gingerbread: 3 posts

5 Festive Scents For Winter

Winter arrived sooner than I expected. I didn’t want it to come. I resisted its pleasures. Yet, the other day I woke up to a ballet of snowflakes in the air and I decided that I might as well derive small joys from this cold season. Wearing a warm perfume is one such delight, and I always recall how my mother would dab a tiny bit of Lancôme’s Magie Noire on my wool scarf “to help me stay warmer.” I still associate the spicy-mossy scent of this perfume with snowy days and New Year’s Eve preparations.

For my selection of festive fragrances today, I decided to pick perfumes that evoke the scent of fir trees and gingerbread. Some of them are abstract, others are more realistic. You can decide how far you want to take the fantasy and make your pick accordingly. As always, I would love to know what festive fragrance you like.

One more note: all of the fragrances on my list are suitable for both men and women.

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Perfume With the Aroma of Gingerbread

For anyone interested in perfumery, blending a gingerbread spice mixture can be a useful exercise. You can learn to create top, heart and base notes and to understand how spices interplay to create an aroma greater than the simple sum of their parts. Most European countries have their own gingerbread recipe and a combination of spices that gives each regional variation its distinctive flavor. My great-grandmother’s Ukrainian version was scented with cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, star anise and a hint of saffron. When I blended it myself following her proportions, I realized that it was similar to the “gingerbread perfume” accord I learnt how to make as a perfumery student, although my liquid version didn’t have the voluptuous richness of saffron.

In FT magazine column Mouthwatering Scents of Gingerbread, I write about spices, pastries and perfumes, including my four favorite fragrances with a gingerbread accord. To read the full article, please click here.

More on gingerbread: Ukrainian Honeycakes with Cinnamon :: Gingerbread Spice Blends :: Belgian Gingerbread (Speculoos) :: Dutch Cinnamon Cookies (Jan Hagel).

I’d love your opinion on other gingerbread redolent perfumes. Also, if anyone has a favorite recipe for the dark, moist, soft gingerbread or honeycake, I’d be most grateful.  

Photography by Bois de Jasmin, to make the printed gingerbread, I used the dough recipe for speculoos.

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.

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Latest Comments

  • Anna Kullgren in Chanel Chance Perfume Giveaway: I find that we perceive the winter outside as far darker than it actually is. Going outside perks me up immensely! I love the nostril-tingling smell of the cold coming,… February 2, 2023 at 9:09am

  • Delfine in Chanel Chance Perfume Giveaway: My strategies include hot chocolate, long walks wearing my favorite perfume, reading books to my daughter, cooking soups and stews. Not checking the weather to be pleasantly surprised if it’s… February 2, 2023 at 4:07am

  • Denise in Chanel Chance Perfume Giveaway: 1. I really struggle in the winter. I bought one of those lamps that mimics the light quality of sunlight and amazingly it does work. Super cheap on Amazon and… February 1, 2023 at 11:23pm

  • Amy in Chanel Chance Perfume Giveaway: Thank you to Annette for the giveaway and also asking such an excellent question! I’m sure I’ll refer back to these comments from time to time for inspiration. Keeping my… February 1, 2023 at 10:34pm

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