Monday, December 07, 2009

Cooking School: Almond and Pink Praline Spekulatius

Almond Pink Praline Speculaas Spekulatius (01) by MeetaK 

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. 

Almond Pink Praline Speculaas Spekulatius (04) by MeetaK

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!

Almond Pink Praline Speculaas Spekulatius (03) by MeetaK

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

Ingredients

Spekulatius Dough
125 butter, softened
125g sugar
1 egg
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

Topping
1 egg yolk
50g almond slices
50g pink almond praline, coarsely chopped

Method

  1. Put all of the spekulatius dough ingredients into a bowl and with your hands knead into a smooth dough.

  2. Divide the dough into two pieces, form into balls then cover with some plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.

  3. Preheat the oven to 210 degrees C.

  4. 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.

  5. Using cookie cutters, cut out the spukulatius and place on a baking tray lined with some baking paper.

  6. 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.

  7. 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:

- Almonds
- Cloves
- Cardamom
- Ginger
- Cinnamon

 

 


Verdict

Almond Pink Praline Speculaas Spekulatius (02) by MeetaK

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



Don’t forget you still have all this week to get your soups on! My guest hostess Harini is looking for your warming and comforting soups this month!

Deadline December 14th!

 

 

You might like these Christmas cookies from WFLH:

Vanilla Kipferl Marzipan Almond Kipferl Zimtsterne - Cinnamon Stars

 


All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2009 Meeta Khurana unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First

44 comments :

  1. I have tasted this biscuit only once before when a Dutch lady gave me some cookies and a recipe for spekulaas bread pudding with the instruction: "make it please!" The bread and butter pudding was divine and I think it was the spicy cookies that were really the true stars.....

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  2. The almond speckled ones are just so pretty!

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  3. Speculous we have them with bread in the morning and now they also have a speculous paste for bread which i love too. The cookies look beautiful, i love the addition of the flakes on top.
    Good luck to Tom.

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  4. I can so picture you and Soeren "testing" the warm speculoos :-D Cutest image *ever*.

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  5. That looks gorgeous!I've never had a speculatius, but am sure it must be delicious.

    I am still preserving my precious bag of pralines from Pam; will have to make something with it soon :-)

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  6. Nice reading this, I still kind of can't get over the FBC weekend, it was too great! I'm envious of your props! :) Where did you get that slice of log? Your spekulatius look yummy, I should bake them to get feel more Christmassy.

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  7. Mmmm, these look delicious, and so gorgeous! I love your photos. :)

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  8. As usual Meeta, your cookies look divine! It seems that you and Soeren are right int the Xmas Spirit! (testing the cookies is the best part about making them!).

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  9. What exquisite cookies! They look lovely and so promising!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  10. Wow Meeta those look scrumptious! As you know, spekulatius are my favourite biscuits ever (thanks so much for the pack you gave me!). I'm making mine this week - such a great idea to use Pam's candied almonds on them. And like Sarka, I'm SO jealous of that piece of log. I need more props! =) xxx

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  11. Lovely biccies and using a tree trunk as a PROP?! Well I never!!

    Can't wait to hear details about FBC10. Happy to help too.

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  12. I love the piece of wood you've displayed the cookies on..its so charmingly rustic. I wish I could find something like that over here..instead of the usual mass produced stuff I find over here.

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  13. These sounds so intriguing and divine. I hope to make them but how to convert measurements is always daunting to me for some reason. Do you have any advice? Scale? Really? Some web converter program?

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  14. The color of pink praline is very pretty..

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  15. Hmmm those cookies look delicious. So many cookies, so little time, hehe.

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  16. The pictures are wonderful... so full of joy and good humor... and the cookies taste as good as they look?

    great post!

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  17. so good !! pretty and of course beautifully captured. :))

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  18. So pretty Meeta, I wish I could have a couple with my (now cold...opps, distracted again!) cup of tea right now.. yum!

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  19. thank you everyone. glad you like these spiced cookie treats!

    Nina - they really are wonderful. simple yet full of flavor. i need the recipe for that speculaas bread pudding now!

    Happy - speculoos paste? oh i want some!

    Claire - and testing again and again!

    Sunita - will have to get you some!

    Sari - HAHA! I was telling Hilda the story about that yesterday. It was in the summer when a few people were chopping down an old tree at work and I went out and told them if they would saw off a slice for me! And they did - and I had a new prop!

    Sara - thanks so much!

    Peter - you got it! nothing tastes better than a few tester cookies!

