I’m not huge on the whole Christmas season thing, but one thing I do like about it is baking some of the things I remember having as a kid. That’s how holidays work, don’t they? The rest of the year you try not to be like your parents, but when holidays roll around, you find yourself emulating your parents, wanting everything to be like it was when you were a kid. Just me?
One of my very favourite recipes I’ve asked my mom for is the one for Speculaas Cookies. They’re Dutch spice cookies, pronounced “spake-lass”. My grandma always had the store-bought version around when I was a kid, which my brother and I dipped in apple juice. The cookies had pictures of windmills and Dutch people on them, and we called them “Grandma and Grandpa Cookies”. I don’t know why. I’ll have to ask my grandma next time I see her.
2 cups brown sugar
1 1/2 cups butter
3 1/2 cups flour
1 egg beaten
1 tsp baking powder
1 scant tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp ginger
Cream the butter and sugar. Add the remaining ingredients and stir. The mixture will form a very stiff, sort of crumbly dough.
Here is where the original instructions differ from what my mom taught me to do. The original instructions say to shape the dough into a cylinder with a diameter equal to the desired cookie size, and chill it thoroughly in a covered container. Then slice it and place the slices on a cookie sheet. But I’ve never done it that way.
What I was taught, was to press it into an ungreased cookie tray, bake it, and cut it into squares as soon as it gets out of the oven. Because it’s much easier and they taste the exact same. Or better, because they’ve required less effort.
Either way, bake at 350°F for 10 to 12 minutes. Store them in sealed container to retain crispness (or, in my case, softness).
I made up a batch this morning so that I’d have a photo for you, and I may or may not have eaten half a dozen already.