Friday, January 4, 2013

Better Late Than Never - Speculaas

I am an extremely stubborn person.  Yes, I know, it's shocking, but it's true.  ;)

I have been wanting to post about making Speculaas for St. Nicholas day (December 6th) ever since I started this blog in August of 2008, but I have never been able to find a speculaasplank that I could afford.  True, they are fantastic works of folk art, but if you don't have the funds, you don't have the funds.  $50.00 for the simplest mold just seems a little excessive to me.  If you start looking at the hand carved antique ones, then add at least an additional $50 but more than likely an additional $100.   So, since I have been denied the proper way to mold and form speculaas, I have steadfastly refused to make them.

Well not anymore!  (WooHoo!)

I found "a find" at an antique store in Gresham that is going to be closing. I bought 2 Speculaasplanks for $5 dollars each. Total bargain!  Granted, these are copies of older molds (meaning they aren't really antiques), but it was still a deal I could not refuse.

I am not going to retell the history of Speculaas and how the name derives from the Latin "speculum" (mirror).  I am not going to go into the Sinter Klaas story or talk about the Festival or any of that sort of stuff.  There are pages and pages of information available all over the internet, so I am going to let you do some research if you want to know all about it.  :)

This post is mainly about mixing the dough and using the planks.   After all, isn't successful execution of Speculaas the most important part?  I though so.

So let's get this show on the road!  These Speculaas are already a month late.   LOL 


 The lovers or admirers (vrijer and vrijster)

2 3/4 cups (13 oz) ( 365g) All-Purpose Flour
1/3 cup (1 oz) (28g) Almond Flour
2 1/2 TB Speculaaskriuden (Speculaas Spice)
1/2 tsp Cocoa powder
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Kosher Salt
6 oz (170g) Unsalted Butter
1 cup (6.5 oz) (185g) Light Muscovado Sugar (or Belgian Soft Candi Sugar - Brune Fonce)
1/3 cup (78ml) Whole Milk

In a bowl, whisk together the AP & Almond Flours, Speculaas Spice, Cocoa Powder, Baking Soda, and Salt; set aside.

In the bowl of your electric mixer, beat the butter until light.

Add the Muscovado Sugar and beat until combined and fluffy.

Scrape the bowl well......

Add half the flour mixture, blending well.

Add milk, blend again.

Add the remaining flour mixture; mix.

You should have a very uniform, but stiff dough when done.

Form into 2 disks and wrap in waxed paper, then in plastic wrap. (Some spices can react with plastic wrap so I use waxed paper to protect the dough and then plastic to keep it sealed)

Chill for at least 2 hours, but preferably over night to allow the spices to hang out and get to know each other.

When you are ready to mold the cookies........
Dust your Speculaasplank with AP Flour, Rice Flour or Cornstarch. (I prefer good old AP flour)

Remove 1 disk of dough and break off a chunk.

Press into the plank.

Slice away the excess dough with a VERY sharp, well floured knife. (it works best if you can do it in 1 continuous stroke. Starting at the bolster of the knife and draw it towards you while slicing off the excess dough)

Invert the mold and give it a small "whack" on the counter to release the cookies.

If they are sticking, you may carefully nudge then free with a small offset spatula (don't use a knife or you risk damaging the plank
Once the cookies are free of the plank, brush away any flour or crumbs left behind (a skewer works well for removing stuck dough crumbs)
Transfer imprinted cookies to parchment lined baking sheets, leaving 2" between cookies.

Re-flour the mold and repeat.
Lightly brush away any excess flour (it doesn't have to be perfect, there will be some flour absorption during baking)

Chill the formed cookies for 1 hour while preheating the oven to 350F (175C) degrees.
Bake until golden brown; 10 minutes for small speculaas and 13-15 minutes for larger ones.

Move to a rack and allow to cool. (if you can)

There, now that wasn't too painful was it?  All in all, once you have done it a couple of times it goes really quick.  Granted, this is not as quick as rolling and cutting, but sometimes tradition is more important.  And let's face it.  These cookies LOOK wicked cool.  Am I right?

Goed Eten!!



DutchBakerGirl said...

Thank you! You have given me the courage to take the Speculaas mold off of my wall and give this another try. :) My original try, using a "new" mold, was an utter and complete failure. I think the mold may have to be seasoned, but I also think I need to cut the baking soda down in the recipe--the detail was gone after I baked them. I've also learned how critical it is to refrigerate the dough again, once it is shaped.

My Speculaas post has catapulted into the most visited post this you think the popularity of Speculoos spread (aka cookie butter or Biscoff Spread) has anything to do with it? Btw, you are right--your cookies do look wicked cool!

Do you have any suggestions on how to clean the mold? I have my Dad's original, and it's in great shape, but it hasn't been used in over 40 years.

Shane T. Wingerd said...

Oh, I absolutely love that stuff! Trader Joe's even sells a Chocolate bar that is filled with Speculoos Butter! YUM-O-RAMA!

Yes, I think that is part of it, cause that spread is sort of "getting the word out". I also think there has been a renaissance in traditional old world baking, especially around Christmas. (Sometimes Chocolate Chip Cookies just don't cut it) LOL

As far as cleaning old molds goes. Hmmmm, that is a good question. These molds aren't very old, so I will admit that when I was done with the molds, I used a toothpick to clean out as much used flour and as many crumbs as possible. Then I ran them under cool water, using a very soft pastry brush to sort of "scrub" them clean, then I dried them immediately and placed them near a heating vent to make sure they dried as quickly as possible.

I did read somewhere that occasionally you have to re-season older molds and new molds by brushing them with oil, letting them sit for a couple hours and then running them under warm water to remove the excess (drying immediately of course) But I would think that seasoning will happen fairly quickly with use because speculaas have a lot of butter in them.

Sorry, I don't know if that is much help.

DutchBakerGirl said...

Thanks--I assumed as much. :) And yes, that speculoos filled candy bar at Trader Joe's is awesome!

Patti T. said...

Dang, I didn't know about the speculoos filled chocolate when I placed my order with my son for Trader Joe's. I love getting the "fearless flyer" so I know or at least have an idea of what to get. I keep getting the speculoos butter, but forget what recipe called for it, and before you know it the "jar" is empty! I love the looks of these cookies Shane. What an exciting find for you to find the speculaasplank at the antique store.
When my son Nicholas lived at home we always celebrated St. Nicholas day. It started when we lived in Germany and first learned about it.
Thanks for sharing all your knowledge with us.