Belgian Gingerbread Treasure : Speculoos (Speculaas)

It’s called spéculoos in French, speculaas in Dutch, and Spekulatius in German, but by whatever name you call this fragrant gingerbread cookie, it will always evoke the scent of holidays in this part of the world. Speculoos may look humble, but take one bite, and you will know why it’s a favorite among Belgians. Perfumed with cinnamon, clove and cardamom, the cookie tastes of butter and caramel, and it’s impossible to have just one.

For me, speculoos is one of the quintessential Belgian tastes. Of course, there are also fries and waffles, but speculoos have their place of honor in this small country of 10 million, bridging the cultural divide between Dutch-speaking Flanders in the North and Francophone Wallonia in the South. Speculoos are eaten all over the Benelux region, with some areas such as Hasselt specializing in their own unique versions. Traditionally, the cookies were baked to celebrate Saint Nicholas Day on December 5th in the Netherlands and December 6th in Belgium, but today you can find them at bakeries all year round. In Paris you will be served your expresso with a square of dark chocolate, but your lait russe (café au lait) in Brussels will arrive with speculoos on the side.

Around winter holidays, speculoos at the bakeries are molded into elaborate shapes representing Saint Nicholas, women and men in traditional costumes, windmills and other fanciful figures. The famous pastry shop, Dandoy, appropriately located on Rue de Beurre (butter street) near the Grand Place in Brussels has been baking these gingerbread delicacies since 1829. After passing the store and finding myself lightheaded from the perfumes of cinnamon, honey and caramel, I decided that I will learn to make speculoos at home. Blending spices  is not too different from putting together a perfume, after all.

Speculoos are made from a shortbread dough that includes a high proportion of sugar, and there is nothing particularly difficult about the preparation. The most interesting part was to get the spices to sing. The cinnamon becomes a dark, luscious canvas for the lemony cardamom, green anise and tangy ginger. A surprising animalic sweetness of white pepper–so different from the zesty freshness of the black variety–adds further complexity.

The easiest way to make speculoos is to roll out the dough and cut cookies using the cutters of your choice. You can scatter a few slivered almonds, if you wish.  It shatters into crumbs as you  bite into it, and it’s delicious dipped in tea, coffee or red wine. In Belgium, a slice of buttered bread with crumbled speculoos has been a popular snack for kids, although these days you can buy ready-made speculoos spreads.

Speculoos (Speculaas)

My recipe is a result of experiments, but I used the guidelines from a wonderful book on Dutch baking, Koekje (Cookie) by Cees Holtkamp and Kees Raat before adapting my version.

It’s hard to be precise about the quantities of liquid in the dough, because every type of flour absorbs water differently. In my experience, North American  flour requires much more liquid than European flour, but start with the quantity suggested and add more if the dough doesn’t come together. If you want to make the traditional molded cookies, the dough has to be very firm, almost crumbly, in order to hold the design. (For the cut out cookies, the dough should be softer.) Be prepared for the first few attempts to be less than picture perfect, especially if you’re using brand new molds. Many professional bakers recommend using rice flour for dusting the molds, but whatever you use, be generous.

If you’re using a store-bought spice blend, feel free to increase the quantity to 5-6 teaspoons. Prepackaged mixtures tend to pack less punch than the homemade variety.

Makes about 4 dozen round speculoos

300g (2 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
135g (9 1/2 Tablespoons) unsalted butter
180g (1 cup minus 1 Tablespoon) dark brown sugar
3g (1/2 teaspoon) salt
6g (1 1/4 teaspoon) baking powder
9g (3 teaspoons) speculoos spices (see below)
30g (2 Tablespoons) buttermilk or milk (or more, if you want softer dough for rolling out; see the headnote)

slivered almonds for decorating the cookies
rice flour for dusting the speculoos mold

In a bowl, sift together flour, salt, baking powder, and spices. In another bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Add the flour mixture and stir with your fingers. Add milk tablespoon by tablespoon, mixing after each addition, until the dough comes together into a firm mass. Do not overwork. Form into a disk, wrap in plastic and chill overnight. The long rest allows for the flavors to develop.

Cut Out Cookies

Heat oven to 350°F/175°C. Using a rolling pin, roll out dough on a floured surface to a 1⁄8″ thickness. Cut out cookies using the cookie cutters of your choice and place speculoos 2″ apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Repeat with remaining dough, rerolling scraps. Bake speculoos, 1 sheet at a time, until browned and set, about 7-10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let speculoos cool.

