Dutch Christmas Biscuits, more commonly known as Speculaas, are stamped cookies with a very thin sugary glaze. These particular cookies have lots of deep spice flavour and the smell is just heaven!
Here were are with the third cookie in Lord Byron’s 24 Cookies of Christmas Volume 3. We are sticking with a European, old-world, Christmas theme today with my Dutch Christmas Biscuits. If you’re growing tired of the old school Christmas cookie recipes, don’t worry. I’ll change it up tomorrow.
Should you be new here, let me tell you a bit about how this works. This is my third annual Christmas cookie extravaganza. Like the previous two years, I will post a brand new Christmas cookie recipe for 24 consecutive days. Yes, that means Saturdays and Sundays too! For your reference, you can find links to the first two years further down the page.
Fresh off of my 12 Biscotti of Christmas series, I’m excited about this new series. Last year, I also did 12 Bundt Cakes of Christmas. Now, who’s ready to get started on today’s cookie with me? Let me ask you again today. Do you have your flour and sugar ready? Is your spice rack stocked and close by? Is your apron on and your oven preheated? Good! Let’s get to it!
SPECULAAS OR SPECULOOS
Speculaas, sometimes called speculoos, is a type of spiced biscuit, which is traditionally baked for St Nicholas’ day in the Netherlands. They are thin and crunchy, and always have some image or figure stamped into the dough before baking.
Speculaas dough does not rise much. Spices used in speculaas may vary, but the most common are cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, and cardamom. Family recipes may also include small amounts of other spices like anise, etc.
The dough is prepared by beating butter, sugar and spices and combining them. The flour and leavening agent are mixed separately and then added. Be careful not to overwork the dough! The dough is refrigerated for at least 2 hours so that the spices time to permeate and add deep flavor.
COOKIE STAMPS AND ALTERNATIVES
In case you have not heard heard of cookie stamps, let me tell you a bit about them. Basically, they imprint a design onto a cookie and turn it into a lovely work of art!
If you can’t find them in a store, just do a search on Amazon for cookie stamps. You can find them in almost any design or pattern. I have quite the collection of Christmas cookie stamps.
If you don’t have any cookie stamps at home to make these Dutch Christmas Biscuits, you can use the bottom of a drinking glass to push a design into the dough. Most drinking glasses have a design in the bottom. Some wine glasses and goblets do too.
Lately, I’ve been seeing a lot of cookies that have been rolled out using a patterned rolling pin. If you don’t have a cookie stamp, but have one of those rolling pins, it would work well for this cookie too.
HOW TO GET THE PERFECT COOKIE
I have a few tips that I want to share with you on how to get the perfect stamped cookie. I have seen many times a rolled cookie that has that unsightly baked flour residue on it. Who wants to eat that?
Once you have rolled out the dough, be sure to dip the cookie stamp (or your drinking glass) into cocoa powder first. Tap off the excess and stamp the shape into the dough. I would highly recommend using cocoa powder instead of flour to keep the cookies looking clean and deep brown.
Use a pastry brush to lightly brush off the excess cocoa. It’s important to use one with a hair tip rather than a silicone tip. Silicone pastry brushes will leave marks in the rolled dough and will not leave it as clean.
DECORATING DUTCH CHRISTMAS BISCUITS
These cookies are beautiful just the way they are. In fact, if you don’t feel like doing so, you don’t need to add the glaze at all. In my opinion, the glaze not only makes the cookie prettier, but it also helps to offset some of the strong spice flavour. I love the combination of the two.
The glaze needs to be very thin in order for it to fill up the imprint of the shape you have stamped into your cookie. You also want the rest of the cookie slightly glazed. The excess should just run off to the side.
I used a teaspoon to pour the glaze directly into the center of the cookie. Then, I used that same teaspoon to gently push the glaze out to the perimeter of the cookie. It’s quite easy to do and very therapuetic!
You may or may not get a few bubbles in your glaze as it dries. It happens sometimes. It’s not the end of the world and they will still look beautiful.
STORING, PACKAGING, AND FREEZING
If you plan to freeze these cookies, you certainly can! Once they are completely cooled, and the glaze is completely dried and hardened, pile them into a clean, food-safe container. The container must be freezer friendly! You’ll want to ensure a very tight fitting lid too. (I use these quite often when freezing baked goods.) I like to place a sheet of plastic wrap over the top of the container before pushing the lid on. This helps to create a better seal. The goal is to keep all of that cookie freshness locked in!
You can freeze these cookies for up to three months. If you plan to give the frozen cookies as a gift, I would lay them out onto a wire cooling rack to thaw. Pile into cellophane bags and tie with a ribbon, or stack in a cookie tin/box.
As I said, every day I will be posting a new recipe. If you miss one, don’t fret. You can find my entire collection of Christmas Recipes right here! There are over 100 Christmas recipes and counting. There’s something for everyone! Cheers!
If you loved this recipe, here are some others that might interest you as well:
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Dutch Christmas Biscuits
For the Cookies:
- 7 tablespoons butter, softened
- 1/2 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
- 6 tablespoons black treacle (can use molasses instead)
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon all spice
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
For the Glaze:
- 2 cups confectioner's sugar
- 6-8 teaspoons water
- Using a hand-held mixer, beat together the butter, sugar, black treacle, and the egg yolk. Beat until smooth – about 3 minutes. Set aside.
- Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, ginger, cloves, cinnamon, all spice, nutmeg, cardamom, and baking soda.
- Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat until just combined. Knead the dough until all of the loose bits at the bottom of the bowl have been kneaded in.
- Place ball of dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap and press into a large, flat circle. Cover with more plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
- Remove the plastic wrap and roll the dough to 1/4 inch thick between two sheets of parchment paper. Stamp the dough firmly to make a nice indent. Use a round cookie cutter to cut around the stamped shape. Transfer cookie to prepared baking sheet.
- Bake for 15 minutes.
- Remove from oven and allow cookies to cool for 3-5 minutes before transferring to a wire cooling rack to finish cooling.
- Once completely cooled, whisk together the confectioner's sugar and the water until smooth.
- Use a teaspoon to poor the glaze onto the center of a cookie. Spread the glaze out to the edges and allow the excess to drip over the side. Do this to one cookie at a time!
- Allow glaze to set and harden. Enjoy!
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