Whenever I am in Amsterdam in the Netherlands – as I was last week, I have to eat one of my favourite biscuits. The Dutch Spiced Biscuits are similar to gingerbread, but superior in flavour if you ask me! Traditionally they are shaped like windmills, but you can also shape them into little gingerbread men and women if you like. I, being on the time pressed side, usually decide to go for simple shapes, like circles, which I also find easier when storing, but pretty much any shape goes.
These biscuits are flavoured using an array of spices, which are also pretty reminiscent of Christmas, although these biscuits can be and are eaten all year round. I prefer them to have one side sprinkled with almond flakes, however some people prefer them without. You could split the batch and make half with and half without to decide how you prefer to eat yours!
The Dutch spiced biscuits make a particularly nice gift at Christmas and can be given in an old (or new) biscuit tin or simply in a cellophane bag and tied with some ribbon. I often prepare hampers filled with lots of edible gifts to give to friends and family at Christmas as I find a handmade gift far more personal.
I can’t believe that I am already writing and thinking about Christmas. But it is around 2 months away now and so as much as I would like to hide my head in the sand and forget about the fact that we are nearly reaching the end of the year already, I had better face facts and start planning. Even if the only planning I am doing at the moment is biscuit baking!
These are really easy to make – you can get together with some kids as a way to get them involved in the kitchen, or you could quickly whip up a batch yourself. The Dutch spiced biscuits make great gifts and taste delicious. So give them a try, and you can indulge in my favourite Dutch treat too!
Dutch Spiced Biscuits (Speculaas)
Makes about 60 cookies, depending on the size you cut them.
- 113g cold unsalted butter
- 75g white granulated or caster sugar
- 165g packed soft dark brown or muscavado sugar
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
- ¾ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ¾ teaspoon ground cloves
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon ground white pepper
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 large egg
- 235g plain flour
- flaked almonds, to garnish (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 180°C and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.
- Cut the butter into ½ inch cubes and place in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.
- Add the sugars, baking soda, salt, and spices.
- Cream the butter and dry ingredients together on medium speed for 30 seconds or until the batter is uniform in color.
- Scrape down the sides with a large spatula and add the vanilla extract and egg and beat on medium speed until incorporated (about 30 more seconds).
- Scrape down the sides again and add the flour.
- Beat on medium speed until incorporated (about 30 more seconds)
- You could also make this recipe without using a mixer and simply mix all the ingredients together in a bowl and then bring together using your hands.
- Using a cookie cutter, roll the dough out until ¼ inch/0.5cm thick with a plain rolling pin and cut out cookies and place on the baking sheet.
- Decorate the tops of the biscuits with the flaked almonds, if using.
- Place the baking sheet in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
- Bake the biscuits in the oven for 9-11 minutes or until the cookies look golden brown on the edges.
- Let cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes before moving the cookies to a wire rack to cool to room temperature.
- The cookies will harden as they cool.
- Once cooled, serve. Nice on their own or with a cup of tea or coffee.
Images: see captions