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Speculoos truffles and gluten-free cinnamon stars {Zimtsterne}

Recently I have been getting a lot of traffic for an old post. An really old post. With terrible pictures and links that don’t work anymore. And while the pictures may be awful, the recipes are great and still two of my favourites. That is why I want to update them today. They are Christmas recipes and I am aware that I am pushing the season very early this year. But you never know what will happen in December. I know me and I’ll probably post the next cookie recipes two days after Christmas. Plus, we already went to see a Christmas movie at the cinema yesterday and my kid is singing “Oh Tannenbaum” 24/7.

The old post I want to brush up here had a recipe for cinnamon stars (cookies) and speculoos truffles based on my recipe for speculoos spread (cookie butter). For this entry, I updated both the recipes and the pictures. There are corners of this blog which are such a building site and a few items definitely need a bit of remodeling.

Speculoos truffles and gluten-free cinnamon stars {Zimtsterne}

These gluten-free cinnamon stars are a very traditional and well-known German Christmas season cookie. They are in a way the elegant version of macaroons, because recipes always call for lots of meringue. The first time I posted this to the blog I winged it somehow. I made flax eggs and added rice syrup. At that time I thought I had ended up with a decent enough result.

That was way before we all discovered the magic baking properties of canned chickpea water aka aquafaba. And of course, if you make these cookies with aquafaba, they turn out absolutely perfect! They aren’t too crispy and even will soften after a day. Which is how I remember the original version. The only trick here is to whip up the aquafaba really thick. It should have almost the same texture as marshmallow fluff. To do this, I always use a pinch of guar gum. In Germany, guar gum is often available at health food stores whereas xanthan gum is much harder to find. If you can only find xanthan, you can use that instead. If you cannot find both of these or don’t want to use them, use half a teaspoon of lemon juice or white vinegar instead. That should do the trick.

You have to whip up the aquafaba in two steps: First you mix the liquid with guar gum (xanthan etc.) and beat it for 5 minutes until it has stiff peaks. I always use a handheld mixer for this. Then you add about 25 g (1/4 cup) of powdered sugar and whip until the mass is very thick and looks similar to the marshmallow fluff on of the pictures here. It needs a solid texture, so it will hold all the ground nuts you have to mix in later.

The second recipe I am updating today is a chocolate candy made from speculoos spread (biscoff spread or cookie butter). Back in 2009 I was one of the first who made a homemade version for the at that time trending spread. It is easily made at home from the popular Lotus (Biscoff) caramel cookies (speculoos) but I often use traditional German spekulatius cookies.

Speculoos truffles and gluten-free cinnamon stars {Zimtsterne}

When I made this the first time I used traditional ingredients that were quite similar to those found on the package of a jar of speculoos spread. One of the ingredients was refined coconut oil. I still use this fat a lot but I know that some people cannot tolerate it very well. So I do now have an updated version made with nut butter. You should probably try both of today’s recipes, but the speculoos truffles are very addictive. I love to give them as a present, too. Also, if you’re going to watch the US election tomorrow, you might want some food helping you deal with all the stress.

Spekulatiuspralinen | Speculoos Truffles


Cinnamon Stars // Speculoos Truffles

46 cookies and 15 truffles


Cinnamon Stars
60 ml (1/4 cup) aquafaba
1/4 teaspoon guar gum (or xanthan)
225 g (3 cups) ground nuts (almonds or hazelnuts)
25 g (1/4 cup) plus 50 g (1/2 cup) powdered sugar
1 teaspoon ground clementine peel or lemon zest
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
For the frosting:
100 g (1 cup) powdered sugar
5-6 teaspoons lemon juice
Speculoos Truffles
150 g spekulatius cookies (or similar)
1 tablespoon agave nectar
100 g (1/4 cup plus 1/8 cup) cashew or almond butter
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
150 g melted chocolate for dipping


To make the cinnamon stars

Place aquafaba (liquid from a can of chickpeas) and guar gum in a narrow bowl.

With a handheld mixer whip for 5 minutes, or until stiff peaks form.

Add 25 g powdered sugar and whip for another 2 to 5 minutes, or until the mixture resembles thick marshmallow fluff or very stiff whipped cream.

Place remaining ingredients in a large bowl and mix well.

Add whipped aquafaba and use a spatula to fold it into the nut mixture. This will take one or two minutes. Your dough will be stiff and sticky.

Preheat the oven to 150°C and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Roll the cinnamon star dough out 1/2 cm thick) between two sheets of plastic wrap.

Cut out as many cookies as possible.

Form the dough scraps into a ball, roll out again and cut out more cookies until no dough is left.

Place on a baking sheet. Bake one sheet at a time for 11 minutes or until the bottoms are only slightly browned.

Let cool on a cookie rack.

To make the frosting, place powdered sugar in a small bowl and add lemon juice by the teaspoon. You'll want a stiff frosting that can be spread but will not drip off your cookies.

Dip the cookies upside down into the frosting and let dry on a cookie sheet.

Store in an airtight container. The cookies will soften after a day.

To make the speculoos truffles

Use a food processor to grind your cookies into a very fine meal.

Place in a bowl and add remaining ingredients.

Stir until everything is combined well.

Place in the fridge for about an hour.

Melt your dipping chocolate and have a piece of parchment ready.

Remove your spread from the fridge and use a teaspoon to scoop out a portion of the spread.

You can form it into balls or shape it only roughly.

Dip into the melted chocolate and let dry on a piece of parchment paper.

Store in the fridge.





Spekulatius mit Nougat {Speculoos with Gianduia}

spekulatius mit nougat

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.



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