I have recently discovered the joy of speculoos cookies (and speculoos spread – yum), thanks to Candy. So when I was browsing a copy of Bouchon Bakery and spied the recipe, I immediately wanted to try my hand at making my own speculoos. The recipe is fairly simple, comprised mainly of butter, sugars, and flours. Spices and salt make up the rest. All of the ingredients are easy to find and should be in your pantry, save for the call of having three kinds of flour: white, cake, and whole wheat.
While my honey wasn’t clover and my butter was salted, I had everything I needed on hand. Yes, even all the flours. I made this for the Witches’ Hats that I posted yesterday. I find the taste of these cookies not like the Lotus or Biscoff speculoos – this recipe has a softer snap and more subtle flavour. With the use of the whole wheat flour, the texture is a little more like a graham.
Below is excerpted from Bouchon Bakery by Thomas Keller and Sebastien Rouxel (Artisan Books) with permission from the publisher. Copyright © 2012. My annotations are in blue.
This delicious, simple spice cookie is a specialty of the Netherlands and Belgium. Because of its high butter content, the dough needs to be well chilled before you roll it out and then, if necessary, chilled again before you cut out the cookies. We sprinkle the baked cookies with powdered sugar, but feel free to dust them with crystal or turbinado sugar before baking, for a sugary topping, or ice and decorate them if you like. This is the dough we use to create our Witches’ Hats.
- 3/4 cup (104 grams) All-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup + 1 1/2 tablespoons (74 grams) Cake flour
- 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons (74 grams) Whole wheat flour
- 1/4 teaspoon (1.3 grams) Baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon (1.3 grams) Ground cinnamon
- 3/8 teaspoon (1.3 grams) Kosher salt
- 1/3 cup (74 grams) Dark brown sugar, lightly packed
- 1/4 cup + 2 1/4 teaspoons (59 grams) Granulated sugar
- 1 1/8 teaspoons (8 grams) Clover honey
- 6.2 ounces (177 grams) Unsalted butter, at room temperature
- Powdered sugar for dusting
Notes: You’ll need a 4-to-5-inch decorative cookie cutter.
Place the all-purpose flour in a medium bowl and sift in the cake and whole wheat flours. The whole wheat flour left a lot of large flakes in my sifter. I opted to leave them out, but I imagine leaving them in wouldn’t be an issue. I was just trying to follow the recipe as closely as I could. Break up any lumps of flour remaining in the sieve and add them to the bowl. Sift in the baking soda and cinnamon. Add the salt and whisk together.
Combine both sugars in a small bowl and whisk to break up any lumps. Using a fork, stir in the honey. I had to stir this quite a bit to make it homogenous. I don’t know if that matters.
Place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Turn to medium-low speed and cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugar mixture and mix for about 2 minutes, until fluffy. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.
Add the dry ingredients in 2 additions, mixing on low speed for 15 to 30 seconds after each, or until just combined. Scrape the bottom of the bowl to incorporate any dry ingredients that have settled there.
Mound the dough on the work surface and, using the heel of your hand or a pastry scraper, push it together into a 4-by-6-inch block. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or, preferably, overnight. I’m not sure why a brick. The next time I do this, I’m going to roll it out in a sheet and THEN leave it in the fridge overnight. It takes more space, but you don’t spend 10 minutes venting your anger on a solid block of butter and flour the next day.
Position the racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F (standard). Line two sheet pans with Silpats or parchment paper.
Unwrap the dough and place it between two pieces of parchment paper or plastic wrap. With a rolling pin, pound the top of the dough, working from left to right, to begin to flatten it, then turn the dough 90 degrees and repeat. (This will help prevent the dough from cracking as it is rolled.) WHAM WHAM WHAM. Roll out to just under 1/8 inch thick. If the dough has softened, slide it (in the parchment) onto the back of a sheet pan and refrigerate until firm enough to cut into cookies. See? If I have to dump it back in the fridge, meh. Also, I had issues rolling to just under 1/8″ thick. Takes a while.
Using the decorative cutter, cut out the cookies and arrange them on the prepared sheet pans, leaving about I inch between them. If necessary, push the trimmings together, refrigerate until firm, and reroll for a total of 8 cookies. If the dough softens, return it to the refrigerator until the cookies are firm enough to transfer to the sheet pans. (The dough can be shaped in advance). These must be 8 really HUGE cookies, despite the 4-5″ cutter noted above. I got something like 3 dozen 2″ rounds.
Bake the cookies until golden brown, 13 to 15 minutes, reversing the positions of the pans halfway through baking. Set the pans on a cooling rack and cool for 5 to 10 minutes, then transfer the cookies to the rack to cool completely.
The cookies can be stored in a covered container for up to 3 days.
Just before serving, sift powdered sugar over the cookies.
Excerpted from Bouchon Bakery by Thomas Keller and Sebastien Rouxel (Artisan Books) with permission from the publisher. Copyright © 2012.