Belgian Spice Cookies (Speculoos)

I am mildly obsessed with Biscoff cookies. They are my absolute favorite store-bought cookies (Trader Joe’s Maple Leaf Cookies are a close second…) When my friend shared this version from America’s Test Kitchen, I knew that I had to include them in my Christmas cookie assortment this year. I doubled the recipe. 😉

This recipe was adapted from America’s Test Kitchen via wskg.org.  I rolled out the dough and placed it in the refrigerator overnight. I also froze the cut dough prior to baking to help it maintain its cut shape. I weighed the flour and sugar and used freshly ground spices.

These cookies have the ultimate crispy texture. My husband thought that they had more cardamom than the store-bought version, possibly because I used freshly ground cardamom, but I thought that they were perfect. 🙂 Yum!

Yield: 32 cookies

  • 1 1/2 cups (7 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 5 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 3/4 cup (6 ounces) turbinado sugar (see note)
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces and chilled
  • 1 large egg
  1. Separately, grind cloves and cardamom in a spice grinder.
  2. Whisk flour, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together in bowl.
  3. Using pencil and ruler, draw 10 by 12-inch rectangle in center of each of 2 large sheets of parchment paper, crisscrossing lines at corners. (Use crisscrosses to help line up top and bottom sheets as dough is rolled.)
  4. Process sugar in food processor for 30 seconds (some grains will be smaller than granulated sugar; others will be larger).
  5. Add butter and process until uniform mass forms and no large pieces of butter are visible, about 30 seconds, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.
  6. Add egg and process until smooth and paste-like, about 10 seconds, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.
  7. Add flour mixture and process until no dry flour remains but mixture remains crumbly, about 30 seconds, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.
  8. Transfer dough to bowl and knead gently with spatula until uniform and smooth, about 10 seconds.
  9. Place 1 piece of parchment on counter with pencil side facing down (you should be able to see rectangle through paper).
  10. Place dough in center of marked rectangle and press into 6 by 9-inch rectangle. Place second sheet of parchment over dough, with pencil side facing up, so dough is in center of marked rectangle. Using pencil marks as guide, use rolling pin and bench scraper to shape dough into 10 by 12-inch rectangle of even thickness, about 1/4 to 1/8-inch thick. (If the dough spreads beyond the rectangle, trim it and use the scraps to fill in the corners; then, replace the parchment and continue to roll.)
  11. Transfer dough with parchment to rimmed baking sheet.
  12. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until dough is firm, at least 1 1/2 hours (or freeze for 30 minutes). (Rolled dough can be wrapped in plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 5 days.)(I refrigerated it overnight.)
  13. Adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lowermiddle positions and heat oven to 300 degrees, preferably on convection.
  14. Line 2 rimless baking sheets with parchment. Transfer chilled dough to counter. Gently peel off top layer of parchment from dough.
  15. Using fluted pastry wheel (or sharp knife or pizza cutter) and ruler, trim off rounded edges of dough that extend over marked edges of 10 by 12-inch rectangle.
  16. Cut dough lengthwise into 8 equal strips about 1¼ inches wide. Cut each strip crosswise into 4 equal pieces about 3 inches long.
  17. Freeze cut dough until firm, about 5 to 10 minutes.
  18. Transfer cookies to prepared sheets, spacing them at least 1/2 inch apart.
  19. Bake until cookies are lightly and evenly browned, 30 to 32 minutes, switching and rotating sheets halfway through baking.
  20. Let cookies cool completely on sheets, about 20 minutes. Cookies can be stored at room temperature for up to 3 weeks.

Note: If you can’t find Sugar in the Raw, use 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (6 ounces) of packed light brown sugar and skip the sugar grinding step.

* Do not use cookie molds or an embossed rolling pin for the speculoos; they will not hold decorations.*

Swedish Spice Cookies (Muskotsnittar)

These buttery spice cookies may be the closest I’ve come to replicating my favorite Biscoff cookies. They were especially wonderful warm. Known as Muskotsnittar in Sweden, or nutmeg slices, they are also very easy to make. Freshly ground nutmeg is essential.

This recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart, via Martha Bakes on PBS. I weighed the flour, refrigerated the dough, modified the baking time, and trimmed the edges after baking. Yum.

Yield: Makes about 48 cookies

Speculoos-Toffee Cookies

These were a perfect choice for a Father’s Day dessert for my husband. Two of his absolute favorite flavors combined in a crispy on the outside- chewy on the inside cookie. Their flavor was reminiscent of Pepperidge Farm “Bordeaux” cookies- a childhood favorite of my husband’s and mine. Delicious!

This recipe was adapted from Food.com, via Jess @ Cooking is my Sport. I made them slightly smaller and used Trader Joe’s chunky Speculoos cookie butter. They would also be insanely delicious as a cookie-wich!

Yield: 4 dozen 3 1/2-inch cookies

  • 1 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup creamy or chunky Speculoos cookie butter (I used Trader Joe’s)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 T vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp coarse salt
  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 3/4 cup Heath toffee bits
  1. Cream together both sugars, the butter and the Speculoos cookie butter until light and fluffy.
  2. Add the eggs, vanilla extract, and salt and stir to combine.
  3. In separate bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, and corn starch together with whisk until well combined. Slowly add it to the wet mixture, mixing until well incorporated.
  4. Using the lowest speed of mixer, or by hand, stir in the Heath toffee bits.
  5. Refrigerate cookie dough at least one hour, preferably overnight.
  6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection. Line two rimmed baking sheet pans with parchment paper.
  7. Using a large cookie scoop, spoon out portions of dough. Place onto sheet pans about 2-inches apart.
  8. Bake cookies for 11 minutes, rotating the baking pans halfway through, or until the edges are lightly browned.
  9. Allow cookies to sit on the baking pans for about 3-5 minutes, before moving to cooling rack to cool completely.

One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Three Years Ago:

Speculaas: Dutch Spice Cookies

One of my all-time favorite cookies are Belgian Biscoff cookies. They are SO GOOD! When my husband picked up this holiday cookie cookbook at the library for me, this recipe immediately caught my eye. These Northern European spice cookies are called Speculaas in the Netherlands, Speculoos in Belgium, and Spekulatius in Germany.

This recipe for Dutch Spice Cookies was adapted from Christmas Cookies: 50 Recipes to Treasure for the Holiday Season by Lisa Zwirn. It was recommended to use a diamond-shaped cookie cutter with fluted edges, but I made Christmas trees for the occasion! (Any other shape would truly make them seasonless.) The dough had an ideal texture and rolled and cut like a dream. 🙂 I am going to make them again for sure- and will (at least) double the recipe next Christmas. I may also have to get the traditional cookie cutter.

Yield: Makes about 50 (2 1/2-inch diameter) cookies

For the Cookie Dough:

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp coarse salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground allspice (or cloves) (I used freshly ground allspice)
  • 8 T (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp grated lemon zest (I used the zest of 1 lemon)

For the Egg Wash & Topping:

  • 1 egg white whisked with 2 tsp water until frothy
  • sliced almonds, to taste

  1. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and allspice in a medium bowl.
  2. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and brown sugar in a large bowl until creamy.
  3. Beat in the egg, then the lemon zest.
  4. With the beaters on low-speed, mix in the flour mixture until throughly combined.
  5. Gather the dough in to a ball, then divide it in half.
  6. Shape each half into a disk and wrap separately in plastic. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. (I refrigerated the dough overnight.)
  7. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees on convection. Line 2 rimmed cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  8. Working with one disk at a time, roll out the dough  between two sheets of plastic wrap or on a lightly floured surface to a 1/4-inch thickness.
  9. Using a diamond, square, or round cookie cutter measuring about 2 1/2-inches in diameter, cut the dough and arrange on the prepared baking sheets about 1 1/2-inches apart. (I refrigerated the cut dough overnight prior to baking.)
  10. Reroll the scraps and repeat.
  11. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the egg wash over the tops of the cookies.
  12. Press a few almonds onto the center of each cookie.
  13. Bake for 10 to 14 minutes or until the cookies are slightly browned around the edges and the almonds are golden. (The cookies will crisp up as they cool.)
  14. Transfer the cookies to a rack to cool.