Molded Cookies

Heat oven to 300°F/150°C. Break off a chunk of dough, keeping the rest in the fridge. If using a speculoos mold, sprinkle it liberally with rice flour, and press chunks of dough into the impressions and cut away the excess dough with a sharp knife. Invert mold, tap it the table to release dough. You can use a small paring knife to loosen the edges. Place speculoos 2″ apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake speculoos, 1 sheet at a time, until browned and set, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let speculoos cool.

Belgian Speculoos Spice Mix

I shared several gingerbread spice mixtures last year, but I want to add this blend as well. Cinnamon is the dominant note, but the perfumes of pepper, ginger, anise and cardamom give this mixture a spark. In modern Belgian cuisine, speculoos spice mix is used to add flavor to marinades for meat, accent fruit compotes and hot drinks. I’m always tempted to rub it on my neck, although more sensibly I instead reach for my bottle of Serge Lutens Five O’Clock Au Gingembre or Frédéric Malle Noir Epices.

6g cinnamon (2 teaspoon ground)
2g clove (1/2 teaspoon ground)
2g nutmeg (1/2 teaspoon ground)
2g anise seed(1/2 teaspoon ground)
1g cardamom (1/4 teaspoon ground)
1g ginger powder (1/4 teaspoon ground)
1g white pepper (1/4 teaspoon ground)

Speculoos and gingerbread molds are available at Cookie Mold (hand-carved molds) and House on the Hill (resin replicas).

Photography by Bois de Jasmin

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89 Comments

  • Mer: Lovely! I have to finally dare to bake some :) you’ve given me the motivation. December 14, 2012 at 7:26am Reply

    • Victoria: They’re not hard at all, especially if you make the cut out cookies. Just make sure that the dough is pliable (for the cut out cookies, you will definitely need more than 2 Tablespoons of buttermilk). December 14, 2012 at 12:06pm Reply

  • Annemarie: I love speculaas! Sometimes, especially during fall, I really crave some and buy them in the supermarket or at a bakery. But they are always disappointing – to hard, to sweet, no spices – they are not half as good as the ones my mother makes. She has several molds and always uses rice flour to dust them. For a while rice flour was no longer sold nearby and she had to try other flours but none of them really worked. She told me many people think you have to put the molds in oven. She does not make her own spice mix but buys it ready mixed (called ‘speculaaskruiden’). December 14, 2012 at 7:58am Reply

    • Victoria: I find that the rice flour doesn’t absorb that easily into the cookies and even if it does, it helps to give them more crunch. I buy mine from an Asian grocery store. I agree with you, homemade speculoos are so much better than the commercial ones! December 14, 2012 at 12:10pm Reply

  • Elizabeth: Spekulatius! Yes indeed, they are addictive. I will be spending Christmas in Germany this year, and I plan to eat more than my fill of Christmas treats. My boyfriend has promised gingerbread for breakfast every morning. :-) December 14, 2012 at 9:16am Reply

    • Victoria: Where in Germany are you going to be, Elizabeth? We’re going to Aachen this weekend, and I already made plans to research their famous Printen gingerbread. Anyway, almost everywhere in Germany you will encounter amazing gingerbreads. December 14, 2012 at 12:12pm Reply

      • Elizabeth: I’ll be on the opposite side of the country. Schwerin is in the northeast. Have a wonderful time in Aachen! Be sure to see the cathedral when you’re there. And of course pick up lots of Printen. My personal favorite Aachen treats are the Dominosteine (chocolate-covered gingerbread, marzipan, and jam squares). December 14, 2012 at 1:27pm Reply

        • Victoria: I’ve been to Aachen in the summer, but I really would love to see it decorated for Christmas. The cathedral is gorgeous! Speaking of perfume, I also discovered that Aachen has a surprisingly dense concentration of niche perfume boutiques for such a small town.

