Speculoos Cookies trays

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Seasonal Traditions Help Mark Time

My family has several recipes that help us celebrate the passage of seasons and holidays.  We feel bound by tradition to make theses dishes each year.  For instance, we prepare Speculoos cookies for Thanksgiving and St. Nicholas Day.  Below are other seasonal traditions in our home:

In case you haven’t noticed, under the “Recipe” tab in the top menu, you can search for recipes by season or by holiday.  Check it out for new ideas for a particular time of the year.

One treat I enjoyed in Belgium all year long was Liège Waffles (in Dutch known as Luikse Wafels).  If you’d like to make your own Belgian waffles at home, try this authentic recipe.

 

Seasons in Los Angeles

In Belgium, it’s easy to be aware of the change of seasons.  In the spring, new growth pops up after a bleak winter.  Everything appears deep green during the summer when everyone comes outside to enjoy the good weather.  In fall, the air becomes more crisp, the colors turn yellow, orange and brown, and pumpkins seem omnipresent.  Then in winter days are short, wet and cold.

People tend to eat meals that match the season.  Heavier, warmer dishes during winter; lighter fresher meals during the summer.  Therefore, dishes can be seasonal.  We look forward to eating particular dishes at the same time each year.

In Los Angeles, there are very few differences from one season to the next.  It’s generally warm, sunny and dry all year long.  Nevertheless, Angelenos complain about the cold winter air or a little bit of rain.  Yet, it’s all relative.  For people living in climates with seasons, they’d have a hard time detecting the variations.

Since I moved back to Los Angeles from Belgium last year, I’ve been less inspired to make dishes I usually associate with seasons. With the weather staying more or less the same, the menu options vary less drastically than in colder climates.

 

Making Speculoos Cookies

Every Thanksgiving I start making Speculoos cookies for the crust of my pumpkin pie.  True to its name, it’s absolutely to die for!  The spices in the Speculoos cookies blend harmoniously with the pie filling.  Try it to see why my family keeps asking me to make it year after year.

Every year I wonder why I don’t make Speculoos cookies more often.  They are super easy and fun to make, especially with kids.   Children can help mix the dough and then use the cookie cutters to make different shapes.

 

Speculoos Cookies Ingredients
Ingredients and Speculoos Cookies

Speculoos are everywhere in Belgium and the Netherlands in the weeks leading up to St. Nicholas Day in early December.  Parents customarily give Speculoos cookies to their kids to celebrate St. Nicholas.  Large ones, smaller ones.  Some are made by hand, others by machine.  Originally, bakers used large wooden forms carved in the shape of St. Nicholas himself to form the Speculoos cookies.  Over the years, I have accumulated a large box of cookie cutters in all shapes to prepare my cookies.

 

Doggie Speculoos cookie
Doggie Speculoos cookie

 

Speculoos Cookies teddy bear
Teddy Bear Speculoos cookie

 

Heart Speculoos cookie
Heart Speculoos cookie

 

To find out more about Speculoos cookies, click on this description.

This holiday season, try making Speculoos cookies by yourself or with kids.  You’ll discover how easy they are to prepare and you will start your own traditions.

How to Make Authentic Speculoos Cookies
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Speculoos cookies are lightly spiced and shaped in different forms. Making speculoos cookies is a child-friendly activity. Try making speculoos around the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. The times indicated below are for preparing ALL the cookies. Each batch takes about 15 minutes to bake.
Chef:Belgian Foodie
Servings Prep Time Cook Time Passive Time
90cookies 70minutes 90minutes 30minutes
Servings Prep Time
90cookies 70minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
90minutes 30minutes
  • Course
  • Cuisine
  • Season
Ingredients
Servings: cookies
Units:
Ingredients
Servings: cookies
Units:
Instructions
Mixing Dough
  1. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and brown sugar together.
  2. Add one egg at a time, mixing about 30 to 60 seconds after each one.
  3. In another bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and spices. Then add about 1/3 of the flour mixture to the butter-sugar mixture. Mix lightly until incorporated. Repeat in 2 steps for the next 2/3 of the flour mixture.
  4. Make a ball with the dough. Knead gently on a floured cutting board only to make sure all ingredients are mixed well together. If the dough sticks to your hands or the cutting board, add a little more flour until it's no longer sticky. Wrap the ball of dough in plastic wrap and put in refrigerator. Leave at least 30 minutes. I usually leave it overnight. It can stay in the refrigerator 24 hours without any problems.
Rolling and Baking
  1. Remove the dough from the refrigerator about 15 minutes before rolling. Preheat oven to 350°F / 175°C (see notes below). Cut dough in three parts. Flatten the first part. Roll it out on a floured cutting board until the dough is about 1/12 inch / 2 millimeters thick. A little thicker is ok too. Be careful not to roll the dough too thin or else the cookies will break or burn. Gather the remaining dough and roll it out again to create new shapes.
  2. Use your cookie cutters to create shapes. Place the cut-out shapes of dough onto a baking sheet lined with baking paper. Put the filled baking sheet into the oven (on the middle rack). Let bake until the cookies are lightly brown on top (about 15 minutes). Remove cookies from oven and let them cool on a rack.
  3. While you bake each pan of cookies, continue rolling out the rest of the dough. You will thus roll-out and bake simultaneously. Therefore the time indicated for rolling out and baking will overlap to a large extent.
  4. After all the cookies are baked and cooled off, enjoy! If you create shapes the size of my cookies in the photo, you will make about 45 cookies per egg. Share with friends!
Recipe Notes
  1. You can mix dark and light brown sugar for this recipe.  However, it's best to add mostly dark brown sugar, for instance 2/3 dark brown and 1/3 light brown sugar.  Yet, if you use only dark brown sugar will give a deeper flavor.
  2. If you bake the cookies in a convection oven, follow the instructions for the oven.  You can generally decrease the temperature to 325°F / 165°
Written by:Belgian Foodie

