Speculaas Cookies or Spicy Sinterklass Cakes
"This traditional Dutch cookie recipe came with a mold I got 20 years ago. Speculaas is a corruption of the Latin speculum (mirror). The dough is pressed into carved molds that can be used for wall decorations. When turned out onto the cookie sheet, the picture appears as its mirror image, hence the name. In the Sinterklass season they are available in 2/3 cookie size to huge thick men and women up to 1 pound known as lovers. If molds are not available, roll dough to desired thickness and use gingerbread man cutter or other cutter shapes. They are great to make ahead around Christmas because they last a long time."
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 2/3 cup dark brown sugar
- 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons chopped slivered almonds
- 2 tablespoons chopped candied citron
- 2/3 cup butter
- 1/2 cup slivered almonds
In a large bowl, dissolve the brown sugar in milk. Combine the flour, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, baking powder and salt. Stir the dry ingredients into the sugar and milk. Mix in 2 tablespoons of almonds and candied citron. Cut in the butter until it starts to form a dough, then knead on a lightly floured surface until smooth. Cover dough and chill for about 1 hour for easier handling.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Dust a wooden speculaas mold lightly with cornstarch. Firmly press the dough into the mold. Run a knife around the edges to trim off excess dough. Gently lift dough out of the mold or tap out onto a cookie sheet. Press remaining almond slivers into cookies to match the designs.
Bake for 15 minutes in the preheated oven, just until the edges begin to darken. If your cookies are more than 1/2 inch thick, bake at 300 degrees F (150 degrees C) for up to 30 minutes. Cool cookies on wire racks to crisp. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a month. The flavor will get better with age.