Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Dutch Spaculaas

My Opa was a Dutch gentleman with a family of 11 children. I suppose there wasn't a whole lot of money to go around. But when all the children left home I'm guessing there was more room for some niceties. I can still see him taking down a big square silver tin from the cupboard, beautifully embossed, and taking the lid off. There was a particular aroma that then flowed from within, marzipan and spices, and a delicious selection of European biscuits all on display.  There were the most delicious moist almond cakes and divine, large, round biscuits with a wafer  base. There were Spaculaas and chocolate dipped Bokkenpootjes. Pfeffernusse and Nurnberger Lebkuchen. All mouthwatering. I wish I could remember all the names of them!
There was a bit of a theme I noticed--spices and almonds. They seemed to be the common factor in a lot of the specialty biscuits.
This simple recipe for spaculaas combines both spices and almonds. Traditionally spaculaas has the imprint of a windmill on them, but I don't happen to possess any fancy molds. They're just as tasty without a pretty picture on them, or you can do as I did and roll a lace doily print onto the uncooked dough first. Slivered almonds also make for a lovely surface where a print cannot be found, and add lovely texture and flavour.
Prepare for your house to be filled with a cinnamon, clove, nutmeg and buttery aroma! It's truly magnificent. And these biscuits taste exactly like the spaculaas you can buy in the stores, with that fantastic melt in your mouth buttery texture.
God bless my Opa's cotton socks--he gave me some European taste buds I am most grateful for. I'm pretty sure I passed those onto my children too--they can't get enough of these biscuits! (And if you're one of those naughty raw cookie dough eaters, this recipe is egg-less, so you're safe to eat great quantities of it--if your heart so desires!)


225g butter, room temperature
170g brown sugar
140g plain flour
140g Self Raising flour
2 heaped tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/3 cup slithered almonds

Preheat the oven at 180C.
Place the butter and sugar in a large bowl and beat until light and fluffy. Sift in the flours and spices. Combine until a soft dough forms. Roll out the dough between two pieces of plastic film (such as Glad wrap). If you wish to imprint the top with a lace pattern, leave out the top layer of plastic and lightly dust the surface with a little extra flour before placing the doily down and rolling once to achieve the print. Cut into rectangles or any shape using a cookie cutter. Place on greased and paper lined trays. If you want to decorate the biscuits with slithered almonds, do so when the raw dough is on the tray.
Cook for 15-20 minutes.
Allow to sit for 5 minutes on the tray before moving to a wire cooling rack.

Makes about 40

My handsome Opa on the right in the 1940s


  1. Thank You Louise for this amazing easy recipe all my family will love it thanks :)

  2. They look simple but really nice with all those spices. Nice warming recipe with cinnamon just right for Christas

    1. perfect for Christmas Madeja...nothing like a bit of spice!

  3. What a cool idea! These are beautiful cookies :)

    1. thanks Ashley. amazing what you can do with bits and bobs from around the house:)


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