Speculaas cookies (or, gingerbread and graham crackers had a lovechild)

speculaas

 Oh, these cookies. You might know them better as Dutch windmill cookies, or, more likely, the Biscoff cookies that have become oh-so-popular lately. Delta Airlines doles them out on flights (or at least they used to…I haven’t flown Delta in years).  There is no better cookie to have with your coffee or tea.

The best way to describe them is this: a gingerbread cookie and a graham cracker had a lovechild. And that lovechild is crispy, caramel-y, and perfectly spiced. You can thank the dark brown sugar and mishmash of spices for that.

And those white specks? Not salt. Swedish pearl sugar (regular old pearl sugar will do, too). I found a bag at my favorite culinary supply store when we were in LA for Christmas, and couldn’t resist. It totally brought me back to studying abroad in Sweden, circa 2007. We used to get kanelbulle, cinnamon roll-esque (much better than their sickeningly-sweet American counterparts) pastries topped with a sprinkle of pearl sugar, every day during fika (coffee/tea break) between classes.

These are great cold weather cookies. And by that, I mean…these are particularly delicious on those “it’s so cold outside that all I want to do is sit on the sofa, drink copious amounts of coffee or tea, and read a good book/watch TV” kind of days.  They’re just light enough so you don’t feel gross after having eaten a few…or 10…in one sitting. We’ve had a streak of those days here in the Midwest lately and needless to say, I’ve eaten a lot of these cookies. Thankfully, I also have hungry coworkers who took some of them off my hands.

A note about this recipe: when you’re first kneading the dough before you refrigerate it, it will take some work to make it come together. It might feel a little dry and crumbly, and like it’s barely holding together. Be patient…the refrigeration will fix that.

Speculaas
slightly adapted from Baked Explorations by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito*

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons butter, cool but not cold, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 egg, beaten
Pearl sugar

Whisk together the flour, brown sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger and salt. Drop the butter cubes over the flour mixture, and use a pastry cutter to cut the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse sand.

Add the beaten egg and cut the mixture again until just combined.

Knead the dough until it forms a ball (don’t overwork it!). And don’t forget my note above. Cover it in plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Unwrap and divide the chilled dough into two equal portions. Place one on a lightly flour-dusted work surface and return the other to the refrigerator.

Roll the dough about 1/4″ thick. Cut your dough into the desired shapes (I used a pizza cutter to cut it it into rectangles and squares) and transfer them to parchment-lined baking sheets, leaving about 1 inch between cookies.

Sprinkle the tops of the cookies with pearl sugar. Bake the cookies for 12-15 minutes, rotating the baking sheets halfway through the baking time. The tops of the cookie should be just a bit dry and dark brown. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, and then transfer the cookies to the racks to cool completely.

Store at room temperature, tightly covered, for up to 5 days. There probably won’t be any left after 5 days. Just sayin’.

 *This is a great cookbook. Perhaps you should invest in it. And no, I’m not being coerced into saying so.

speculaas 2

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