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Indulge in the Delight of Gluten-Free Speculaas Cookies – the Perfect Spiced Butter Treat!
Discover the heavenly delight of Speculaas, a buttery and crispy spiced cookie hailing all the way from the Netherlands. With its irresistible crunch and festive cinnamon flavour, it has quickly become my absolute favourite Dutch delight. While I personally can’t resist enjoying them year-round, these delectable cookies are traditionally made and exchanged on the eve of Saint Nicholas Day, celebrated annually on the 5th of December.
A Rich History Behind this Delightful Cookie
Originally, Speculaas dough was meticulously shaped using beautifully carved wooden moulds, each depicting daily life scenes in the Netherlands. This is why Speculaas, derived from the Latin word ‘speculum’ meaning mirror, carries such a significant symbolic meaning. Although the windmill design has become the most popular, during this festive season from Saint Nicholas Day to Christmas, nativity shapes take the spotlight. These cookie moulds can be found readily in specialist kitchen stores or online in the Netherlands. However, don’t worry if you can’t get your hands on one, as regular festive cookie cutters work just as well in capturing the essence of these delightful treats.
Explore Delicious Alternatives
For an extra burst of texture and flavour, consider adding a handful of crunchy almonds to the dough or sprinkle them on top before baking. Another mouthwatering option is to coat half of your baked Speculaas cookies with a luscious layer of melted chocolate, allowing it to set and creating a delectable combination similar to a beloved chocolate digestive biscuit.
Using Speculaas Cookies in Baking
The Speculaas cookie can be used as a biscuit base for chilled desserts, baked or unbaked cheesecakes and energy balls. The crumbs store well frozen in zip-lock bags for future baking.
- 350 g store-bought or homemade gluten-free plain flour
- 110 g brown sugar
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp xanthan gum
- ¼ tsp salt
- 2 tsp cinnamon powder
- ½ tsp nutmeg powder
- ½ tsp cloves
- 220 g butter, cut into small pieces and softened at room temperature
- 4 tbsp milk
- 4 tbsp slivered almonds, to decorate
- Tapioca flour, for rolling out the dough
Making the Speculaas Dough
- In a medium bowl, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, xanthan gum, salt and spices together.
- Add the butter and mix well with a wooden spoon, pressing the butter into the dry ingredients thoroughly.
- Add one tablespoon of milk at a time to the mixture, mixing well until the dough takes shape and comes together. The dough should feel soft but not sticky.
- Ideally, the dough should be left for several hours in the fridge to develop flavour, but if you are eager to get baking, then allow a minimum of 30 minutes rest before rolling out the dough.
Baking the Speculaas
- Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F.
- Roll the dough out to 3mm thick and cut out each shape using your selected medium-size cookie cutter. You may find it easier to roll out several smaller portions of dough rather than the entire dough. Sprinkle some tapioca flour on your rolling pin and counter while rolling out the dough.
- Lay the Speculaas cookies on a lined baking tray, 2cm apart from each other and add some almond pieces on top. The Speculaas cookies do not spread while baking.
- Bake for 20 minutes on the middle rack one tray at a time for even cooking.
- Cool them on the tray for 10 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool down completely.
- Store them in an airtight tin or glass jar. Avoid plastic containers as these make them soft.
- Keeps for 2 weeks at room temperature in a sealed glass or ceramic jar
- The Speculaas dough is suitable to freeze. Roll the dough into a log and cover in baking paper followed by foil before freezing.