cup of coffee, tea or Cava.
6. Place in pre-heated oven. Bake for about 25 to 30 minutes until slightly puffed &edges are golden brown. Remove from oven. Cool a bit before serving. Great warm or room temp.
We wanted to give away a few Speculaas as well as send some to Wouter’s Mother, Elizabeth in Amsterdam, so we made a second batch (same recipe) except we made the cookies smaller.
Chocolate letters….a fun tradition…everyone gets their first name, first letter!
We had eggs baked with cream, Benton bacon, Apple Pannekoeken, chilled Cava & Blood Orange/Ruby Grapefruit juice.
This is the cookbook that has the recipe for the Speculaas. It is the cookbook that came with the gas oven Wouter’s parent’s bought in 1957. That same oven is still in their kitchen in Amsterdam. We use it when we are there and it works like a charm. The cover makes me smile.
A bit of History: Speculaas (Dutch pronunciation: [spekyˈlaːs], French spéculoos) is a type of shortcrust biscuit, traditionally baked for consumption on St Nicholas’ Eve in theNetherlands (December 5) and Belgium (December 6). In recent decades it has become available all year round. Speculaas are thin, very crunchy & slightly browned.
In the United States speculaas are often sold as Dutch Windmill cookies.