Last week a dear Sonoma friend dropped off a box of cookies she makes every year. They were giant snowflake Speculaas covered in blue and white royal icing, and in the moment, in the midst of my own cookie bake-a-thon, the last thing I wanted in the moment was more cookies. While touched by the gesture, I set them aside and got back to work.
A few hours later, Gerry came home, and when I saw his face light at the sight of these cookies, I knew I had to give them a try. He knew and remembered them from last year, which was pretty telling for a guy who has a lot of sugar products in his life.
It was a classic moment of don’t judge a cookie by its homemade royal icing application because these were standouts. Buttery, crisp, with a hint of cardamom, which, authentic or not, I’ve decided is the secret to my favorite speculaas cookie. I added a quick bourbon glaze, but classic royal icing works, too.
Here is her grandmother’s recipe, handwritten as the best ones are, which she generously shared to spread the sweet love this holiday season.
1 1/2 cups AP flour
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cardamom
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 tablespoons water
Tonewood Maple Sugar, optional
In an electric mixer with paddle attachment, blend combine brown sugar and butter until fluffy and well combined.
Next, in a medium bowl, combine dry ingredients and with mixer on low, slowly add to butter mixture until combined.
At this point, add a little water as needed to help the dough come together. Then wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill at least an hour before rolling.
When ready to bake, preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Next, roll out dough between two sheets of parchment, using a little powdered sugar to prevent sticking, if needed.
Roll dough to ~1/4” thickness and cut into desired shapes before placing on a cookie sheet lined with parchment or a silpat.
Put cookies in oven, then reduce heat to 275 degrees and bake for ~45 minutes until cookies are set. Let cool and sprinkle with a grated maple sugar and a drizzle with my quick bourbon glaze (combine 1 cup confectioners sugar with 1 tablespoon bourbon, add additional water, one tsp at a time, until you reach desired consistency). Enjoy!