    Mowie - sweets I know you love them and actually the PINK praline ones are for you!! Props are everywhere you just need to look at them as if they were props!

    Sarah - hahaha! told you that i look at everything as a potential prop!

    Chaitali - if you have trees where you live ;-) then you can get yourself a piece!

    Cathy - on my links page (on the menu bar) you'll find a few helpful conversion websites that I use all the time. Gourmet Sleuth and Convert me. Hope it helps!

    Ben - tell me about it!

    Bron - how about this? I make you a cup of hot tea and some of these cookies all you need to do is get here - eh?

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  20. Wow these spekulatius look incredibly delish. Love the addition of the pink praline- and love that log.

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  21. The pink topped ones are extra cute! And the angel is just divine :) Been thinking about these cookies since I saw them in a mag a couple of days ago, now here on your blog again...how can I not give them a go?!

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  22. Oooh keeping fingers crossed for Tom. And these cookies are not only so pretty but they look so delicious, light and flakey. Gorgeous as usual. Love the different toppings, too. This is also a to-do and to-keep recipe!

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  23. Oooh keeping fingers crossed for Tom. And these cookies are not only so pretty but they look so delicious, light and flakey. Gorgeous as usual. Love the different toppings, too. This is also a to-do and to-keep recipe!

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  24. yumm!!! :)) the recipe reads like shortbread cookies aside from the spices.. are they similar?

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  25. Look so good and festive!!! Ready for Christmas!!

    Pei-Lin

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  26. These look absolutely delicious. I love the spices in them - spiced cookies with cardamom and cloves are among my favorites.

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  27. Excellent post!!! Glad to see you are now in the holiday spirit!! You are so filled with wisdom. Love the heaps of information you provide your readers about ingredients etc....great photos too!
    I wish I had the budget, time & lived closer to you guys. The FBC in London looked amazing!!

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  28. I have heard of these cookies but have never tried them...they sound just wonderful and perfect for Christmas!

    Good luck to Tom on his defense!

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  29. You make everything look sooooo pretty! I made the speculaas last year and loved it. Loved the pink ;-)

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  30. I've never had spekulatius before, but your description of it makes me suspect that I'll really like it! I like the almond flakes on top, makes it look a lot more interesting. :)

    Great photos as well!

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  31. These are wonderful, Meeta! :-) Just looking at them gives me a glowy feeling from memories of my Danish grandmothers baking :-)

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  32. How festive & how beautiful Meeta!! The Richter scale is forever twitching here too. Love the festivities that have hit WFLH!! Good luck for the 11th! xoxo

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  33. I'm intrigued by the promise of their crispiness! And of course they look lovely and I love anything spicy :)

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  34. Oh Meeta, these look delicious. All the flavours of Christmas in one bite! :)

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  35. I've never heard of these cookies, but they look totally amazing!!

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  36. Fantastic. This weekend past, we celebrated Sinterklaas and my plan to make speculaas...never came to being. Glad you made up for it, what with the delightful pink toppings...

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  37. Those look awesome and I love the styling of them with the angels.

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  38. I'm just discovering Speculaas. Never tasted it before. They are 'magnifique' and delicious looking. :)

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  39. MMMMM,..Meeta! Your speculaas looks wonderful!! Just so lovely!!

    Recently, I also made my own speculaas. If you like, you can find it on my site!

    Lovely & I so love your topping!

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  40. Thank you for introducing me to these cookies! They look fabulous, I'm going to try them soon!

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  41. Yup, Speculaas really is delicious.
    And @Happy Cook: the speculoospaste is really addictive!

    You know what we Dutch also do with speculaas? We buy icecream (plain, or vanilla), we eat about a quarter or one half, wait for the icecream to be a little soft and then stirr in crumbled speculaas ;)

    Or put this: http://www.dutchtaste.com/images/bb070.jpg on top of our chocolate milk with cream.

    love

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  42. I just found your blog...beautiful!!!!
    Great photos. What lens do you use to photograph these amazing images. I made a cinnamon crisp cookie this year. I'm going to try your recipe and compare.
    Again, great blog!

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Thank you for visiting What's For Lunch, Honey? and taking time to browse through my recipes, listen to my ramblings and enjoy my photographs. I appreciate all your comments, feedback and input. I will answer your questions to my best knowledge and respond to your comments as soon as possible.

In the meantime I hope you enjoy your stay here and that I was able to make this an experience for your senses.

Hugs
Meeta