seitan is my motor



December 2012



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.



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