Belgium: Speculaas

Speculaas, cookies native to the Netherlands and Belgium, are traditionally baked for consumption on December 5th, St. Nicholas' Eve. The Belgian town of Hasselt is best known for its Speculaas. These cookies are thin, very crunchy, slightly browned, and, most significantly, have some image or figure (often from circle of traditional stories about St. Nicholas) stamped on the front side before baking; the back side is flat.

It is believed that the name Speculaas derives from the latin word, speculum, which means mirror, and refers to the fact that the images are cut as a mirrored bas-relief into a wooden stamp which is then used to decorate the Speculaas.


1 cup softened unsalted butter
1 1/3 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
3 3/4 cups flour
1 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
2/3 cup finely ground blanched almonds
vegetable oil for oiling molds
flour for dusting molds

Cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs and lemon zest. In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, nutmeg, and baking soda. Slowly beat in the dry ingredients and almonds until just blended. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill for 24 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease several baking sheets. Prepare molds by lightly brushing vegetable oil over the surface and lightly dusting with flour. Shake out the excess flour.

Using only enough dough to to fit each mold, and keeping the rest refrigerated press the dough into the mold. Firmly press the dough once you have filled the mold to eliminate any air bubbles and cut away any excess dough. Flip the mold over and gently tap to remove the cookie. Place on the prepared cookie sheet. Before filling the mold again, dust with additional flour.

Bake the cookies for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the cookies are just starting to turn golden brown on the edges. Remove from the oven and let the cookies sit on the sheets for 3 minutes. Transfer to wire racks and coole completely. Decorate if desired or place in an airtight container.

Recipe courtesty of Cookie Recipes Online.

1 comment:

Lady Lilacs said...

This is a great blog. I found the link to it on Hubpages. I pressed on Belgium and found Speculaas -- which my mom has made every Christmas since ever and ever. She is Flemish way, way back but neither of us knew (until now) that Speculaas originated in Belgium (for the Flemish).

Great site.