In recent years it has become available all year round. Speculaas are thin, very crunchy, slightly browned and, most definitely, have some image or figure (often from the traditional stories about St. Nicholas) stamped on the front side before baking, the back is flat.
Speculaas dough does not rise much.
Normally, Sinterklaas comes in Belgium, in the night of 5th december to 6th december. On the evening of the 5th of December, the children put their shoes next to the chimney. They lay sugar beets or carrots for the Saints horse. They also present food or drinks for Sinterklaas near the chimney because he must have been hungry during the night because he works a lot & he rides his horse & goes along with the dark men on the top of the roofs on everybody’s houses. He gives mandarins, sweets & speculoos. Normally, he also gives presents to the children.
Dutch and Belgian versions are baked with light brown (beet) sugar ( cassonade sugar ) and baking powder. You can also use dark cannonade sugar so that the speculaas is darker in colour. Normally, we use speculaas spices, a blend of spices because it is more easier to use. We can buy that in 20 gr sachet in Dille & Kamille. That is a cook shop , their shops are located in many cities in The Netherlands & in Belgium. Their website is www.dille – kamille.be
You can read it in French & in Dutch.
Most Speculaas versions are made from white flour, brown sugar, butter and spices. Some varieties use some almond flour and have slivered almonds embedded in the bottom.
Spices used in speculaas spices are cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, piment, ginger, cardamom, mace & coriander. We buy them in 20 gr sachets, ready to use.
I have 1 recipe with not every spice in it, but you can make your own speculaas mix with:
4 tablespoons ground cinnamon,
1 tablespoon ground cloves,
1 tablespoon ground ginger,
1 tablespoon ground nutmeg &
1 tablespoon ground cardamom.
Mix all the spices well together & place in a fitting bowl & screw the lid well on. Shake well until all joined. Use 2 teaspoons.
Enjoy!! It works really well!!!
There are several interpretations for the origins of the name Speculaas. It may derive from Latinspeculum, which means mirror, and refer to the images are cut as a mirrored bas-relief into a wooden stamp which is then used to decorate the Speculaas. Another explanation of the name refers to the Latin word speculator which, among other meanings, could also refer to a bishop or St Nicholas’ epithet “he who sees everything”. Specerij the Dutch word for spice is another possible origin.
I love this yummy recipe for home-made speculaas. These are crunchy speculaas & a bit soft in the middle.
Recipe: for about 65 speculaas, small to medium-sized inclusive 2 larger Moose
500 gr organic white flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
250 gr lighter brown cannonade sugar ( kinnekes suiker )
200 gr light salted butter, softened
2 organic eggs, beaten
2 teaspoons of speculaas spices / bought or home-made ( see note: above )
1. Take your Kenwood or Kitchen aide & put the K-paddle in.
2. In a large bowl, sieve the flour & sieve the baking powder. Set aside.
3. Put the softened butter in the fitting bowl together with the sugar. Mix it until it all is well combined.
4. Add the beaten eggs & mix well.
5. Add the speculaas spices & the sifted flour and baking powder. Mix until it all is well combined.
It is now brown in colour. Place the mix onto a floured silpat with floured hands & mix well until you have a thick dough, for about 1 to 2 minutes. The dough will be very sticky. Place cling film all over & place into the fridge, on a plate, for at least 1 to 2 hours to stiffen up. You can also leave it overnight in the fridge. I never do. I can’t wait that long!
6. Preheat your oven to 175°C, ( 347 F ) if you are using a normal oven. 150°C ( 302 F ) fan oven, for 15 minutes. Take 2 oven racks out of the oven & lay silpats on them. I use a fan oven.
7. Take your dough out of the fridge, open the cling film & slice 1 big piece, 1/3 th of the dough. Place the other dough back into the cling film & place into the fridge until you want another piece to work with. So, that the dough will stay firm. Now, lay your silpat in front of you on the table. Flour well. Flour the rolling-pin & roll the dough out to 0,5 cm thick. With your favourite cookie cutters, cut out cookies & reuse the dough again & again until it is all used up. Do flour your Silpat from time to time, because you don’t want the dough to stick. Place onto a silpat on an oven rack, well spaced apart, about 1 inch ( 2,5 cm ) apart & bake for about 13 to 15 minutes until browned & cooked through. In my case, it took every time 15 minutes. Take out of the oven & place onto wiring racks to cool down completely. Do the same to the rest of the dough.
8. When the cookies are completely cold, place into cookie boxes to store or give them as presents.
These are crunchy cookies & a bit soft in the middle.
Enjoy with a good cup of coffee or an excellent cup of tea!