          And I really hope to visit Nuremberg in Bavaria for Christmas at some point. It’s supposed to have a really beautiful Christmas market, and of course, it has its own unique gingerbread version. December 14, 2012 at 1:41pm Reply

          • Cornelia Blimber: Nürnberg is the place to be for Speculatius and Lebkuchen! December 14, 2012 at 1:47pm Reply

      • Anna Minis: Aachen!! The residence of Charlemagne! Don’t forget this great emperor when you are looking for German Sinterklaas planken. Also the opera: Aachen used to have a good operahouse. Herbert von Karajan started his carreer there. Wish you a marvellous weekend in this beautiful town! December 14, 2012 at 1:34pm Reply

        • Victoria: I had no idea about von Karajan and his Aachen connection. Thank you, Anna. Aachen is a short drive away from Brussels, so we might explore the opera too next time. December 14, 2012 at 1:43pm Reply

      • nikki: Oh great, Aaachen, you have to see the Dome where Karl the Great was crowned in 800! Also, it was near Aaachen that Marlene Dietrich first arrived in Germany with the American army after freezing in the Ardennes and the German women looked far and wide to find ingredients to bake her a cake. Poor Marlene, she broke down in tears when she heard about it. This is from her DVD by her grandson called “Her own song”. December 17, 2012 at 10:20am Reply

  • iodine: I had some speculaas- gift from a friend that visited Rotterdam some weeks ago- this morning at breakfast!
    Then, after having had a slice of a rich pain d’épices I bought last week in a Christmas market in Colmar, France, I was looking up for recipes… Thanks for this one, I’ll try and make them!
    (Tasting pain d’épices I was thinking of how it reminded me of Tea for two!) December 14, 2012 at 9:27am Reply

    • Victoria: Tea for Two really does smell like pain d’epices to me too!
      I hope that you like this recipe. I’ve tried several different proportions of spices, but this one really hits the spot for me. It’s cinnamony, but it also allows for the other spices to sing. December 14, 2012 at 12:17pm Reply

  • marsha: I do not do much baking as a rule; however, I just may have to try these! I love all of these flavors! December 14, 2012 at 9:47am Reply

    • Victoria: The combination of spices and dark brown sugar is so addictive. I love gingerbreads in general, so I’m always happy to get some speculoos with my cup of coffee. December 14, 2012 at 12:20pm Reply

  • Austenfan: So there is another Cees Holtkamp book. Is it any good? Did you get Le patissier as well?
    Speculaas is wonderful one of my favourite pastries.
    I love the photos, and you could always dust your hair with some speculaaskruiden! December 14, 2012 at 9:47am Reply

    • Victoria: Yes, I ended up buying Le Patissier, and when I searched for the other books the author has written, I came upon Koekje. It has only the cookie recipes, but almost all of the traditional ones are featured. They don’t provide the spice mixture recipes though.
      Le Patissier is great too. Thank you again for your recommendations. A good Dutch practice. December 14, 2012 at 12:22pm Reply

      • Austenfan: I may actually have to get his books myself, they sound so good. December 14, 2012 at 3:11pm Reply

        • Victoria: I especially liked that Koekje has a picture of every cookie they discuss, which is very helpful. All in all, it’s a fantastic addition to my baking library. December 14, 2012 at 3:41pm Reply

  • Kristina K: I loveeee speculaas, they are my favorite cookies! :) December 14, 2012 at 10:24am Reply

    • Victoria: I also find them just irresistible. :) December 14, 2012 at 12:28pm Reply

  • jess: Your photos are yummy! I’m tempted to bake some cookies this weekend. December 14, 2012 at 10:43am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you, Jess! I hope that you like them. December 14, 2012 at 12:29pm Reply

  • Leah: Oh how I love speculoos! Even the manufactured ones you receive when ordering cafe. Thanks for this Victoria, lovely December 14, 2012 at 10:46am Reply

    • Victoria: I do too. The combo of coffee and gingerbread is fantastic. I really want to make a cake using these two flavors. Or imagine coffee ice cream with a ginger flavored caramel sauce! December 14, 2012 at 1:27pm Reply

  • Anna in Edinburgh: Such good timing, Victoria!

    I had been looking online for recipes for these cookies, and had bookmarked some promising ones, but I can try yours as a priority instead:-)

    many thanks! December 14, 2012 at 11:01am Reply

    • Victoria: It been snowing on and off, and somehow whenever it snows I can’t resist baking gingerbread. :)

      Hope that you like this recipe! December 14, 2012 at 1:29pm Reply

  • Claire: I love Speculaas, especially the thin version. I’ve never tried making it at home so thanks for sharing the recipe. December 14, 2012 at 11:18am Reply

    • Victoria: I especially enjoy making my own spice mixtures, because the flavor of a homemade mix just can’t be compared. Most commercial blends include lots of cinnamon (or cassia, the least expensive spice) and hardly much of anything else. December 14, 2012 at 1:34pm Reply

      • Claire: I agree with you, too much cinnamon renders the cookies rather.. flat, no depth! I think the recipe above has good combination of spices (especially white pepper, a nice surprise to me!), and a while back, I think I tried a commercial version where the speculaas is even spiked with a touch of coffee.

