Spekulatius Cookies, The Final Take

It’s December! We have had the first snow! It is officially Christmas season! That means like every year I am going to pester you with stories about my favourite winter/Christmas cookie, the spekulatius. Spekulatius is a German shortbread cookie, usually available during Christmas season. There are different kinds, some are just butter cookies, some are decorated with almonds and others, my favourite kind, are spiced. The gewürzspekulatius (spiced spekulatius) is made with a special spice blend which is different from that used for its Dutch and Belgian relatives speculaas and speculoos. (In fact speculoos seem to be the mildest of those cookies, relying mostly on cinnamon and brown sugar for flavour.)

Ever since I started this blog I tried to come up with the perfect spekulatius recipe. Every year I failed. There are many great spekulatius recipes online and I also can buy a prepared spekulatius spice mix at most grocery stores. But so far none of the tried recipes or non of my own versions tasted like I want this cookie to taste like.

It’s all my mom’s fault. (I know, mom. Sorry!) She doesn’t bake and we only have store bought cookies at home. But she is very particular about those cookies, especially spekulatius. She will only allow a certain brand of spekulatius cookies into our house, because she thinks those taste best.

I kind of inherited that pickyness. I never really liked any other brand of spekulatius cookies, especially since the ones we have at home are accidentaly vegan. I always wanted to recreate this recipe and after a couple of Christmas seasons filled with spekulatius experiments, I finally got my cookies right.

I made two versions of this cookie, one with oil and a second one with margarine. The one with margarine technically is the better version. The dough holds its shape well and it is great for cut out cookies. But it doesn’t taste quite right. It’s more a lebkuchen cookie (similar to gingerbread) than a spekulatius cookie. The dough of the version made with oil is not so perfect. In fact it crumbles easily and shaping is a bit difficult. I used a fork to flatten them but I had to be careful so they wouldn’t fall apart. They hold their shape perfectly once they are baked. Even though these are a bit harder to handle, I prefer them because they taste exactly like I want a spekulatius cookie to taste.

12/16/14: Find an updated version of this recipe here. It can be made both with margarine or coconut oil. No problems with shaping or rolling!

I used muscovado sugar, which is a bit drier than regular brown sugar and also is grainy and comes with larger sugar lumps. That means that it won’t dissolve completely during baking and the cookies with have brown sugar spots. I didn’t mind that. But if you don’t like it you can use a different kind of brown sugar (rapadura, for example). Or you can grind the sugar in a food processor to get rid of the lumps. I also noticed that the cookies made with oil and refridgerated for two hours didn’t have the specks. I assume that the lumps dissolved during resting.

Spekulatius Cookies Made with Oil (makes 17)
90 ml (6 tablespoons) vegetable oil
80 g (1/2 cup) muscovado sugar*
1 1/2 teaspoons spekulatius spice mix (see below)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 small pinch freshly ground black pepper
150 g (1 1/4 cups) all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons soy milk
* If you have a kitchen scale, I recommend weighing the sugar instead of using a cup measurement.

In a bowl combine oil, sugar, and spices. Add flour, cornstarch, baking powder and salt. Use your hands to form into a crumbly dough. Add soy milk as needed until the dough holds together. Wrap in foil and refridgerate for 2 hours. Preheat oven to 180°C. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Roll the dough into walnut sized balls and place on the baking sheet (the cookies won’t spread). Use a fork to flatten the cookies carefully. Bake for 10-12 minutes.

Spekulatius Cookies made with Margarine

(makes 30-40, depending on the cookie cutter)

55 g (1/4 cup) cold margarine
80 g (1/2 cup) muscovado sugar*
150 g all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons spekulatius spice mix (see below)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 small pinch freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons soy yoghurt
* If you have a kitchen scale, I recommend weighing the sugar instead of using a cup measurement.

