Speculaasbrokken

Brokken Speculaas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The short story is that this is a great winter cookie – not too sweet, nicely spiced, attractive in a very un-fussy sort of way and it stores and packs up (and takes a place in gift baskets) like a dream.

The long story is …Eight years ago I was lucky enough to be travelling with my family through Friesland, a northern province in the Netherlands.  We were travelling by boat and would stop at different towns, tie up for a while, see the sights, hit a couple of bakeries, generally stock up on supplies and motor down to the next town that struck our fancy. We had a wonderful time.  Although we didn’t speak Dutch or Frisian, we made out ok – except for the fact that I never got the name of my favorite baked good.  It was a flat log, several inches wide, about a foot long and maybe one inch or so high.  It was always spiced and sometimes had almonds on top, sometimes not.  We would cut it into slices and have some as a quick breakfast or snack.  Delicious.  And impossible to find once I got home.  I kept an eye out for years.  People suggested speculaas, but none of the recipes I found fit the bill – they were pressed or cut cookies or even cakes, but no flat logs.  Until I found a recipe for “brokken” speculaas.  These fit the bill – they start off as flat logs that you break into pieces and munch on.  Perfect.

Here’s my version – a New York take on a very fond memory.

SPECULAASBROKKEN

  • 3 tablespoons speculaas spices (see note below)
  • 2 cups of all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 pinch fine or table salt
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 8 tablepoons (1 stick or 4 ounces) cold unsalted butter
  • The grated zest of one large orange
  • 4-8 tablespoons of whole milk
  • 1 egg
  • Sliced almonds (optional)
  • Coarse or demerra sugar (optional)

Make The Dough

To make by hand:

  1. Whisk together the flour, spices, baking powder, sugar and salt in a medium bowl.
  2. Cut the butter into small pieces.
  3. Add the butter and the oranges zest to the bowl.
  4. Use a pastry blender or your fingers to cut the cold butter into the flour mixture.  It should generally look kind of sandy with some small pieces of butter.
  5. Add the milk, a tablespoon at a time, to the mixture until you have a stiff dough.  You want it to hold together if you grab a bit of it, but not be sticky.
  6. Knead the dough a few times, then shape it into an oval.  Wrap it up in plastic wrap and refrigerate it over night.

To make with a food processor, using a steel blade:

  1. Add the flour, spices, baking powder, sugar and salt to the processor and pulse a few times to combine.
  2. Cut the butter into pieces, add it to the bowl of the processor along with the orange zest.
  3. Pulse until the mixture looks kind of sandy and has some small pieces of butter.  Be careful  not to mix it too much, you don’t want it to form a ball.
  4. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl.
  5. Add the milk, a tablespoon at a time, to the mixture until you have a stiff dough.  You want it to hold together if you grab a bit of it, but not be sticky.
  6. Knead the dough a few times, then shape it into an oval.  Wrap it up in plastic wrap and refrigerate it over night.

Get Ready To Bake

  1. Place a rack in the center of your oven and preheat it to 350 degrees, F.
  2. The bottom of these cookies can burn easily, so I stack one cookie sheet on top of another to help prevent it.

Shape And Bake The Dough

  1. The dough can be sticky, so I like to shape it on a piece of parchment paper or a silicone mat I can bake it on.  Place it on the parchment paper or mat, put a piece of plastic wrap over it and roll it into an oval log about 1/2 inch high.  It will spread so make sure it’s placed in the center of your paper or mat to give it some room.
  2. Beat the egg, and brush the top of the log with it.
  3. If you’re using the sliced almonds, sprinkle them on top of the log.  Place a sheet of plastic wrap back over the log, and run the roller over it lightly one or two a few times to just press the almonds in a bit.  Remove the plastic wrap.
  4. Sprinkle the coarse sugar over the log.
  5. Place the log, on the parchment paper or mat, onto the stacked cookie sheets.
  6. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes, keeping an eye out so the bottom doesn’t burn.

Breaking Up The Cookies

  1. Remove the cookies from the oven.
  2. Let them cool for a couple of minutes on the cookie sheet.
  3. Take the log, on the paper or mat, off the cookie sheet and let it cool until it’s barely warm.
  4. Break the log into whatever size pieces you like.
  5. Let them cool all the way.

TIP:  I think the flavor improves after it sits for at least a day or two.  Store them in an airtight container or resealable plastic bag.

NOTE:  You can buy speculaas spices already mixed, but I prefer to make my own.  Here’s the version I make up, but feel free to improvise or substitute your own.

SPECULAAS SPICE MIXTURE

  • 3 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
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One Response to Speculaasbrokken

  1. Bethany says:

    That looks delicious! I wish I was your neighbor. I’d stop in unannounced all the time :P