Flemish spice cookies similar to the American gingerbread cookie.
Speculoos are probably the oldest cookies Belgians have in their repitoire. Speculoos are spice cookies traditionally eaten in Belgium during the Yule season. They are said to go back to pre-Christian time, when they were small animal cakes in the shapes of animals or humans, that were offered to the gods.
Today, Speculoos are available in a simple form throughout the year, but in the Sinterklaas season, bakers make the cookies in wooden molds of the Saint and his helpers. “Speculoos” are from the Latin “specula,” meaning mirror.
There are many recipes in Belgium for these cookies and one can even buy a prepared spice mixture of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves, called koekkruiden which gives this cookie its particular flavor.
Servings: Makes 4 dozen.
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups (packed) dark brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 large egg
2 ounces good-quality white chocolate (such as Lindt or Baker’s), melted
Red colored sugar
Combine first 6 ingredients in medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat brown sugar and butter in large bowl until light. Add egg and beat until fluffy. Gradually add dry ingredients and beat just until combined. Divide dough in half. Flatten each half into rectangle. Wrap with plastic; chill
Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly butter 2 large baking sheets. Roll out
1 dough piece on lightly floured work surface to 13 x 9-inch rectangle. Trim edges to form 12×8-inch rectangle. Cut into 24 4×1-inch rectangles. Lightly press miniature cookie cutter into each rectangle to make imprints (do not cut through dough). Arrange cookies on prepared baking sheets, spacing 1 inch apart. Bake until edges begin to darken, about 8 minutes. Transfer cookies to rack and cool. Repeat with remaining dough piece.
Working with 1 cookie at a time, brush imprints with melted white chocolate. Sprinkle colored sugar generously over chocolate. Let stand until chocolate sets, about 2 hours. Shake off excess colored sugar. (Can be made ahead. Store in airtight container at room temperature up to
1 week, or freeze up to 1 month.)