Speculaas (sometimes spelled Speculoos) Cookies, otherwise known as Dutch Windmill Cookies or Biscoff Cookies

by Irvin on December 3, 2012 · 59 comments

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Want to bake your own Biscoff cookies? Also known as Speculaas, Speculoos or Dutch Windmill Cookies, this easy recipe is perfect for the holidays!

Speculoos Recipe by Irvin Lin of Eat the Love | www.eatthelove.com

Back in 1989, when I was still a sophomore in high school and secretly listening to Debbie Gibson’s Electric Youth (though I told everyone that I was listening to New Order’s Technique) my parents dropped a bombshell on me. We were moving to The Netherlands for a year. My dad’s a science professor and he was taking a sabbatical year to do research in a different city. The last time this happened was a move to Chicago when I was in second grade and couldn’t verbalize my protests other than a temper tantrum or two. But as a sullen teenage, albeit one that listened to bubblegum pop, I was significantly more vocal about my displeasure of the move. However I didn’t have much choice in the matter and went kicking and dragging to the land of windmills, tulips and wooden shoes. Thankfully it worked out in the end and I fell in love with the country, the people (a few I’m still friends to this day), and yes the food, including the crisp spicy cookies called speculaas (sometimes spelled speculoos) that were traditionally served during the holiday season. Here in the U.S. they are often sold under the brand name Biscoff cookies, or as Dutch windmill cookies, but in my heart I’ll always call them speculaas. (Jump directly to the recipe.)

Speculoos Recipe by Irvin Lin of Eat the Love | www.eatthelove.com

In truth, I never really thought about making speculaas cookies for myself, until my friend Caitlin over at Cooking with Caitlin contacted me and said she was teaming up with Kroger for their iPad Holiday Around the World issue of their MyMagazine app. She asked if I wanted to contribute a recipe and I immediately knew I wanted to make speculaas cookies for the app. I’m joined with some other fantastic food bloggers, including Isabel From Family Foodie, Kris from Young Married Chic, Maggy from Three Many Cooks, Aran of Cannelle Vanille, and Coryanne from Kitchen Living with Coryanne who all created recipes inspired from different parts of the world, including Basque country, Africa and Portugal.

Speculoos Recipe by Irvin Lin of Eat the Love | www.eatthelove.com

Making speculaas is super easy. Similar to American gingersnap cookies, the Dutch spice cookie is traditionally served over the holidays, specifically to celebrate St. Nicholas Eve, which is December 5th, though the cookies are sold year round. With the rise in popularity of Biscoff cookies, Biscoff Cookie Spread and all the various knockoffs (I believe even Trader Joe’s sells a cookie spread version) I’m surprised that I don’t see people baking speculaas cookies more; maybe because it’s so easy to buy the store bought ones.

Speculoos Recipe by Irvin Lin of Eat the Love | www.eatthelove.com

Either way, I’m pretty thrilled to have an excuse to walk down memory lane by baking these cookies. I haven’t actually made it back to The Netherlands since I lived there over 20 years ago, but it’s nice to know that I can revisit my past by just baking these cookies. And even if you’ve never been to Holland, the minute they started to bake, your whole house will start to smell like Christmas. That alone is worth the effort.

Speculoos Recipe by Irvin Lin of Eat the Love | www.eatthelove.com

You can download the Kroger MyMagazine app for the iPad for free at the Kroger website, or view the online PDF edition if you don’t own an iPad. Special thanks to Kroger and Caitlin for including me in this edition of the magazine.

And if you happen to live in the San Francisco Bay Area, feel free to stop by 18 Reasons Annual Holiday Cookie Swap on Saturday December 8th, from 2-4pm. I’ll be there, co-hosting with my partner-in-crime Melanie and the 18 Reasons staff. All are welcome, with or without cookies!

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{ 59 comments… read them below or add one }

Erika December 3, 2012 at 6:44 am

Double yay! These definitely deserve a post all to themselves. If I really want to up the ante, I make brown butter first, then use that to make the speculoos. Warm toasty holiday cheer in one little package. Cheers!