Preheat oven to 180°C. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Beat together margarine and sugar (I did this in my mini food processor). Add flour, baking powder, salt, spices and soy yoghurt. Use your hands to mix all ingredients well and form a dough. Place on a lightly floured working surface. Roll the dough out (1/2 cm or 1/4 inch thick) and use your favourite cookie cutter to cut out cookies. Place the cookies on the baking sheet and bake for 7-9 minutes.

Spekulatius Spice Mix

2 tablespoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground anise seeds
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground cardamom
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground mace

Combine all ingredients and store in an airtight container.

24 thoughts on “Spekulatius Cookies, The Final Take

  1. oh, and I’d strongly recommend putting the dough in the fridge for an hour before rolling it out, mine was definitely too warm and sticky.

  2. oh, and I’d strongly recommend putting the dough in the fridge for an hour before rolling it out, mine was definitely too warm and sticky.

  3. We just made those (note to self: baking with 2 5-year-olds and 1 2-year-old is simply crazy. Do not try again.). I have no idea where I could find the sugar so we used brown sugar and it worked as well. I have no idea though how you come up with 30-40 cookies, we doubled the recipe and have about 30 – do you roll them out with a pasta-machine? :-)

    They taste great, I’ll definitely bake them again soon. Without the kids.

    1. Ha, ha, I think baking with one kid is already crazy, so good job!
      I don’t know, maybe I am a pasta machine? Just kidding, I think my cutters were very small. I sometimes think I shouldn’t post a yield number at all because people’s cutters are so different. Thank you so much for trying these, I am glad you liked them.

  4. Haha, it is great reading about your quest for the perfect spekulatius recipe!

    When I travel, I fly on Delta, and for their snacks they usually have Spekuloos cookies (the company that originally made them got bought by another cookie brand Lotus, but otherwise they seem to be just like what you get in Belgium). I love those cookies! I have also had Spekuloos butter from Trader Joe’s, one of our supermarket chains (since you give your amounts in grams, I assume you are not here in the U.S., so not sure if you know what Trader Joe’s is…).

    I will definitely try at least one of these recipes – probably the one with margarine since I often bake cookies with Earth Balance vegan buttery sticks, and I love the way they come out.

    Thanks again for your tenacity, passion and sense of fun!

    1. Oh, I didn’t know Lotus bought the cookies. That is interesting. Yeah, you are right. I am in Germany, but I know Trader Joe’s. Not that I’ve been to one. I hope you like these cookies. They are very different from speculoos, though. Speculoos have way less spices and a strong hint of caramel. These have no caramel flavour and way more spice, similar to gingerbread.

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  6. I am very familiar with Lebkuchen, but not these particular cookies. Theses were not in my mom’s recipes. They do sound good also, if I get ambitious, I may try this particular cookie. Have not done a lot of cookies the last couple years.
    As always, thank you for your efforts. We do appreciate it.
    May every one have a blessed Christmas season and a Happy New Year. I look forward when Jesus will return the second time, and we will have a new earth to fellowship with HIM. Our recipes will be perfect there!

  7. You lucky snow-woman! I wish we had some snow here, but instead we have unusual warmth. It’s December, I want cold weather and snow!

    The cookies look so tasty! I love a good spice cookie. I’ve never had spekulatius, so I’m sure either version would be perfect for me!

  8. I really love shortbread cookies, and these look amazing! These would be perfect to bring to a holiday party, I can almost smell all of the spices and flavors here by looking at your stunning and gorgeous photos. Really lovely Mihl!

  9. Jetzt bin ich hin und hergerissen ob ich das Rezept nehme oder mein holländisches Rezept für spekulatius. Ich denke deins muss mal probiert werden!

  10. First, I’d just like to say that I love the photos — the rich, warm colors are perfect. I’m so glad you finally got the cookie you wanted after all that testing and tweaking. The rolled ones have a lot of charm, but in the end it’s the taste that counts. I would consider making the spice mix but I’d have to leave out the anise or substitute for it. I’ve done that in the past and to my tongue, it still tasted great.

  11. I will DEFINITELY give these a try! Thanks for sharing your recipes!! I’m gonna go with the oil version… I’ll let you know how they turn out. :)

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