This traditional German biscuits are also known as speculaas or speculoos. A funny little name on all accounts ! We used to have packets of rectangular shaped dutch versions, stamped with little folk people as kids - they were very popular in our household.
I was surprised at the simplicity of these - the most difficult part being mastering the old biscuits moulds so that the dough doesn’t stay embedded in the pattern.
I found some nifty cookie stamps which make the job quite a bit easier and create a modern geometric take on the design. I will keep at mastering those moulds though.
My version has the addition of Australian ground wattleseed - giving a layer of texture and a hint of chocolate and coffee to the blend of spices and orange. I of course couldn’t resist adding my all time favourite liquorice salt (from Nordur salt) - I so love this stuff and the packaging is stunning. (and no this is not sponsored I just love their salt).
If you can’t get hold of wattleseed or liquorice salt, these will still be yummy using plain sea salt crystals and omitting the wattleseed. Feel free to add your own twist to the spice blend. Also if you can grind your spices yourself, the flavour will be so much more intense - it’s worth a try if you can do it. If not try to use freshly opened pre ground spices.
(recipe adapted from A la Mere de Famille)
250g unsalted butter (at room temperature)
300g brown sugar
450g plain flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
zest of one orange (finely grated)
1 teaspoon vanilla essence concentrate
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon liquorice salt crystals (or plain salt crystals)
5 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
2 teaspoons ground cardamon
1 teaspoon ground anise
pinch of white pepper
1 teaspoon ground wattleseed
Preheat the oven to 160 degrees celsius, fan forced
Line two baking trays with baking paper
Mix the butter and sugar until just creamed using a stand mixer and paddle attachment, at medium setting.
Add the eggs one at a time until mixed in.
Combine the flour, baking powder, orange zest, vanilla, salt and spices in a bowl and whisk until well combined.
Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix on low until everything is combined and a ball of dough has formed. Be careful not to overmix the dough.
Divide the dough into four pieces, flatten and wrap each piece in cling film or reusable wrap before chilling for at least an hour in the fridge. (I chilled mine overnight and it was fine to use the next day)
Roll the dough out thinly on a floured bench or silicon mat. (to a few mm)
Use a cookie stamp dipped in flour to stamp out shapes. Dip the stamp again if it starts to stick.
Use a round cutter the same size as the stamps to cut the bisuits out neatly.
Place on the baking tray. The cut biscuits are easier to lift off using a bench scraper as they do soften quite quickly. Chill again for 15 minutes in the fridge.
Bake for 15 minutes or until just starting to colour.
If you don’t have cookie stamps, the biscuits can by cut into any shape, or if you are lucky enough to have a traditional mould, press balls of the dough into the prepared moulds as per the instructions, unmould and bake.
An extra note:
I also used these biscuits to make Xmas ice cream sandwiches. Either make your own or buy a good quality vanilla ice cream. Spread the ice cream onto a lined sided tray. Chill until firm, then cut out rounds using the same cutter size and press between two biscuits. Freeze until ready to serve. The spice is just enough to balance well with the ice-cream and it’s perfect to prepare in advance !