Speculaas

Does anyone else remember these?

My late cousin, Jen, married Gerrie who was Dutch.  In those days, I never knew much about Gerrie except that he was an orphan and had lived in an orphanage.

Whenever I misbehaved, my dad would threaten to send me to an orphanage.  I didn’t really understand the concept but I associated it with a home for kids who misbehaved.

Gerry had a special place in my mum’s heart.  She loved him dearly and he was always very kind to her.

Jen and Gerrie would regularly visit us for afternoon tea.  Sometimes, we had these biscuits.  I don’t know if Jen and Gerrie brought them or mum bought them as a special treat for Gerrie.  I am thinking the former because the only bought biscuits we had in our house were Milk Arrowroots and Saos.  If my mum bought them for Gerrie, that means she must have loved him lots.

I remember these biscuits being special and exotic and foreign. They used to have a windmill stamped on them.

These biscuits bring back fond memories of my innocence.  Whenever I see them in a shop, I buy a packet. Notwithstanding they are overly sweet and leave an oily taste in your mouth, they always bring a smile to my face.

Anyway, the other day I was browsing through The Complete Margaret Fulton Cookbook  (1974 edition) which I found at a second hand bookshop a few years back, when I noticed a recipe for Speculaas.  I was on to it.

  • 3 cups plain flour (cake flour)
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1tbs (20ml) ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • ½ tsp ground aniseed (If you can’t get any, just use aniseed seeds and grind them in your coffee grinder which is what I did.)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • 250g butter
  • 1½ cups firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 3 tbs rum or brandy
  1. Sift together the dry ingredients.
  2. Beat the butter until light and creamy.
  3. Add the brown sugar gradually, beating between each addition. Again, beat until light and fluffy.
  4. Stir in the rum or brandy.
  5. Add the dry ingredients with a spatula until well combined.
  6. Tip the contents onto the bench and knead into a ball.  I thought I was going to have to add more brandy but as I kneaded, the dough came together (damn it).
  7. Slightly flour bench and roll out dough.  At this stage, I had a dilemma.  I have lots of little cutters but nothing remotely reminiscent of Holland.  My book indicated that the biscuits are usually pressed into a mould (ie, the windmill) but I don’t have any.  The only stamp I have is a vine leaf so decided (rightly or wrongly) to run with that.
  8.  Press dough into moulds (if you have them) or cut dough into desired shape or cut into rounds and stamp with a vine leaf stamp:).
  9. Place biscuits on a tray lined with baking paper.

The instructions say bake at 190˚C for 12 minutes or until they are brown and firm.  As my oven is very hot and fan forced, I baked them at 175˚ C for 17 minutes (you don’t want them browning too much).

Please don’t judge these biscuits by their mundane appearance.  They are seriously yummy.  My only reservation is that the clove taste dominates so the next time I make them (and there will be a next time), I may slightly reduce the amount of ground cloves.

4 thoughts on “Speculaas

  1. Pingback: Speculaas Mark II | Passion Fruit Garden

  2. Pingback: In My Kitchen – July 2012 | Passion Fruit Garden

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