Coming down from the high of the Food Blogger Connect in London last weekend has been hard. It came and went so fast flashing past in an evanescent moment that all I have left are smiling, laughing pictures branded in my memory forever.
My emotional Richter scale has been all over the place creating seismic waves of highs and lows. Incredible how three days can have such an impact and touch so many lives so deeply.
The week was spent in a haze of hanging on to the thrilling London sensations, playing catch up with my current life and planning not only the Food Blogger Connect 2010 with the incredible team but also one of the most important milestones in our family life – Tom’s defense.
It really is here! This is the kind of milestone where one can look back and really see the hard work, effort and finally all that he and we as a family have achieved. It’s been a roller coaster ride for us but now the end is within grasp.
While Tom spent most of the weekend at the university filing on his presentation for the big day on Friday, Soeren and I really got into the Christmas spirit. I admit I was not feeling very Christmassy, but Soeren’s virtuous excitement was contagious. So, we put on Christmas carols, brought out the decorations and baked sweet and spiced cookies most of the weekend.
It left the house smelling of cinnamon, cloves, ginger, oranges and quince! Umm – who needs incense when one has a kitchen working overtime!
Spekulatius / Speculaas
For this session of Cooking School I thought I would tell you a little bit about my favorite Christmas time biscuits. Spekulatius in German, Speculaas in Dutch or Spéculoos in French, are deliciously crispy shortcrust biscuits, typically served during the Christmas festivities. Spekulatius come in several varieties, such as butter or almond and its typical taste comes from its specific mix of spices, which consists of cloves, cardamom, mace, allspice and vanilla. Most significantly however, spekulatius have images or figures, from the traditional stories about St. Nicholas, imprinted on the front side before baking. It’s an absolute must on my Christmas cookie tray!
My simple version of Spekulatius wraps mellow aromas of clove with the sweet heat of cinnamon and the gentle glow of cardamom and ginger into a deliciously buttery dough, which is sprinkled with sliced almonds and for a bit of fun some crushed pink praline, a special gift I brought along from London. Thanks Pam!
Almond and Pink Praline Spekulatius
Printable version of recipe here
125 butter, softened
zest of 1 lemon, preferably organic
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground clove
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
50g ground almonds
2-3 drops bitter almond extract
pinch of salt
250g all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 egg yolk
50g almond slices
50g pink almond praline, coarsely chopped
- Put all of the spekulatius dough ingredients into a bowl and with your hands knead into a smooth dough.
- Divide the dough into two pieces, form into balls then cover with some plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 210 degrees C.
- Take out one of the dough balls and place between two piece of plastic wrap. With a rolling pin roll the dough out into a thin rectangle.
- Using cookie cutters, cut out the spukulatius and place on a baking tray lined with some baking paper.
- For the topping lightly beat the egg yolk with about 1 tablespoon water. Brush the cookies with the egg wash and sprinkle either the sliced almonds or the pink praline, gently pressing them into the dough.
- Bake in the oven for approx. 8-10 minutes or until lightly golden. Transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool.
Food Guide Tips:
You’ll find everything you need to know about the ingredients below in my food guide section:
Soeren & I had a grand ball making these. We both love our spekulatius each Christmas. Besides munching on the dough, both of us relax in the soothing fragrance of spices as they begin to escape from the oven and linger thickly in the air. Then finally as they come out of the oven we cannot wait for them to cool, blowing ever so lightly on one. Finally as the tester cookie is savored, still warm at the core, we are purely satisfied and reach out for the next tester cookie!
Monthly Mingle Reminder
Deadline December 14th!
You might like these Christmas cookies from WFLH:
|Vanilla Kipferl||Marzipan Almond Kipferl||Zimtsterne - Cinnamon Stars|
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