        I went to Maison Dandoy website, I wonder if there are stores in the U.S. that carry their biscuits. Do you have any information about this? December 15, 2012 at 12:34am Reply

        • Victoria: Speculoos with a touch of coffee sound perfect! Mmmmm….

          In NYC, Borne Confections sells them (along with many other interesting treats).
          485 Park Avenue, New York NY 10022
          212-755-5150 December 15, 2012 at 4:48am Reply

          • Claire: Thanks for the info, once again, Victoria! December 15, 2012 at 1:48pm Reply

  • Jessica: So funny! Just last night, I stopped at a “Wafels & Dinges” truck at Columbus Circle and had my first taste of speculoos spread on a big, delicious waffle. Heavenly! I’ll think of you when I go back and have another. ;) December 14, 2012 at 11:37am Reply

    • Victoria: It sounds wonderful! We’ve spent the first three months in Belgium eating the speculoos spread on bread for breakfast. It’s so addictive, especially the kind that has little pieces of crunchy speculoos. December 14, 2012 at 1:36pm Reply

  • Tatiana: I lived in the Netherlands almost 20 years ago and fell in love with Speculaas then. I have tried many recipes for making them, always trying to find one that is spiced the way I remember them, from so long ago. I am looking forward to trying your recipe this Christmas season. Thanks for so generously sharing this recipe with your readers! Happy Holidays! December 14, 2012 at 11:40am Reply

    • Victoria: My pleasure, Tatiana! I know from my experience in replicating the Russian gingerbread that it’s very hard to get the spice combination exactly right to match what you remember. It takes a few trials. But at least, the results will invariably be delicious. December 14, 2012 at 1:50pm Reply

  • Carla: I am making speculoos today! December 14, 2012 at 11:42am Reply

    • Victoria: Please let me know how they turn out! December 14, 2012 at 1:47pm Reply

  • MADCUTE: These are my absolute favorite cookies! They are the perfect accompaniment to tea. December 14, 2012 at 11:45am Reply

    • Victoria: Glad to see so many speculoos fans! :) December 14, 2012 at 1:46pm Reply

  • Anne Sheffield: Hello! And thank you! I can t wait to try out your recipe!!!! I love spekulos!! Xmas in a cookie. Thank you! December 14, 2012 at 11:56am Reply

    • Victoria: Xmas in a cookie! I love that, Anne. Yes, that’s how I feel about gingerbread too. :) December 14, 2012 at 1:44pm Reply

  • Carla: I am turning to your recipe as a reference, because my recipe is French and calls for a “pincee” of salt, spices, etc, and I’m never sure if that should be 1/8 or 1/4 or 1/2 tsp. I don’t want them too spicy but I want them spicy enough. I was going to do 1/2 tsp salt but I see you have a lot less, so I will start with less. (I’m using a recipe with 200 g flour but I’m doubling it.) I think I like a tsp spices for every 100 g flour. That’s about what I found in this month’s Bon Appetit recipe for “speculoos buttons”, which are on the cover. Thank you! (I am using Christophe Felder’s recipe from Elle a Table from last year. In the past I used another Gourmet or Bon Appetit recipe but the ginger was too strong.) December 14, 2012 at 12:52pm Reply

    • Victoria: Carla, I’ve added the grams for salt, for those who prefer to weigh the ingredients. It’s 1g per 100g of flour (and for 300g of flour that would be 3g or about 1/2 teaspoon, according to the online conversions; I don’t use teaspoons or cups, I weigh everything). A bit more salt is better, because it really enhances the flavor of spices.

