Thin, crunchy and packed with holiday spices, these Speculoos Cookies
definitely deserve a spot on your holiday cookie plate!
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re probably well aware of the cookie butter craze. Biscoff first came up with this idea as a way to use the broken cookies from their factory. Trader Joe’s then came along with their own version, and Pinterest has never been the same since. (Last year, I jumped into the fray and made these Espresso Cookies with Biscoff Buttercream.) But where does this cookie butter come from, you ask? Speculoos cookies. Crumbled up. With spices and a bit of oil, molasses and water. But the key is the speculoos cookies. Speculoos cookies not ringing a bell? What about Biscoff cookies? Yup, same thing. Biscoff is just the brand name, and it seems to be more recognizable here in the States than speculoos.
This past Spring, my wife and I got to travel to Belgium and the Netherlands for vacation. We had the chance to go on a private tour of the main Lotus Bakeries factory, and that was nothing short of awesome! (Lotus makes Biscoff cookies.) Even my wife, who openly states that she is not a baker, counted this as one of the best parts of the entire trip. I suspect it’s because she’s an engineer…and the factory was an engineering marvel. There were conveyor belts of cookies running up, down and all around us the entire time. I kinda wanted to stand at the end of one of the belts with my mouth open. Like a real life cookie monster. Nom nom nom. (We weren’t allowed to take pictures inside the factory, but we did snag this one with our tour guide…who also happened to be the head baker.)
We were definitely spoiled by the desserts in Belgium. There were chocolate stores on nearly every corner, and we may or may not have had a nightly Belgian Waffle from a street vendor near our hotel. And there was speculoos flavored everything! Chocolate bark with speculoos cookies crumbled on top. Speculoos flavored hot chocolate. Just plain old speculoos cookies served alongside a delicious cappuccino. Needless to say, I was inspired to come home and make my own batch of speculoos cookies for the holidays!
Speculoos cookies are traditionally made using a wooden mold. The dough is pressed into the mold and then turned out onto a baking sheet. These molds are straight legit, too. They are often passed down through the family, and the better quality ones are pretty expensive. We picked up an inexpensive mold on our trip…mainly as a keepsake. I did make several cookies using the mold, but the shape didn’t hold as well as I would have liked. You can still see the windmill pattern, but it’s a bit blurred. I suspect it’s due to the quality of our mold, but I definitely want to try it again and refrigerate the dough longer before baking.
I just used a pastry wheel to cut the remaining cookie dough into fun little squares. And since the cookies are smaller, I get to eat more. That logic makes sense, right? (Speculoos cookies are most often seen with molds, but I need to work on expanding my wooden cookie mold collection!) These cookies are spiced with pretty much every holiday spice there is: nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, cardamom. You name it. It’s in there.
I did substitute mace for nutmeg in this version, though. Lindsey over at American Heritage Cooking has been singing the praises of mace for a long time…so I had to give it a shot. I find mace to be a touch spicier than nutmeg and even a little bit peppery. If you don’t have mace, you can certainly use nutmeg instead. Either way, these Speculoos Cookies are somewhat reminiscent of gingerbread cookies…making them a perfect addition to your holiday cookie platter!
Did you make a batch of these Speculoos Cookies at home? Leave a comment, or snap a photo and tag me on Instagram (@Spicedblog). I’d love to see your version!
- ¾ cup unsalted butter room temperature
- 2 cups light brown sugar
- 1 large egg
- ½ Tbsp vanilla extract
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- ½ tsp baking powder
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp cloves
- ½ tsp ginger
- ½ tsp cardamom
- ¼ tsp mace or ½ tsp nutmeg
- ¼ cup milk
- Using a countertop mixer, cream together the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy (2-3 minutes on medium speed).
- Add egg and vanilla; beat until just incorporated.
- In a separate bowl, add the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, cloves, ginger, cardamom and mace. Mix until well blended.
- Add half of the dry ingredients to the mixer bowl; mix on low speed until just incorporated. Repeat with remaining dry ingredients.
- Finally, add the milk and mix until a smooth dough forms.
- Cover dough and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Remove dough from refrigerator and preheat oven to 350°F.
- (If you have speculoos molds) Roll dough roll out to 3/8”-1/2” thick. Either spray tops of molds with non-stick spray or dust molds with flour. Press dough firmly into the molds and cut around edge of mold with a kitchen knife. Carefully remove dough from mold and place on parchment-lined baking sheet. Reroll any scraps and continue until all dough has been used. (Tip: To help maintain the imprinted shape, refrigerate trays of cookies for 30 minutes before baking.)
- (If you have normal cookie cutters) Roll dough roll out to 1/4” thick. Cut dough into desired shapes and transfer cookies onto parchment-lined baking sheets. Reroll any scraps and continue until all dough has been used.
- Bake at 350°F for 8-12 minutes, or until cookies begin to turn slightly brown on the edges.
Looking for more tasty holiday recipes? Check out these other family favorites: