Recipe in Honor of a Saint

December 5, 2013

Statue of St. Nicholas in Bourcq, France.

Statue of St. Nicholas in Bourcq, France.

The veneration of the 4th century Saint and bishop, Nicholas of Myra (also “of Bari,” the resting place of most of his relics), is widespread in both the Christian East and West. In Russia it seems that only the Blessed Virgin Mary is more popular.

Speculaas, Spekulatius or Dutch Windmill cookies pictured with their molds. Traditionally speculaas are made by pressing the dough into a mold before baking in the oven. Traditionally speculaas are made by pressing the dough into a mold before baking in the oven. Traditionally speculaas are made by pressing the dough into a mold before baking in the oven. Traditionally speculaas are made by pressing the dough into a mold before baking in the oven.

Speculaas, Spekulatius or Dutch Windmill cookies pictured with their molds. Traditionally speculaas are made by pressing the dough into a mold before baking in the oven. Photo by oldworldcookies.

Few historical records on him survived the harsh test of time, but the numerous miracles attributed to his heavenly intercession, have endeared him to so many that he has become a patron saint for sailors, children, brides, bakers, and fishermen.

An imprint on the cookie dough from a wedding-carriage mold. Photo by AndreasBauerle

An imprint on the cookie dough from a wedding-carriage mold. Photo by AndreasBauerle

In past centuries, a tradition formed in Belgium, Holland, and Northern France to bake a special shortcrust biscuit in his honor, for his December 6 feast day. In Germany they are baked for Christmas.

Speculaas

These biscuits–called spéculoos by the French, speculaas by the Dutch, and speculatius by Germans–are thin and crunchy, are slightly browned, and are molded before baking in the image of Saint Nicholas or some figure drawn from the many legends about him. The back of the biscuit is always flat.

Speculoos biscuits are a favorite for childrens’ Christmas stockings.

The Feast of St. Nicholas by Jan Steen

 

Speculaas Cookie Recipe

Makes about 60 cookies, depending on the size you cut them.

1 3/4 Cup all-purpose flour

1 tsp Baking Powder

2 ½ tsps ground Cinnamon

¾ tsp ground Ginger

¾ tsp ground Nutmeg

½ tsp ground Cloves

¼ tsp Salt

1 ½ tsp Vanilla Extract

½ Cup Butter (1 stick), room temperature

¾ Cup firmly packed light Brown Sugar

1 large Egg

 

Garnish:

sliced or shaved almonds

white granulated sugar

Directions:

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, almond flour, baking powder, spices, and salt.

In a separate bowl, combine the first seven ingredients together, blending them together. Put this flour mixture to the side.

Whip the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla.  Add the flour mixture and mix until mixture comes together. 

 Dough

If you are using a mold or plan on using a springerle rolling pin (a rolling pin with a pattern carved into it), then flatten the dough into a round, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate dough overnight. If you are in a rush, you can refrigerate the dough for an hour. They taste the best when you refrigerate it overnight.

 

If you plan on using cookie cutters or just make them round, roll the dough into (about) a 12” long log and about 1 ½” to 2” round and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate as time permits.

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After refrigeration:

Preheat the oven to 350° and place the rack in the middle of the oven.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or lightly grease pans.

Springerle rolling pin

Springerle rolling pin

For Molds:

Remove the chilled dough from the refrigerator and unwrap. Roll the dough out until ½ to ¾ inch thick. Generously dust the springerle pin with flour then roll over the dough, pressing firmly. The cookie dough will have the imprint. Cut the dough along the springerle grid lines with a sharp knife, use a spatula to help gently remove the cut cookies, placing them on a plate. Lightly sprinkle each cookie with (white granulated) sugar and then place on the baking sheet. If using a traditional speculaas cookie mold, roll the dough until ½ thick with a plain rolling pin. Lightly spray the mold with cooking oil, then liberally dust with all purpose flour (knocking out any loose flour once you’ve dusted it). Press the dough into the mold, remove excess dough of the back of the mold and then carefully unmold it onto the baking sheet. (Sprinkle with sugar.)

dough

For the Cookie Cutters:

Remove the chilled dough from the refrigerator and unwrap. Roll the dough out until ½ to ¾ inch thick. Cut out the cookies using the cookie cutters, gently remove the cut cookies and placing them on a plate. Lightly sprinkle each cookie with (white granulated) sugar and then place on the baking sheet. and then carefully unmold it onto the baking sheet.

 Cookie cutter dough

For Rounds:

Remove the chilled dough from the refrigerator and unwrap. Cut the log into half and cut ½ to ¾ inch thick (for each cookie) and flatten each round with your thumbs. The thinner you flatten it the crisper it gets and it tastes better leaving the dough slightly thick. You can take a slightly smaller cookie cutter and impress the cookie shape in the center of each cookie or leave them as is. Lightly sprinkle each cookie with (white granulated) sugar. Garnish with a sliced or shaved almond if desired.

Speculaas

Whichever way you cut out the cookies, space the cut cookies on baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake for about 10 – 12 minutes, or until lightly browned around the edges. Do Not Bake too Long! They harden as they cool. Remove from oven and transfer to a wire rack immediately to cool completely. Store or freeze as soon as it cools.

Copyright 2013 – Nobility.org

 

 

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