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Heibreg May 27, 2014 at 6:51 am

How do I make brown butter? Do u melt it, ?

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Irvin May 27, 2014 at 12:37 pm

Hi Heibreg. To make brown butter you cook the butter in a pan, letting it first melt then continue to cook so the butter fat solids start to brown. Once you notice browning of the butter (it will also start to smell nutty and fragrant), I turn the heat of the pan off and let the residual heat brown the rest of the butter fat. I try not to cook the butter too long, as it can go from brown butter to black butter (burnt) pretty fast.

If you do go the brown butter route with this recipe, I’d recommend letting the dough sit in the fridge for an hour or so to chill and firm up. When made with melted brown butter, this dough may be too soft to roll out properly and you may lose the pattern and indentions from the springerle rolling pin if you don’t.

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Lora December 3, 2012 at 8:45 am

Fantastic. Make me miss Christmas in Germany. Our house is near the Dutch border so these were always around in early December. Beautiful job.

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Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar December 3, 2012 at 10:39 am

You found the Biscoff secret?! Count me in!

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Nicole @ Arctic Garden Studio December 3, 2012 at 10:54 am

I fell in love with Biscoff visiting Belgium many years ago. I loved the cookie shops with all the simple, but delightfully different cookies. The package ones just aren’t the same. Making them myself has been on my baking list for years. I admire your making it happen and not just buying them.

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Pat December 3, 2012 at 11:15 am

I was a freak among my childhood friends for loving Dutch windmill cookies better than their more boring American choices! And I have a special love of nutmeg — which I’ve seen disparaged by a number of people lately — so this recipe is especially welcome this holiday time. Thanks, Irvin.

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Kelly December 3, 2012 at 1:13 pm

My favorite kitchen store in Philly, Fantes, has baking supplies from various traditions and cultures. I’d always stop to look at the intricately carved pins and assumed they were for plain shortbread, but never thought to look them up. These sound wonderful! I love adding black pepper to gingerbread; I’m sure it makes the flavor pop here too. Glad you could reconnect with fond memories. Happy Holidays, Irvin!

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Margot @ Coffee & Vanilla December 3, 2012 at 1:23 pm

Oh, I love speculoos!
What a nice rolling pin, must look for something similar.
Back home we are also celebrating St.Nicolas day, on the 6th of December… kids are always getting some little gifts and sweets under the pillow :)

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Kathy - Panini Happy December 3, 2012 at 6:48 pm

That’s the awesomest rolling pin I’ve ever seen! How cool. I was right there with you, rocking out to Electric Youth sophomore year in ’89. I think I still might even have that cologne in a box somewhere too, lol.

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Belinda @zomppa December 4, 2012 at 4:18 am

How lovely the memories must be – the right smells – especially these cookies – will do it. I hope you were rocking it out to Debbie Gibson and her hat!

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Naomi December 4, 2012 at 9:50 am

Oh my! I love this recipe… and I especially love the Springerle rolling pin.. where could I find one of those?

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Irvin December 5, 2012 at 12:45 am

Probably the easiest place to get a Springerle rolling pin is online at Amazon or if you want to find something less mass market, there are a number of antique and vintage ones for sale on EBay.

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Jenny December 4, 2012 at 11:31 am

How long will these keep?

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Irvin December 5, 2012 at 12:47 am

Ooohhh… Good question. I’m not sure but my guess is about a week in an air tight container or ziplock bag. They harden and crisp up so moisture is their enemy, so if your home is humid or damp, the lifespan will shorten.

That said, I’ve also kept them in my freezer for up to two months and they defrost just fine without anyone noticing at all.