Note: The cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks or frozen for up to 3 months.

One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Three Years Ago:

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Apple Biscoff Crumble

We love love LOVE LOVE Biscoff cookies in our house. An absolute favorite. (You get the idea…) When I saw this recipe, it had to be made ASAP!! We ate it warm with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream. It transported us to a Parisian bistro with every bite. Easy and fabulous!!

This recipe was adapted from Baking Chez Moi: Recipes from My Paris Home to Your Home Anywhere by Dorie Greenspan. I used a combination of Gala, Fuji, Pink Lady, and Granny Smith apples. Greenspan suggests that any fruit can be substituted for the apples (making it a year-round dessert!!): peaches, nectarines, plums, berries, or cherries in the summer, pears, bananas, or pineapple in the winter, or a holiday mix of cranberries, apples, dried fruit and nuts. I’m pretty sure we’ll be eating it at least once a season! 🙂

  • 2 pounds (900 grams) apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 T granulated sugar
  • 3 T plump raisins
  • 1 package (about 8 oz) Biscoff or other speculoos cookies
  • 1 stick (8 T) unsalted butter, cut into small chunks, at room temperature
  • vanilla bean ice cream for serving
  1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (on convection).
  2. Butter an 8-inch round cake pan or a baking dish that holds 4 to 5 cups. Put the dish on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
  3. In a large bowl, toss the apples with the sugar and raisins. Set aside, but stir occasionally while assembling the topping.
  4. Using your hands, break the cookies into pieces in a large bowl. Add the butter and toss, turn and press the cookies and butter with your fingers, working them together until you have a fairly well-blended ball. (You want the cookies to stick together.)
  5. Stir the apple mixture and then pour it into the prepared baking dish. Spoon any accumulated juices over the mixture.
  6. Pull off bits of the crumble mixture and strew it over the apples- you should have enough to practically cover all of the fruit.
  7. Bake the crumble for 25 minutes and then tent it with foil to prevent over-browning. Continue to bake an additional 10 to 20 minutes, or until the topping is deeply brown and the fruit is bubbling.
  8. Transfer to a cooling rack and let it cool until it is just warm. (It can also be eaten at room temperature.) Serve with vanilla bean ice cream.

Two Years Ago:

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Biscoff Blondies

IMG_9680

So, my buddy said, “Who likes blondies? Why can’t you make brownies like a normal person?”  I have to put up with such comments in order to eat a delicious dinner at her house… 🙂 Dessert is not the focal point of a meal (in her world…), so I feel compelled to contribute a dessert to her dinner parties. I will have you know that she enjoyed these very much and kept the two leftover blondies to enjoy for breakfast the next morning. She may be a convert! 🙂

These blondies were moist, sweet, and tasty but not as “Biscoffy” as I had expected. We gobbled them up nonetheless!! This recipe was adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction, via Jhuls of thenotsocreativecook.wordpress.com.

Yield: Makes 16 Blondies

  • 1 cup (125g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 5 Tablespoons (1/3 cup or 75g) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup (200g) light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup Biscoff spread
  • 1 1/4 cups (225g) semi-sweet chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Line a 8×8 or 9×9 baking pan with parchment paper or spray with nonstick spray. Set aside.
  2. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, stir the melted butter and brown sugar together until combined.
  4. Whisk in the egg and egg yolk, then add the vanilla. Stir in the cookie spread.
  5. Gently fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Be careful not to overmix, which will result in crumbly, hard blondies. The batter will be very thick. Fold in the chocolate chips.
  6. Spoon the batter into the prepared baking dish. Bake for 20 minutes (on convection) to 25-26 minutes (standard oven). The blondies may appear very soft, but they will set up as they cool. Allow the blondies to cool completely- about 3 hours – before cutting into squares.

Note: Recipe may easily be doubled and baked in a 9×13 pan for approximately 35 minutes. Blondies stay fresh at room temperature for 1 week.

IMG_9655

One Year Ago:

Speculoos

IMG_7828

I am not a fan of packaged cookies- my one exception is Biscoff. I LOVE them! When I saw this bakery version of my favorite spiced shortbread cookie from Belgium, I could barely wait to make them. This recipe is from Bouchon Bakery by Thomas Keller and Sebastien Rouxel. To be just like Thomas Keller, I followed all of the instructions precisely including his method to roll out the dough. The dough is pounded with a rolling-pin to flatten it during the rolling process in order to prevent cracking- it worked quite well! Because I also wanted to present mine just like Thomas Keller, I sprinkled the cookies with powdered sugar just before serving. 🙂 The dough could also be topped with turbinado sugar prior to baking. (next time!) I cooked some of the cookies until the edges were lightly brown and others a little bit longer. All were delicious, but I preferred the cookies that cooked slightly longer as they were more reminiscent of crispy Biscoff. GREAT!

I am bringing this dessert to Fiesta Friday (#6) over at The Novice Gardener this week- visit to check out the party! A FEAST 🙂

  • 3/4 cup (104 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 1/2 T (74 g) cake flour
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 T (74 g) whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 tsp (1.3 g) baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp (1.3 g) ground cinnamon
  • 3/8 tsp (1.3 g) Kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup (74 g) dark brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 1/4 tsp (59 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 1/8 tsp (8 g) Clover honey
  • 6.2 oz (177 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • powdered sugar for dusting or turbinado sugar for sprinkling
  1. Place the all-purpose flour in a medium bowl and sift in the cake and whole wheat flours. Break up any lumps of flour remaining in the sieve and add them to the bowl. Sift in the baking soda and cinnamon. Add the salt and whisk together.
  2. Combine both sugars in a bowl and whisk to break up any lumps. Using a fork, stir in the honey.
  3. Place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Turn to medium-low speed and cream the butter until smooth.
  4. Add the sugar mixture and mix for about 2 minutes, until fluffy. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.
  5. Add the dry ingredients in 2 additions, mixing on low-speed for 15 to 30 seconds after each, or until just combined. Scrape the bottom of the bowl to incorporate any dry ingredients that have settled there.
  6. Mound the dough on the work surface and, using the heel of your hand or a pastry scraper, push it together into a 4- by 6-inch block. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or, preferably, overnight.
  7. Position the racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees. (I used convection.) Line two sheet pans with Silpats or parchment paper.
  8. Unwrap the dough and place it between two pieces of parchment paper or plastic wrap. With a rolling-pin, pound the top of the dough, working from left to right, to begin to flatten it, then turn the dough 90 degrees and repeat. (This will prevent the dough from cracking as it is rolled.) Roll out to just under 1/8 inch thick. If the dough has softened, slide it (in the parchment) onto the back of a sheet pan and refrigerate until firm enough to cut into cookies.
  9. Using a decorative cutter (they would be pretty as snowflakes), cut out the cookies and arrange them on the prepared sheet pans, leaving about 3/4 inch between them. If necessary, push the trimmings together, refrigerate until firm, and reroll. If the dough softens, return it to the refrigerator until the cookies are firm enough to transfer to the sheet pans. (I cut the shapes, stack them with plastic wrap between each layer, and refrigerate for 1-2 hours (or overnight) prior to baking.)
  10. Bake the cookies until golden brown, 13 to 15 minutes, reversing the positions of the pans halfway through baking. Set the pans on a cooling rack and cool for 5 to 10 minutes, then transfer the cookies to the rack to cool completely.
  11. The cookies can be stored in a covered container for up to 3 days. Just before serving, sift powdered sugar over the cookies.

One Year Ago:

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