Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies [Speculoos]

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Value Village. The grocery store. The market. Even the Glebe.

I went everywhere looking for a 4 to 5-inch snowflake cutter.

Even online, nothing matched the image of utter Thomas Keller perfection I had in mind.

And so here are pretty speculoos wreaths instead, just right for trimming your table.

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Speculoos is a Dutch cookie with a lovely caramelized flavour and a short, biscuit-like texture.

Sweet spices and honey form the flavour base. Think cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, green cardamom and white pepper.

Speculoos dough is challenging to work with. It cracks easily. It’s hard to lift. It’s rock hard when chilled, but very mushy and sticky as it warms.

Allowing the dough to rest in the fridge overnight makes handling a bit easier.

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Speculoos
*from Bouchon Bakery by Thomas Keller and Sebastien Rouxel

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
4-to-5-inch decorative cookie cutter

Sift the flours. Do not discard bran from whole wheat flour. Sift in the baking soda and cinnamon. Add the salt and whisk together for 30 seconds.

Combine both sugars in a small bowl and break up any lumps. Using your hand, mix in the honey until well-combined.

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 until fluffy. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.

Add the dry ingredients in two 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. 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 two hours, or, preferably, overnight.

Position the racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat the oven to 325F. Line two sheet pans with parchment. 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. 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.

Cut out the cookies and arrange on prepared sheet 1 inch apart. Bake 13 to 15 minutes. Reverse the positions of the pans halfway through baking. Cool on sheet on rack 5 to 10 minutes, then transfer cookies to rack to cool completely.

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8 thoughts on “Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies [Speculoos]

  1. I love the idea of all those spices, though I’m a little daunted when someone like you says something’s tricky! Maybe I’d better wait till next Christmas, when I’m back in Australia, and I’ll have the exact ingredients, and it won’t be quit so hot in the kitchen. 🙂

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