Nutrition Facts
How to Make Authentic Speculoos Cookies
Amount Per Serving
Calories 54 Calories from Fat 18
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 2g 3%
Saturated Fat 1g 5%
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.1g
Monounsaturated Fat 1g
Cholesterol 10mg 3%
Sodium 12mg 1%
Potassium 17mg 0%
Total Carbohydrates 8g 3%
Dietary Fiber 0.2g 1%
Sugars 4g
Protein 1g 2%
Vitamin A 1%
Vitamin C 0.02%
Calcium 1%
Iron 2%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

33 thoughts on “How to Make Authentic Speculoos Cookies

    1. Thanks, Ellen. These cookies are wonderful with tea, coffee, milk and ice cream! However, they are not gluten free since they contain flour. You could try to make them with a non-gluten alternative. Please share your result if you do.

      1. I must follow a GF lifestyle, so converting recipes has become an activity that may be challenging, but rewarding. I find that Bob’s Red Mill 1 to 1 GF flour blend is very versatile. I’m going to “play” with this recipe, and will post what happens! We love spice cookies….great with a hot cup of tea.

  1. I thought you have to have true Belgium beet sugar to make this taste anywhere near what the “authentic” taste. Cane sugar covered in molassses doesn’t seem to equate to dark beet sugar.

    1. Hi, Barbara. Thanks for your comment. Try this recipe and see if you can taste any difference due to the type of sugar used. Given that this recipe is made with brown sugar, I don’t think anyone could taste the difference between brown sugar made from cane sugar and brown sugar made from beet sugar. The molasses flavor (or adding) would mask any difference there might be. Have you tasted Speculoos cookies with the beet sugar? You raise an interesting question. Many thanks!

      1. I’ve been making my brown sugar for decades now (45 yrs, to be exact). I use organic cane sugar and Grandma’s Molasses. I prefer the original molasses, not the dark one (a bit too bitter for me). I can regulate how light or dark I want my sugar, and the flavor and moisture that it lends to my recipes is wonderful. Another benefit: I never run out of brown sugar since I always have the required ingredients in my pantry. Highly recommend homemade brown sugar….

  2. What is meant by the top of the cloves, and if part of the whole clove, isn’t it rather chunky? Could I use ground cloves instead, in which case, qhat quantity, say for the 90-cookie quantity?

    1. Hello Fran, I usually use the top (cap) of the clove, which is easy to crumble down into powder form. However, you can put the entire clove in a grinder or use a mortar and pestle to break it down. Alternatively, as you mention ground cloves can also be used in this recipe. For 90 cookies, I’d suggest using about 1/4 teaspoon of ground cloves. The flavor of cloves goes a long way. A little bit packs a lot of flavor. If you want more clove flavor you can try using up to 1/2 teaspoon for a recipe. Write me back to let me know how your experience goes.

  3. My daughter just married a wonderful young man from Belgium- they’re currently on their honeymoon- 5 weeks split between Belgium and Thailand. When they return from their trip, right before St Nicholas Day, I wanted to surprise him with these traditional cookies before they head home to Nashville. Would these work well to make homemade biscoff butter? -(not sure I spelled it correctly) and is there such a thing as chocolate biscoff butter? I’d like to make a goody basket to send home with them for the holidays and thought I would combine two of his favorites. Thank you!
    One more question! I know Belgians are known for their chocolate but wonder which American brand of chocolate would you use for baking or for making chocolate mousse? Thank you, again.

    1. Hello Kim, your daughter is lucky to have such a thoughtful and generous mother! Yes, you can use these cookies to make Biscoff butter spread. Although I have not tried this recipe personally, here’s a popular recipe that you might try: https://www.craftsy.com/cooking/article/homemade-cookie-butter-recipe/ Yes, you can add some chocolate into the spread. Try adding it to some of the spread so you don’t sacrifice all of your spread. Chocolate mixes well with biscoff (speculoos) flavor. I often use Côte d’Or or Callebaut chocolate. Both of these are originally Belgian brands and can be found in specialty stores for chefs / restaurants. For American brands, I like Ghiradelli. Frankly, I don’t think the quality of the chocolate will make such a difference since you won’t need very much. I’d recommend using dark bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate. Let me know how it turns out.

      1. Thank you, Brad, I just made the dough for the speculoos and have it refrigerated to bake tomorrow. I took the time to brown my own sugar in the oven after reading the difference between European brown sugar and what we call brown sugar in the states. I think if you take the time to make something special or authentic, it’s worth the time and effort to get the authentic flavor. There is a distinct difference in the flavor of the sugar that I really love and will give the cookie another layer or depth to the flavor. Thank you, again for answering my questions. I am also making a dark chocolate stout cake for dessert, combining 2 of my new son in law’s favorite things- dark chocolate and beer! Ha!

    1. Hello Sapphire, they should last at least a few weeks in dry storage. Try to keep them away from light and air. Otherwise they should last awhile. You will probably eat them before they go bad.

    1. Hello Shadi, thanks for asking this question. Yes, speculoos cookies may also include cardamom, white pepper and mace. Like most traditional spice blends, everyone has their own favorite mix. You can definitely add a little cardamom to your cookies when you make them. Have you made them yet without cardamom? If so, let me know which recipe you prefer.

  4. I don’t eat eggs or anything with eggs in them. Is there something I can substitute for the eggs? Maybe arrowroot?

    1. Kelli, thanks for your question. In some vegan recipes I substitute eggs by a mixture of ground flax seed and water. For each egg, mix 1 tablespoon of ground flax seed and 3 tablespoons of water. Wait a few minutes until the mixture becomes gelatinous and then add to the recipe in the place of eggs. Try this substitute in this speculous cookie recipe and let me know what you think.

  5. This sounds amazing. I’m doing a personal project of baking cookies from around the world, and I’d like to make these. My question is, how long do these cookies last at room temperature? And what’s the best way to store them? Thank you! 🙂

    1. Catherine, I never keep them for too long. I have however baked them one week and kept them for the next week wrapped in aluminum foil inside a plastic container, such as Tupperware. Putting them in the refrigerator may dry them out. If you are using them to make a Speculoos Pie Crust for Thanksgiving, you can grind the cookies and then keep the crumbs in a plastic container or bag in the refrigerator until you need them. I’ve even frozen the crumbs to keep for a future use. However, freezing them reduces their flavor a little so you might need to add a little spice to the crumbs before using them later. Hope this helps you.

  6. B,
    You have inspired me to make these with my two grandchildren, since I will have them both for 2 weeks over the holidays. 😱😱. My grandson will be 7 in December and my granddaughter is 3&1/2. WISH ME LUCK.!
    HAPPY THANKSGIVING with ♥️.
    Katie

  7. I’m finding the butter ratio too low in this recipe. The dough is way to dry and crumbly. I even initially used a touch more egg as the batch I was making didn’t call for an even number of egg so I rounded up with the yolk which should have increased fat content significantly.

    1. Hi Daniel, thanks for your feedback. I’m not sure what’s happening since I just made a new batch following this recipe and did not encounter this problem. Did you let the dough rest? What size eggs did you use? The volume of eggs can vary significantly from one egg to another. If your dough does not come together in a ball, try adding a little bit of water. As little as possible until it holds together. Let me know how you do. Thanks.

  8. This is a great recipe! I did change it a little to meet my dietary needs (no commercial wheat and dairy-free). I used 300 g spelt flour (absorbs more liquid than regular flour, so I used less) and 100 g almond flour. I also used plant-based butter (new from Country Crock). For speed, I didn’t cut them into shapes, but scooped them with my little cookie scoop and dropped them into a bowl of sugar. Rolled them around to coat them, then on the cookie sheet, I flattened them with the bottom of a glass. Baked for 15 mins and they were perfect! My family can’t tell that I didn’t use AP flour, so that’s a win! I think my family in Belgium will be jealous 🙂

    1. Hey Amanda, thanks for sharing your experience. I appreciate knowing about other options to meet special dietary requirements. I think your Belgian family will definitely be jealous!

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