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Gluten-Free Speculaas Cookies – the ultimate cinnamon-spiced butter cookie!
Speculaas are an especially buttery and crisp, spiced cookie from the Netherlands. It is by far my favourite Dutch cookie noted for its crunchy texture and spicy festive flavour – I could eat them all year round, but traditionally they are made and gifted for the feast on the eve of Saint Nicholas Day which falls annually on the 5th December.
Some history about this cookie
Formerly, the Speculaas dough would have been shaped by artfully carved wooden moulds, representing daily life themes in Holland, which is why the Latin meaning of Speculaas means mirror. Nowadays, the most common design is the windmill, but from the eve of Saint Nicholas Day right up to Christmas, any nativity shape is used during this festive season. The cookie moulds can be purchased in the Netherlands at most kitchen specialist shops or online. They add a nice authentic touch, but using regular festive cookie cutters will do the trick just as well to enjoy these cookies.
- For an extra crunch and flavour, almonds are either added to the dough or sprinkled on top before baking.
- Coat half of the baked Speculaas with some melted chocolate and allow it to set. This is close enough to a 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.
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