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Kelly December 5, 2012 at 4:21 am

What a wonderful story, Irvin! I am savoring the cloves wafting through the post…

On behalf of the whole Cooking with Caitlin crew, THANK YOU for your extra special contribution to the app, and also for the generous nods throughout. We are deeelighted to be tangled up with you (and your speculaas). :)

Kelly

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Megan December 5, 2012 at 1:32 pm

Very interesting!! Last night I was reading the ingredients on the back of my “Cookie Butter” jar from Trader Joe’s. The first thing listed is “speculoos”. Then I noticed the word on the front of the jar. I was going to google the word today! That is a bizarre coincidence! I’m so glad you posted this!! Thanks! And I can’t wait to try out the recipe! Thanks again!

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Jane December 9, 2012 at 10:58 am

On a cold, grey day in London I made these cookies this afternoon and they are truly delicious – a taste of Christmas in a mouthful – and they certainly do make the house smell divine. I’d never seen these rolling pins before but soon found one on Amazon. Thanks for the recipe Irvin, I shall definitely be making more of these in the next fortnight.

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Irvin December 10, 2012 at 6:46 pm

Yay! I’m so glad you made them Jane. Happy holidays!

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Karen December 20, 2012 at 9:21 am

Thank you for sharing this. I’ve made three batches over the last week and given most of them away to friends and colleagues. I plan to bake even more for Christmas. I work for a Dutch owned corporation and the Dutch executives raved about these cookies. One asked for the recipe and I referred him to your website. Happy Holidays.

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Heide M. December 22, 2012 at 1:55 pm

Wish I had some of these cookies, love the designs. Where can you find one of those rolling pin?

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Irvin December 22, 2012 at 11:02 pm

I bought my pin at Lehman’s in Ohio, but you can get the one I bought on amazon as well.

That said if you search eBay you can totally find really cool vintage ones as well. Just search with the terms “Springerle Rolling Pin” and you can browse.

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Kim December 30, 2012 at 7:03 pm

I stumbled on this page by accident, live in SF, grew up in Cincy, and love to bake, and love those Bishoff cookies , yahooooo!
You Rock

Much thanks for the recipe

Kim

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SK February 21, 2013 at 3:08 pm

This is so inspiring… knowing that food blogs, when filled with enough passion (and proficiency) can really take off… I am a budding writer and have loved baking since I started with my mum as a child! Your blog shall be my vicarious mentor!

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Joanna April 28, 2013 at 1:00 pm

All I can say is….nice Hans Solo glass :)

and these cookies look awesome! Thanks for the recipe!

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Liezl @ Two Suitcases and a Tin Pot September 5, 2013 at 10:47 pm

Yeah, love how Han Solo made it in there! Thanks for sharing. I live in SA, but have been hearing about cookie butter, so wondered what exactly went in to speculaas.

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irena October 27, 2013 at 3:06 am

just want to ask what are ground cloves? are you pertaining to garlic cloves?

thanks!

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Irvin October 27, 2013 at 10:23 am

Nope! Cloves are an aromatic dried flower bud of a tree. They are hard and about the size of a peppercorn with at tail before they are ground. They are often used to flavor Indian and African cuisine. You can buy them already ground in the spice section or whole and grind them yourself. For more information, check out their “uses” section of their wikipedia page.

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Irena October 28, 2013 at 9:17 am

Thanks a lot! I’ll go and try this recipe!

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Chuck October 28, 2013 at 7:51 pm

Aloha from the Big Island:
Now that we are hooked on the cookie butter from Trader Joe’s (which, sadly, we do NOT have in Hawai’i!), I did a search for Speculoos and this site came up. I have bookmarked the recipe and am going to make an attempt to make these. Not sure yet if I will buy the rolling pin first from Amazon, or just give it a go on my own. If they taste anything like that cookie butter from TJ’s…I have a feeling I will be making these a LOT! Big mahalos for posting this recipe!

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Ana Luisa November 6, 2013 at 7:40 am

W-O-W !!! That´s pretty much how I feel about your blog… Great pics, amazing choice of recipes. I will start on the speculoos TODAY. Can´t wait to feel that spicy whiff in my kitchen!! Thank you for sharing the recipe and Kudos for your work :)

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Marijke November 30, 2013 at 9:31 am

Great article on my favourite cookie. I make an even more spectacular version, by adding a layer of home made almon paste between 2 layers of cookie dough, yum.