      Here is the formula for the recipe that you can adjust to whatever quantity of flour you want:
      Flour 100g
      Butter 45g
      Dark Brown Sugar 60g
      Baking powder 2g
      Salt 1g
      Spices 3g
      Liquid 10g or as much as needed

      The book that I mentioned in my post recommend 6g (~2 teaspoons) of spices for every 100g of flour, but with a freshly ground spice mix, it’s too much. Some other professional baking books recommend anywhere between 3 to 5g spices, so it’s really your call. I prefer to taste the rummy caramel of dark brown sugar and the sweetness of butter as well as the spices. December 14, 2012 at 1:18pm Reply

      • Carla: Thank you very much. I just made mine with 3 tsp ground spices per 100 gr flour and very little salt and they are very lightly spiced, which is fine, since they are for children too. I think I do like them somewhat stronger tasting, though. My three year old daughter and I cut out the shapes and it was a real lesson in patience. Very time consuming. I’m not sure if I’m up to icing them now. December 14, 2012 at 4:04pm Reply

        • Carla: I meant 1 tsp ground spices per 100 gr flour = very lightly spiced. December 14, 2012 at 4:05pm Reply

          • Carla: Just to further clarify, my spices were not freshly ground… store-bought ground… December 14, 2012 at 4:12pm Reply

          • Victoria: It really depends on how vibrant your spices are (and of course, what spice mix you use). For instance, almost any freshly ground mix will pack more punch than anything store bought (or that has been sitting in the cupboard for a few months). Cinnamon, cardamom, clove and pepper especially lose potency within days of being ground, which is why I would recommend storing the homemade spice blends in the freezer.

            A good test to see how zesty your spices are is to open the jar and take a sniff. If the spices tingle your nose, it’s a good sign that they are fresh and full of flavor. December 14, 2012 at 4:22pm Reply

            • Carla: Thanks. I’ve been thinking of getting a spice grinder. I cook so often, my spices don’t sit too long, but still… December 16, 2012 at 7:35pm Reply

              • Victoria: I use a cheap coffee grinder for large quantities and a mortar and pestle for small amounts. It makes such a difference. December 17, 2012 at 3:46am Reply

        • Victoria: Sounds fun though! :) December 14, 2012 at 4:22pm Reply

  • Almi: Thank you very much Victoria for the recipe of the Speculaas spice mix! I’m a Puerto Rican/American living in Rotterdam, the Netherlands for the past 5 years and these are my favorite cookies. I use them during the holidays a lot, specially to make anything from cheesecake crust, parfait and a fab topping for a raspberry tiramisú. By the way, thanks for your perfume suggestion, Stella by Stella McCartney is now my favorite scent and I’ve gotten so many compliments for it :) December 14, 2012 at 1:20pm Reply

    • Victoria: I’m so happy to hear that you like Stella and that our perfume recommendations worked. It’s one of my own favorites, and I find that it’s both elegant and playful, a great combo.

      I’ve noticed that here almost everything can include speculoos or speculoos spices. Speculoos ice cream is now my top favorite ice cream flavor! December 14, 2012 at 1:53pm Reply

  • rosiegreen: Thanks for the recipe. These are one of my favorite cookies. Time to do some baking. December 14, 2012 at 6:51pm Reply

    • Victoria: I always get inspired to bake on a cold day when nothing tempts me to go outside. And we have plenty of those days here! :) December 15, 2012 at 4:43am Reply

  • Meg: I have wildly loved Speculaas since childhood. Though here in the US they are sold simply as “windmill cookies” (and come from no other mold), even the most generic storebought species of this confection is spicy, buttery, and studded with slivered almonds. As a kid, I had to be put under strict surveillance whenever a package of these cookies entered the house. They (along with pfeffernusse and hussarn) are the winter season to me. Thank you so much for this reminder, which reconnects me to the past! December 14, 2012 at 8:28pm Reply

    • Victoria: A nice memory! I can relate to your inability to stop yourself from consuming a whole box. The commercial speculoos here in Belgium are not that buttery, they are more on the dry, crunchy side, but they are really addictive. A favorite brand around here is Lotus, and that’s what you usually get with your coffee–a little Lotus cookie. They also make an even more addictive speculoos spread. December 15, 2012 at 4:47am Reply

  • Esperanza: Thanks for the recipes, Victoria. I was surprised you know the books from Cees Holtkamp and Kees Raat. But read Austenfan is one of your Dutch readers, another Austenfan here from Amsterdam !

    The pastries from the Holtkamp shop are legendary in Amsterdam. If you go to Amsterdam some time give them a try ! In the netherlands they sell Speculaas filled with marzipan during St Nicolaas with is wonderfull as well, called gevuld speculaas.

