I really love Christmas, have I mentioned that?
Part of what I love is the side of me that becomes possessed by Martha Stewart. The bit that becomes obsessed with the unattainable ideals of Christmas that are presented to us via Christmas 24.
I imagine a Christmas with snow lying deep and crisp and even outside my gorgeous lodge type house.
I plan for house guests to entertain in front of the great, roaring fire.
Maybe even a singsong of carols around the piano.
Obviously none of this happens.
It never snows, our house is a ‘new build’ Lego type thing.
We don’t have an open fire. Or a piano.
Or guests for that matter.
Every year I like to make and bake lots of festive things.
I’ll make spiced red cabbage, gingerbread houses, Christmas cake, mince pies, chocolate bark, eggnog and Christmas biscuits.
Rory has asked me more than once why I do it all, I always say
“So we have lots of lovely things to offer when people visit”
He then points out, correctly, that no one ever visits!
ALL THE MORE FOR ME THEN!
This year I decided to try the Dutch classic, Speculaas (or Speculoos).
A spiced biscuit traditionally served on Saint Nicholas Day (December 5th) which is the main gift giving day of the festive season fact fans.
To the not very festive amongst you, it’s a bit like the biscuit you get with a cup of coffee in a fancy caff.
The speculaas are pretty simple to make, just have to remember to make the dough in advance as it needs to chill overnight. I use a silicon mould to make mine which means I can only bake six at a time but the mould can be put in the oven.
You can actually buy the traditional wooden moulds. They are beautiful but pretty expensive and you can’t put them in the oven so it’s a bit of a faff.
Speculaas Recipe Ingredients
100g softened butter
150g soft, light brown sugar
1 medium egg
Zest of 1 lemon (unwaxed)
200g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp ground white pepper
2 cardamom pods, peeled and seeds ground.
50g ground almonds
30g flaked almonds
Speculaas Recipe Instructions
Beat the sugar and butter in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Add the remaining ingredients (minus the flaked almonds) and bring together in a dough, Wrap the dough in cling film and chill over night.
Preheat the oven to 160°C/140°C fan assisted/Gas mark 3.
If you’re using a mould to make your Speculaas, dust with a little flour, otherwise line a baking tray with grease proof paper.
Press a small piece of dough into each mould section the sprinkle flaked almonds on the back.
If you’re not using a mould, roll the dough to no more than 5mm thick, the thinner the better. Cut with biscuit cutters and press flaked almonds into them.
Bake for 12-15 mins, leave to cool for 5 mins then transfer to a wire cooling rack.
When stored in an airtight container, the speculaas will stay fresh for a good few weeks!
Steenbergs Organic kindly sent me some Christmas Tisane and a jar of Speculaas spice blend to try. I replaced the individual spices in the recipe with 3 big teaspoons of the spice blend and they are bloody good.
We enjoyed the biscuits with a cup of Christmas Tisane, a caffeine free hot drink, like a herbal tea. The blend of redbush with festive flavours including orange, ginger, cinnamon, cloves and rosehip complimented the Speculaas beautifully.
These may be my new favourite festive flavours, the tisane also makes a nice change from coffee too.
Just on occasion mind you!
The Speculoos spice blend and tisane were provided by Steenbergs for purpose of review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. The post contains an affiliate link to Amazon, if you click it and buy anything I might get 1p. Diclosure is available here.