Since receiving the Sweet cookbook from Ottolenghi for my birthday 12 months ago, I have been systematically working my way through a lot of the recipes. All, which have been delicious. There are several recipes in there that are definitely more Christmassy than others, so I have been waiting to try some of them until this joyous time of year. One of these recipes is the Speculaas Biscuits on page 37.
Speculaas biscuits are a Dutch spiced shortbread, which are traditionally baked for St Nicholas Day (6th December) in the Netherlands, which marks the start of the festive season. It is quite fitting that these biscuits were the first of my Christmas baking for this year, and I made them on the 3rd of December, so a little early (I was not aware of the origin of the biscuit when I made them). These biscuits are reminiscent of gingerbread, yet a different spice flavour and more crispy.
I have made a few alterations to the original recipe, including replacing rum or brandy with lemon juice and omitting the flaked almonds from on top.
I have ordered a patterned rolling pin, which I was hoping would arrive in time for my Christmas baking, but sadly, no rolling pin yet. So, the kids helped me decide upon the reindeer for these biscuits. The other choices were stars, bells and Christmas trees. I think the reindeer were a good choice.
These biscuits are great with a cuppa and great as a gift. I only cooked half the batch when I made them and froze the rest of the cut out reindeers as I knew we wouldn’t get through that many biscuits in a week or so. It also means that the week before Christmas I can pull the frozen ones out and pop them in the oven so we’ll have fresh biscuits ready for any social events we will have in that week.
- 450g plain flour
- 1 tbs baking powder
- 3/4 tbs ground cinnamon
- 3/4 tbs star anise, ground
- 1/2 tsp white pepper
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 1/2 tsp ground coriander
- 3/4 tsp ground cardamom
- 1/4 tsp grond nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 250g unsalted butter
- 330g brown sugar
- 50ml lemon juice
- Sift the flour, baking powder and spices and salt into a medium bowl and set aside.
- Using a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed for 3-4 minutes until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the lemon juice and beat until combined. Add the dry ingredients and mix until it all comes together. The dough will be quite dry.
- Divide the dough into 2 pieces and wrap in plastic wrap, form into a disc, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or until firm.
- When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 200°C and line a baking tray with baking paper.
- Remove dough from the refrigerator and roll out on a lightly floured surface to about 0.5cm thick. Using a large reindeer cutter (or cutter of your choice), cut out the biscuits and place them on the baking tray. They won’t rise much, but ensure you leave at least 1cm between biscuits. Continue rolling and cutting with remaining dough.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly on the tray before moving to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Store in an airtight container at room temperature for 1 week.