    I like to sip my speculaas in lapsang souchong tea especially. Wonderful combination ! December 15, 2012 at 5:48am Reply

    • Victoria: Traditional recipes fascinate and inspire me, so I’m always looking for books on this topic. I would love to explore it all more. So, thank you for your recommendations. I’m adding the Holtkamp shop to my list of places to visit in Amsterdam.

      Your combination of speculoos and lapsang souchong also sounds too good not to try! December 15, 2012 at 6:23am Reply

      • Cornelia Blimber: Holtkamp, Vijzelstraat 15. Take tram 16 or 24 from the Central Station. Also worth trying: the famous Holtkamp kroketten. December 15, 2012 at 4:13pm Reply

        • Victoria: Thank you so much, Cornelia! Added it to my notes. December 15, 2012 at 4:33pm Reply

  • maja: Thank you so much! I’m going to try this as soon as I can :)

    ps. à propos Noir Epices – I was wearing it a couple of days ago while enjoying figs poached in wine, orange zest and cinnamon (Alice Waters’ recipe). A match made in heaven! December 15, 2012 at 7:00am Reply

    • maja: And if I may suggest a wonderful cookie recipe – Baci di Dama by David Lebovitz recently appeared on his website. Simple ingredients, a bit time-consuming but extraordinary! We couldn’t believe how good they were! :) December 15, 2012 at 7:04am Reply

      • Victoria: I was just looking at that recipe! Glad to hear that they turned out so well. I might try them soon, esp since I have a whole bag of rice flour left over from my speculoos experiments. December 15, 2012 at 4:13pm Reply

    • Victoria: I can just imagine how well they went together! I don’t know what I’m craving more right now, Noir Epices or that fig compote. December 15, 2012 at 4:11pm Reply

  • Daisy: These sound and look absolutely wonderful. Bravo, Victoria!

    I have the same problem with the N. American/European flour conversion. Oftentimes, I just give up and refer back to Julia’s Mastering the Art.

    However, some of my readers were recommending that I look for White Lily flour, the soft milled stuff they use to make biscuits in the South. I will have to wait till I visit my family in the Memphis to haul some back and give it a try. Dean and Deluca sometimes carries it, but charges $12 for a pound. That’s obscene! December 15, 2012 at 10:46am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you, Daisy! I go through the gingerbread phases time to time. Last summer I made about 10 varieties and that only covered one Russian region!

      I especially notice the difference in flour when I bake bread. The flour in the US easily takes 1/4 cup or so more water that the European flour. And well, it is just so much better for bread baking. But the European style flour is better for pastries and pasta. If you have access to the Russian stores, you can find all-purpose flour there (Russian Makfa brand is the most popular one). It is great for all sorts of pastries and makes the lightest crepes too. December 15, 2012 at 4:21pm Reply

      • Daisy: Making a note of Makfa! Fascinating about different basic ingredients in different countries. I just heard Thomas Keller on WNYC-NPR this morning talking about how difficult it is for him to keep the baguettes baked for all of his restaurants consistent. I was completely unaware that different mills mill flour differently (kind of obvious, now that it is pointed out). But not only that, each harvest is different, so each milled batch is different.

        It must be really hard to be Keller’s baker! December 18, 2012 at 2:51am Reply

  • Andy: These sound fantastic! Such a beautiful post. My curiosity is piqued, though I must say that I’d really prefer to get the molds and bake them that way than to make the rolled out version. Even though they might taste exactly the same, the fact that the cookies are typically molded seems to be part of what makes speculoos so unique. December 15, 2012 at 1:34pm Reply

    • Victoria: I can relate to this, Andy. I really wanted to try making them in the traditional manner at least once, and you know, it is satisfying to make them this way. Made me feel as if I were a kid making sand pies. :) December 15, 2012 at 4:25pm Reply

  • Az: Lovely recipe! I’d have to try this – I must say the pictures are very inspirational. (and aspirational!)