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Irvin December 13, 2013 at 11:31 pm

That sounds lovely! And very Dutch of you!

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Jess December 13, 2013 at 8:45 am

These were SO delicious! Thank you so much for this recipe. I made my first batch of these last weekend and will be making a QUADRUPLE batch this weekend for a cookie swap! :D

Just a question: I used a fairly intricate cookie mold on the first batch, refrigerated as directed (actually, a bit longer) and they still puffed up a lot. Any tips on keeping the imprint crisp, or do you know of any other cookie recipes that retain a crisp imprint?

This is the mold I used: http://houseonthehill.net/christmas/winter-sleigh-scene/

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Irvin December 13, 2013 at 11:31 pm

Whoa that ‘s a cool mold! So I would try experimenting a little with the cookie dough. First omit the baking soda then make sure to beat the absolute minimum. The more you mix the dough, the more air gets trapped into the dough, which causes it puff up when you bake it. If you have the arm power, you can even try hand mixing it, so it doesn’t get over worked, but that’s a lot of sweat!

I’d also leave the cookies in the fridge, uncovered, overnight. If that doesn’t work, try freezing the dough first and baking them directly from the freezer. Good luck and let me know how they turn out!

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ana December 22, 2013 at 1:17 am

absolutely marvellous! thank you very much!:)

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Doreen December 22, 2013 at 2:43 pm

is the egg absolutely necessary for this recipe to work?
We have egg allergies in my family and I LOVE the Biscoff commercial cookies which don’t have egg.
I have used the powdered egg substitute at times but don’t always find the results to be the same.
thank you

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Irvin December 22, 2013 at 3:28 pm

Hi Doreen,

I think it would work without the egg but I haven’t actually tried it. An egg does two things, it binds the ingredients together and it tenderizes the cookies. Without the egg, you might need to mix the ingredients a little more or knead the dough with your hands a bit more to get it form a dough and the resulting cookie might be a little more shortbread like and more crumbly (not a bad thing, just slightly different). But I think it should work! If you try it without an egg, come back and tell me how it turns out!

And if the cookie is TOO crumbly or you have a hard time making the dough form, you could try making a “flax egg” by mixing 1 tablespoon of flax meal together with 1 tablespoon of water and letting it sit and gel. Once it’s thickened, scrape it into the dough in place of the egg. Or if you aren’t fond of the flavor of flax, you can make a “chia egg” by doing the same thing but grinding and adding 1 1/2 tablespoons of chia seeds to 1 tablespoon of water. Chia has a more neutral flavor.

Good luck!

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Doreen December 22, 2013 at 2:45 pm

Is the egg in this recipe absolutely necessary for it to work.
We have egg allergies in our family and this season I am looking for any all egg free cookies.
We love the commercial Biscoff cookies and their ingredients list does not have egg…

thanks

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Terri December 23, 2013 at 12:17 am

I have been consistently making speculaas using your recipe for about six months now, with such delicious results every time! I’ve actually just finished off my latest batch for some Christmas gifts. I love using so many gorgeous spices – they make the whole house smell amazing! I’ve gotten so many great comments on these biscuits – and really I just thought I’d leave a bit of a ‘thank you’ to you, Irvin, for adding a really beautiful creation to my baking repertoire :D

Merry Christmas!
Terri

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Irvin December 23, 2013 at 12:51 am

Awww… Thank you so much! It’s comments like yours that makes blogging worth it. So thrilled you use and love my recipe! Happy holidays to you!

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kj January 12, 2014 at 5:25 pm

this is the BEST internet version of these spekulaas, the cookie of my childhood (in Canada)
GREAT traditional recipe.
For spicier cookies I
add Mace and
increase the ginger and pepper,
decrease the sugar by 2 tsp.

