Sunday, December 22, 2013

speculoos cookies - a tradition

Last Christmas was Michael's and my first married Christmas. It was such a special time for us as a couple, as we had not yet been together on Christmas (we had always been with our respective families). We wanted to start a tradition or two together, and decided that making Belgian speculoos cookies could be a fun one(as I mentioned here). Neither of us are Belgian, but we did honeymoon in Belgium - visiting Bruges, Brussels & Bouillon. At our bed & breakfast in Brussels, our hosts introduced us to Biscoff cookie spread. Have you tried it? Oh my yum. It is soooo delicious. I prefer to eat it on a delicious bread or on apples...or occasionally, I confess, by the spoonful. :) (Trader Joe's sells this, which I hear is similar, though I haven't tasted it.) The cookie spread is made from the Belgian speculoos cookies. Here is a recipe for the ones we make:

Speculoos Cookies
{The recipe we use is a slight variation on this one.}

We purchased our cookie molds at a local specialty cooking shop, but you can also purchase them online. Ours are made by House on the Hill. They are very well made.

3 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground mace
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 cup light brown sugar
1/3 cup water
confectioner's sugar

{how to}
[Note: Make sure you set aside a good amount of time for this recipe - there are two periods of refrigeration needed and the cookies take a while to bake as well!]

Combine flour, baking soda, salt and spices in a large bowl.

Cream together the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes). Beat in half the flour/spice mixture. Beat in water, then beat in the remaining flour/spice mixture. Shape the dough into three discs, around one inch thick. Wrap each disc in plastic and refrigerate for one hour.
Lightly dust your work surface and your cookie molds with confectioner's sugar. {And don't forget to re-dust your cookie molds each time you go to press a cookie!}
Roll out the dough to about 1/4" thickness. If you have deep molds, your dough may need to be a little thicker, as ours did. Press the cookie mold into the dough - and be sure to press it firmly!
Using a knife or spatula, cut around the mold. At this point we carefully and gently lifted the mold off the dough to reveal the design. Another option is to flip the mold over, and roll over the dough with a rolling pin before removing the cookie mold to make sure the pattern is well set.
Carefully move the cookie onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, spacing about one inch apart.
Place the baking sheets in the refrigerator for one hour.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Place cookie sheet(s) in oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 250 degrees. Bake until cookies are set and beginning to turn golden brown around the edges, about 50-60 minutes, rotating the baking sheets 180 degrees halfway through the baking time. Let the cookies cool on wire racks.
Enjoy these cookies alone, or with a warm cup of coffee or tea. They really do come out beautifully, and they make great gifts, too.

Hope you have a blessed fourth Sunday of Advent!

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