    Do you (or anyone else) have a recipe for a gingerbread that is more cake than biscuit or bread? I have tried a dozen, but they always turn out biscuit-y or bread-y. December 15, 2012 at 3:57pm Reply

  • paola: Wow, just what I’ve been looking for these days. An easy recipe for Christmas cookies. Thanks. Paola. December 16, 2012 at 8:50am Reply

    • Victoria: You’re welcome, Paola! I hope that you like it. December 16, 2012 at 2:54pm Reply

  • Bela: I should love them b/c I love all those spices, and the soft gingerbread that’s on sale in France, but I find speculoos much too sweet, and I’m not fond of the texture either. I brought back a whole lot from my last stay in Brussels since you get one every time you have a hot drink in cafés there. LOL! December 16, 2012 at 9:23am Reply

    • Victoria: Maison Dandoy also sells the soft gingerbread, which is more like a cake, and it’s wonderful. The flavor is different from the French pain d’epices, since it’s more peppery (and less anise).

      But you’re right, if you go out in Brussels, you can quickly amass a big pile of speculoos. They are ubiquitous with every cup of tea or coffee. December 16, 2012 at 2:58pm Reply

  • Hannah: Those look amazing!

    I have a question though: In the US, we use the word “speculoos” to refer to a gingerbread spread. What the spread called in Belgium? Just curious! December 16, 2012 at 4:16pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you, they seem so festive to me, since I associate the scent of spices with Christmas baking.

      In Belgium the spread is called Pâte de spéculoos or Pâte à tartiner aux spéculoos in French or Speculoospasta in Flemish. December 16, 2012 at 4:26pm Reply

  • nozknoz: When I was growing up (in the US), one of the standard types of cookies in the supermarket were “windmill cookies” that looked a lot like the windmill-shaped speculoos in one of your lovely photos. I avoid the cookie aisle now in my efforts to avoid processed foods, but a Google search reveals that they still exist and are sometimes labeled Dutch Windmill Cookies. I guess speculaas would have been too much of a tongue-twister!

    It might be possible to use your tempting spice mix as perfume – I’ve read that some Japanese put a touch of incense powder in their hair. December 16, 2012 at 11:15pm Reply

    • nozknoz: I forgot to mention, the American “Dutch Windmill Cookies” not only look like speculoos, they also have spices and almond flakes, so I believe they are evidence of a speculoos diaspora. December 16, 2012 at 11:22pm Reply

    • Victoria: I also googled speculaas and Dutch Windmill Cookies, and it seems that speculoos are called Biscoff as well!

      I’ve added spice powder into the homemade potpourri. Mixed with some sandalwood, it really makes a nice perfume. December 17, 2012 at 5:11am Reply

  • Amy V.: Thanks so much for the recipe! It looks nice and straightforward, so I will try it this week! I’ll just made plain round ones for my first try I think.

    My Dutch Oma has several lovely old wooden speculaas moulds which were hung on the walls in her old kitchen. December 16, 2012 at 11:23pm Reply

    • Victoria: Do you still have those molds? I went to an old German bakery recently, and I noticed that the walls were decorated with the beautiful molds. They were like works of art.

      The roll out kind is definitely the easiest! December 17, 2012 at 3:49am Reply

      • Amy V.: I certainly hope Oma still has the moulds! I’ll have to ask, they might have been put away for safekeeping. December 17, 2012 at 4:46pm Reply

  • Nisse: These look wonderful! When my grandfather would pick me up from school we would always have a few of the store bought windmill cookies, me with milk, him with coffee. So I’m very excited to try making these. I noticed that the ingredients list baking powder but the directions list baking soda. Which should I use? I googled other speculaas recipes and they can use both but am not certain with this recipe. Help! December 23, 2012 at 1:26pm Reply

    • Victoria: Nisse, I use baking powder. I’ve experimented using both, but baking powder gives a more consistent result, especially if you want to make molded cookies. You don’t want the dough to rise too much (and to lose the design). Plus, if you are not using buttermilk or something sour in the dough, baking soda won’t react properly and there will be an unpleasant aftertaste in the baked cookie.

      Not sure where you’re located, but the North American flour will definitely need more liquid than what I indicated. So, add buttermilk or milk little by little until the dough can be shaped into a ball. I hope that the cookies turn out well! December 23, 2012 at 3:02pm Reply

      • Nisse: Thank you for replying so fast! I ended up choosing baking soda because I used buttermilk and I don’t have a mold so I’m going to use cookie cutters. I’m in the US and the flour took a full cup of buttermilk to get the dough to come together (I doubled the recipe), I think that’s 15 or 16 tbsps. The dough smells amazing and tastes really yummy so I think the cookies should come out great! I really love your website and have learned so much about perfume here. Thank you again and Merry Christmas! December 23, 2012 at 3:37pm Reply

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