There are two things I am quite obsessed with: Spekulatius (spice cookies similar to speculoos) and nougat. For everyone who reads this blog it must feel like Groundhog Day: Every single year I proclaim that I have just come out with the perfect Spekulatius recipe. But this cookie is very special to me and believe me, it deserves all this attention. Especially since there’s a lot to experiment with: different spices, sugars and even different fats always give this cookie a new dimension and no recipe is the same. While last year it took me some time to figure out how to make Spekulatius cookies with oil instead of margarine, this year’s recipe came together pretty quickly with the help of refined coconut oil. (For a version made with margarine see notes on the bottom.)
To give the Spekulatius a special twist, I filled and decorated them with hazelnut nougat (gianduia). The combination of the crunchy spiced cookies and the mild and rich nougat made these just disappear in seconds. (Don’t worry, I didn’t eat them alone. I had about 10 taste testers.) When I baked these I used a big cookie cutter, so I got 28 cookies, which I then turned into 14 sandwiches. If you use a smaller cutter, you might get up to 50 cookies.
Speculoos mit Nougat
For the spice mix:
1 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground mace
Combine all spices in a jar, close the jar and shake well.
For the cookies:
110 g (1/2 cup) soft refined coconut oil
50 g (1/4 cup) dark brown sugar
30 g (2 tablespoons plus one teaspoon) refined white sugar
180 g (1 1/2 cups) flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons spekulatius spice mix (see above)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon soy milk
150 g (5.3 oz) gianduia, storebought or home-made
To make the cookies:
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Combine coconut oil and sugars in a bowl and beat until light and fluffy. Add remaining ingredients except for soy milk. Beat until crumbs form, then add soymilk. Use your hands to knead into a smooth and firm dough. Divide into two balls. Place one between two sheets of plastic wrap. Roll the dough out 1/2 cm (1/4 inch) thick. Cut out cookies. Place on baking sheet and bake for 8 minutes. If you use small cutters, reduce the baking time to 6-7 minutes.) Repeat with the remaining dough. Place on a baking rack to cool.
Chop the gianduia and carefully melt it over low heat. Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes to thicken slightly. Spread some gianduia on the bottom of a cookie and place a second cookie on top. Repeat with the remaining cookies. Drizzle the remaining gianduia over the sandwich cookies. Store in the fridge until completely cooled.
Update 12/16/14: Several readers asked me if they could use margarine instead of coconut oil in this recipe. I finally tried this and yes, you can. Use the same amount of margarine and swap out the sugars for granulated brown sugar (turbinado, sucanat or evaporated cane juice). Also, leave out the soy milk! Bake for 8-10 minutes.