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Speculaas

Speculaas - also know as 'windmill cookies', are great with tea, coffee or a glass of cognac.

The traditional method calls for using a speculaasplank, a carved wooden board, but there is no need to go on a special shopping expedition - a regular cookie cutter will do fine.

Ingredients:

  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tsp speculaaskruiden or pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 cup donkerbruine basterdsuiker (see tips below) or pure cane sugar (demerera)
  • 7 tbsp butter
  • 2-3 tbsp milk
  • The finely grated zest of half an orange
  • Extra flour to dust the work surface

Optional: 1 egg white, beaten Extra brown sugar Flaked almonds

Directions:

  1. Mix together the flour, baking powder salt and spices in a large bowl until well combined.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients, mix until combined, then knead. You should be able to shape the dough into a ball without it sticking to your hands.
  3. Cover the dough ball with plastic wrap and set aside for an hour.
  4. Preheat the oven to 347 F. Grease a baking sheet.
  5. Flour your work surface and press your dough into an even, flat layer.
  6. Using a cookie cutter, cut shapes from the dough and place on the greased baking sheet.
  7. Brush with egg white and sprinkle some brown sugar and flaked almonds on top of each cookie if desired.
  8. Bake for about 10-25 minutes, depending on the size and thickness of the cookies, or until you can see that the almonds are caramelizing and the cookies are turning a slightly darker shade of brown.
  9. Remove from the baking sheet and allow to cool on a cooling rack.

Makes about 2 dozen speculaas cookies.

TIPS:

Basterdsuiker is a typical Dutch product, manufactured by adding invert sugar and other ingredients to fine white refined sugar. This mixture helps to achieve certain textural structures and keeps baked goods moist. There are three varieties, white, brown and dark brown, called witte basterdsuiker, (licht)bruine basterdsuiker or gele basterdsuiker and donkerbruine basterdsuiker.

It is widely available from Dutch supermarkets and some Dutch groceries on the internet. I've had good results substituting the donkerbruine basterdsuiker in this recipe with pure cane sugar (demerera).