The story goes that Sinterklaas, or St. Nicholas, the patron saint of children, traveled to Spain and returned to the Low Countries on a steamship laden with mandarins, which he offered to all the children. I presume his ship was also laden with spices — ginger, cardamom, nutmeg, cloves, and the key ingredient in these cookies, cinnamon — and that that is how these cookies were born.

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Spiced Speculaas Cookies [Vegan]

Serves

30 - 40

Ingredients

For the Speculaas Spice Mix
  • 8 parts ground cinnamon
  • 2 parts ground nutmeg
  • 2 parts ground cloves
  • 1 part ground ginger
  • 1 part ground cardamom
  • For this recipe, you will need 2 tbsp of Speculaas spice mix; therefore you will need 4 tsp ground cinnamon + 1 tsp ground nutmeg + 1 tsp ground cloves + ½ tsp ground ginger + ½ tsp ground cardamom.
For the Speculaas Cookies
  • 200g (⅞ cup, or ¾ cup + half of ¼ cup) vegan butter
  • 200g (2 scant cups) plain flour + extra
  • 200g (1 + ¼ cup) soft brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp Speculaas spice mix
  • 1 tbsp ground flaxseed
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Preparation

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180° C (356° F). Line two baking trays with baking parchment (cookie sheets).
  2. By hand or with a standing mixer, cream together the vegan butter and soft brown sugar. Add the vanilla paste, ground flaxseed, baking soda, and finally, the plain flour. Mix until the dough starts to look quite uniform.
  3. Lightly flour a clean surface. Turn over the dough onto the floured surface and knead by hand for a few minutes, or until the dough is pliable, smooth and even.
  4. With a rolling pin, roll out the dough to 3-4 mm (0.12 inches) thick. Cut the dough into shapes and place your cookie shapes onto the lined baking trays. Knead the leftover dough strands into a ball, as before, and roll out thinly once again. Cut the cookie shapes; repeat the process until the dough is exhausted.
  5. Bake the cookies for 16-18 minutes, depending on the size of your cookies. Keep a watchful eye on your oven; you don’t want to take out the cookies too soon, or they’ll be chewy, but leave them too long and they will burn to a crisp.
  6. Cool on a wire rack for at least 15 minutes. The cookies should be nice and crisp, and a deep nutty brown color.

Notes

Speculaas cookies are traditionally baked in a carved wooden mold. I do not possess one so I simply cut the dough with a cookie cutter and baked the cookies on baking parchment (a cookie sheet). The result is almost exactly the same. * I learned the original recipe for the spice mix from The Dutch Baker’s Daughter. However, I omitted the white pepper; to me, the cookies still taste exactly as I remember them from my childhood. * The cookies need to be 3 - 4mm thick; in inches, this is 0.12, which I realize is a bizarre number. Suffice to say that these cookies need to be quite thin, though not wafer-thin.



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