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Jenny Kallista February 28, 2014 at 7:07 am

Hi Irvin!

I was craving Biscoffs (which I have Delta to thank for my enlightenment, believe it or not!), but I was wondering “how hard could they possibly be?”, when I set upon a little google search. Lo (or Lin!) and behold, I found you and your beautiful blog. I love your easy, comfortable writing style, and your photos are lovely. And the cookies! Well, I went ahead and found a vintage springerle pin on ebay and only once it arrived did I embark upon executing your recipe. I used freshly ground nutmeg and cloves (because I simply only had whole, so out with the mortar and pestle for the cloves, and put to use my new nutmeg mill I got for Christmas), the rest of the spices were pre-ground… well they were just as delicious as I had hoped. Thank you for your gorgeous contribution to the blogosphere of food!

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louise November 4, 2014 at 5:16 am

Thanks. I live in italy and we can’t always get spekulaas here… Really only at Christmas … So I can make them early this year as a surprise for my bf! They’re one if the few biscuits he likes! Had to do without cardamon, cloves and cookie cutters but the result is still pretty good! Thanks!

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Irvin November 4, 2014 at 3:58 pm

Yay! I’m glad you liked them. Those spices aren’t super necessary, nor are the cookie cutters. Glad you could surprise your BF!

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Kristen November 7, 2014 at 8:45 am

Thank you so much for this recipe, this is exactly what I’ve been looking for! One question though, what’s the best way to store these?

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Rosemary November 15, 2014 at 6:38 pm

Hello Irvin found your website looking for spicy biscuits I make italian ones then dipped in chocolate told family you are getting this ones love the rolling pin will try find one. So many thanks from my little bit of paradise australia

Cheers
Rosie

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Marilia Karpodini November 24, 2014 at 2:03 pm

Just made these in my tiny student kitchen and OH MY GOD. They are the most fragrant and delicious cookies ever! You just made my day with this recipe!

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Mandy November 30, 2014 at 11:04 pm

My speculaas didn’t turn out :(

Definitely thinking the fault lies in what I did. Firstly I tried the melted brown butter suggested in an earlier comment. I’ve tried this approach with chocolate chip cookies and it worked a treat so felt confident. Secondly I had forgotten the baking soda so added that after the vanilla and egg (also my egg was medium to small).

The dough smelled and tasted amazing and was I feeling pretty confident. Then I refrigerated it which turned out to be for at least four hours. The dough was rock hard and was quite hard to manage after than. It was very crumbly and I had a lot of trouble rolling it. The end result were biscuits that looked and tasted great but were really hard with no crunch factor.

Just wondering if you can offer any reason for this? I’m even wondering if I may have inadvertently added too much flour, or maybe it was melting the butter first?

Or are spekulaas meant to be hard? My partner thinks they are fine but I would prefer a crunchy biscuit.

Also two more little questions if I may :)
I like a bit more salt to the taste..should I do that by using salted butter or adding salt?

Was also thinking of substituting a bit of the flour for almond meal..can you advise on how much? Was thinking of substituting 1/2 cup of flour for 1/2 almond meal.

Fantastic blog, by the way! Love this recipe so I would appreciate any advice you might have :)

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Irvin December 3, 2014 at 11:48 pm

Hi Mandy,

So there’s a lot of variables in your changes and I’m not sure what was the exact issue. Using small or medium eggs might have effected the dough as does the melting the butter and leaving the dough in the fridge. You might want to try the recipe exactly as it is written and see how it turns out first before changing things around. Certainly adding a little more salt (I’d opt for just adding the salt instead of using salted butter as you can’t control how much salt is in salted butter and different brands add different amounts of salt) won’t effect the cookie texture, just the flavor. Substituting almond meal will make the cookie more crumbly but a 1/2 cup isn’t too much, but if your dough is already crumbly to begin with, the almond flour is going to make it worse. Maybe try adding a touch of almond extract instead to give a hint of the almond flavor.

