Over the past few months I have noticed a preoccupation amongst food bloggers for all things speculoos. This trend has washed over me to the extent that, until a couple of weeks ago, I had no idea what speculoos/speculaas actually was.
But then along came Francijn from Koken in de Brouwerij, our January Daring Baker’s host, and challenged us to make speculaas. Or gevulde speculaas to be precise. So I now know that speculaas is a spiced Dutch biscuit. And gevulde speculaas is a spiced biscuit stuffed with almond paste. And as for speculaas vs speculoos? Well Google seems to suggest that they are interchangeable terms for pretty much the same thing.
I’m not going to lie to you. When I first scanned the recipe, I thought that me and speculaas weren’t going to get on. I have recently made known my feelings on the subject of ground cinnamon and, whaddya know? Yup, cinnamon is the key spice in speculaas.
But I am happy to report that my misgivings were misplaced. And now I know why everyone has gone speculaas/loos crazy. Put simply, they are really rather ace.
They are sort of like the best ginger biscuits you have ever tasted. But with a much more complex flavour and lot more warmth. And they are chewy yet crispy and just delicious in all the right places. And they caused me to slip up on one of my 5:2 fast days. I thought I’d try a quarter of a biscuit just to taste. But they were so good that I ate a half and then a whole and then another one to boot. I didn’t work out the calories but I know it wasn’t pretty.
If you haven’t been inducted into the pleasures of speculaas yet, I suggest bookmarking Francijn’s recipe and giving it a go. The following are the adaptations I made to the recipe:
- Because I was honestly expecting to dislike speculaas, I only made half the quantity. (What a mistake-a to make-a!)
- In the interests of frugality, I used some marzipan I had left over from Christmas instead of making my own almond paste. I have since realised that the two are not interchangeable but seeing how much I enjoyed my speculaas, I would probably do the same again. (The marzipan caramelised and went chewy. Yum!)
- Instead of making the speculaas in one large baking tin, I made individual biscuits in a muffin tin. For each biscuit, I cut out two 6cm circles of speculaas dough and sandwiched a 4cm circle of marzipan in between them. Half the quantity of Francijn’s recipe yielded 8 biscuits made in this way.
- I included ALL the spices Francijn mentioned in the recipe in an attempt to negate the cinnamon stuff. It’s probably more by luck than judgement but I LOVE my spice blend and wouldn’t change a thing. These are the quantities I used (this will make more than you need for the recipe): 10g ground cinnamon; 1/2 tsp of both ground cloves and nutmeg; 1/4 tsp each of ground mace, aniseed, cardamom, coriander, white pepper and ginger.