South Africa: Soetkoekies (Spicy Wine Cookies)
Soetkoekies are of Dutch origin and have been a favorite South African treat for many years, together with other traditional cookies such as crunchies and rusks. The Dutch colonised Cape Town in 1652 and rapidly established their cooking traditions at the Cape, so this is probably one of the older recipes still in use in South Africa.
Unsurprisingly, given their Dutch roots, there is a definite correlation between the ingredients and flavors of these cookies and Dutch Speculaas. The main differences between the two are the omission of the white pepper and cardamom from the Soetkoekies and the addition of the red wine. However, in appearance and texture they are quite different. While speculaas is made in shaped molds, soetkoekies are drop cookies. And whereas speculaas is quite crisp and crumbly, soetkoekies are deliciously chewy.
Traditionally, these cookies used to be decorated with red stripes using "rooi bolus" (a ferris-oxide mixture used as food colouring) as a coloring.
Soetkoekies (Spicy Wine Cookies)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup chopped almonds
1/2 cup cold butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup red wine
1 egg white, beaten
Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.
Combine flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, ground cloves, brown sugar, and almonds and whisk together. Cut in the butter. Stir in the eggs and red wine.
Roll dough into walnut-sized balls and place on cookie sheets about 2" apart. Dab tops with beaten egg white.
Bake 12-15 minutes or until brown around the edges.Transfer to wire racks to cool.
Yield: 3 dozen cookies