Anyway I hope all the above helps! Because of all the substitutions I just can’t pinpoint what might be the issue. The end resulting cookie when I make tends to be a crisp gingersnap like cookie, not super crunchy but not super hard either. It’s possible you might have overbaked them as well if they are too hard.

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Mandy December 6, 2014 at 1:37 am

Thanks Irving! I tried the recipe as is and it turned out much, much better! I reckon it was the melted butter. Thanks so much for replying. I’ll try it with the almond meal and get back to you with the results!

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Natalie December 7, 2014 at 3:04 am

Thanks Irving,

Not just for the fabulous recipe for speculoos cookie recipe, but for being geek enough to have a Han Solo coffee cup sitting next to your work surface!
Cheers,
Natalie

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Irvin December 7, 2014 at 11:20 am

Ha! Yes, my partner AJ is a HUGE Star Wars fan. He quite excited about the new ones…

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Natalie Kravetz December 7, 2014 at 5:22 pm

Hee hee – he sounds like a keeper! Well, depending upon whether you actually *want* to attend cons, LOL!
Oh hey, about the pepper in the recipe – I’ve been trying to find an ingredient list for speculoos cookies with no luck, but I’m almost certain that the commercially made version doesn’t contain any pepper. I’ll just say it – I am NOT a pepper fan, nor do I find that there being a ‘bite’ to a cookie makes them more appealing. Though I must admit that I do love Nyacker gingersnaps; they are *just* this side of not-too-spicy. (Oh heck, I just realized that Nyacker gingersnaps would make absolutely fabulous cookie butter. But I digress.)
So, what do you think? Integral, essential part of the authentic speculoos cookie experience? Or meh, you can live without it?
Thanks sweetie! Love your blog – talk about fabulousness! YAY what a find!

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Irvin December 7, 2014 at 5:49 pm

Thankfully he’s not THAT hardcore a fan. We don’t attend any of the cons (though we did do ComicCon a few years ago and he was highly amused by all the Star Wars stuff).

As for the pepper, if you don’t like it than leave them out. I don’t think it’s integral (though I certainly like it in the cookie) but if it’s something you are strongly adverse to, then definitely don’t worry too much about it.

That said, the pepper is pretty subtle in the cookie. I like adding it not just because of the “bite” but because it’s gives the spices in the cookie a bit of a dimension. But with all the other spices in there, I don’t think anyone is going to miss it, especially if there isn’t a side-by-side comparison!

And there are a wide range of recipes out there for these cookies. Most (but not all) include white pepper in there. I added black pepper as well but the white pepper does have a sharpness that you can’t find in any of the other spices.

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Natalie December 9, 2014 at 3:40 pm

*SNORT* The Gastro HA! You are cracking me up over here. That’s just, oh, so awesome. Thank you for my ‘What the hell is she reading NOW?!? moment for the day.

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Paula December 15, 2014 at 9:22 am

Discovered this recipe last Christmas and am making again this year because they are crazy delicious!! Have just trebled the recipe but have put it in the fridge as I find the recipe too sticky to roll out initially…I then just flour my board and so no more sticking!
Just a question though, do you think these would be ok to be flood iced? Or do you think that would make them overly sweet? I want to decorate to give as teacher gifts :)

Thanks so much for the wonderful recipe :)

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Irvin December 16, 2014 at 12:19 am

Hi Paula,

I think they would be awesome flood iced! The cookies themselves aren’t super sweet so using royal icing on them would probably be fine. Plus they would be super tasty. Send some my way! ;)

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Laura December 17, 2014 at 4:53 pm

Hi Irvin!
I made these cookies last Christmas for my Dutch parents, and they loved them! I made them again this summer when some friends from the Netherlands were visiting, and they were very pleased and impressed with them! I’m getting ready to make a double batch of them now. I’m excited to give more away this year, including to my new boss, who is Dutch. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe and helping me celebrate my Dutch heritage in such a yummy way!

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