Speculoos are thin, crunchy, golden brown cookies that are traditionally baked and served around Christmas in much of Europe. The brown color comes from brown sugar, which gives the cookies most of their flavor. Many recipes will be lightly spiced with cinnamon, ginger and other spices, but the brown sugar is always the dominant flavor so that these don’t turn into just another gingersnap. They’re unique and delicious – especially if paired with coffee or tea, as they are perfect for dunking! Speculoos cookies are quite widely available now, and even if you haven’t had the cookies, you may already have gotten a taste of their flavor in the form of Biscoff, a cookie-butter spread that is made with them.
Homemade Speculoos are not difficult to make and they’re a great cookie to have around the house for snacking. A homemade batch means that you can customize the spice combination in the cookie dough to suit your tastes perfectly. When it comes to this type of cookie, I want the brown sugar flavor to be dominant and I don’t want to over-spice and turn them into gingersnaps. As a result, I use a little bit of a lot of different spices, which puts a wonderfully spicy top note on top of that brown sugar base.
I shape my cookie dough in a loaf pan and chill it well before cutting it into individual cookies. This method makes a neat log that is easy to slice. Aim for slices no thicker than 1/8-inch. Thinner slices of dough will bake into crispier cookies every time. The baking time will vary depending on how thick your slice your cookies, so check them to ensure that they are crispy before removing them from the oven to cool. This shaping method gives the finished cookies a lovely, uniform look.
The crisp cookies, like biscotti, keep extremely well and can be stored in an airtight container for at least a week and likely quite a bit longer. While they’re great to have around the house, they’re also a terrific food gift for the holidays because they pack, ship and store very well.
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice and cardamom.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla extract. With the mixer on low speed or working by hand, gradually blend in the flour mixture until the dough comes together.
Line a loaf pan (8×4 preferably) with plastic wrap. Press dough into the plastic-lined loaf pan and press it into an even rectangle. Cover dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 90 minutes or freeze for 45-60 minutes, until dough is firm.
Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Unwrap cookie dough and slice, using a sharp chefs knife, into 1/8-inch thick pieces. Arrange on prepared baking sheet.
Bake for 11-14 minutes, or until cookies are crisp and golden. The baking time may vary depending on how thick your dough is sliced; thinner slices result in crispier cookies.
Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.
Store in an airtight container.
Makes about 4 dozen