Speculaas Cookies (aka speculoos)

Speculaas cookies are crunchy, sweet and have a lovely warm-spice flavor. Shape them with a traditional windmill cookie mold or with a cookie cutter for a real Dutch treat.

a blue surface with speculaas cookies, a glass of milk, spices and decorations

About authentic speculaas cookies:

The Dutch call them Speculaas, the Belgians call them Speculoos and the Germans call them Spekulatius. Since my husband is Dutch, in our house they only go by the original, Speculaas. Whatever you call them, they are delicious.

Speculaas have been made in the Netherlands since the 17th century. What makes these cookies so addictive is the mix of warm spice and brown sugar in the dough.

Large speculaas cookies are traditionally baked and given as gifts for St. Nicolas Day on December 5th. I have a collection of traditional wooden speculaas molds, including a large St. Nicolas design. The windmill design is probably the one most familiar to Americans.

a collection of wooden speculaas cookie molds on a black background
Traditional speculaas molds

You don’t have to use the traditional molds to make Speculaas, but they are fun to collect and use. You can find them on Etsy if you want to give it a try.

You can also use a windmill shaped cookie cutter or even a simple round or rectangle cookie cutter will do.

Whatever the shape, roll them nice and thin so they bake up crisp and crunchy.

How to make the best speculaas cookies:

I struggled for years to make a speculaas cookie at home that was as light and crunchy as those we enjoyed on our trips to Holland.

I was using a recipe from an old Dutch cookbook so I couldn’t figure out why my cookies weren’t the right texture.

In the age of the internet, I was able to do lots of research on various Dutch websites to try and crack the code. But it was a helpful (Dutch) member of my Facebook group (ask to join and I’ll add you to the group) that finally set me straight.

She explained to me that Dutch all purpose flour is softer than the all purpose flour in the US. Also, most Dutch speculaas recipes call for “zeeuwse bloem” which would be the equivalent of pastry flour here in the US.

When I want to use pastry flour, as I do for my Pie Dough and Buttermilk Biscuits, I use a mix of AP flour and cake flour. So here was a great solution to my speculaas troubles.

I also came across a recipe that used almond flour in the mix and liked what the almond flour did for the texture. Because almond flour does not have gluten, it has a tenderizing effect on the dough. Also, the gritty texture of the almond flour helped create the perfect light, crunchy texture I was after.

So I finally had it. After years and years of testing it turns out a great speculaas is made by using a mix of all purpose, cake and almond flours.

Oh, and the specific mix of spices I use is a knock-out. It was inspired by another Dutch treat, Spekkoek. But you can buy pre-mixed speculaas spice to make life a little easier.

Scroll through the step by step photos to see how to make authentic Speculass Cookies:

two photos showing the set up for molding speculaas cookies
Lightly dust the speculaas molds with rice flour, fill the molds. If using a cookie cutter, roll the dough to 1/4″ thick and cut the cookies.
the tip of a knife loosening the edge of a speculaas cookie from a wooden mold
Use the tip of a paring knife to loosen the edges of the dough from the mold.
a speculaas cookie flipped out of the mold onto a cookie tray
Flip the cookie out onto the baking sheet
unbaked speculaas cookies on a baking pan
Line the cookie up on the pan and bake until brown around the edges.
a stack of speculaas windmill cookies
a speculaas cookie with a glass of milk

If you love these Speculaas Cookies, you’ll really love almond filled Speculaas Cake. For another Dutch treat try authentic Dutch Boterkoek, Dutch Apple Tart or make sweet or savory Dutch Pancakes.

If you love this recipe as much as I do, I’d really appreciate a 5-star review.

Print Recipe
4.50 from 10 reviews

Speculaas

Speculaas cookes are crunchy, sweet and have a lovely warm-spice flavor. Shape them with a traditional windmill cookie molds or cutter for a real Dutch treat.
Prep Time20 minutes
Bake Time8 minutes
Rolling/Cutting Time20 minutes
Total Time48 minutes
18 Cookies
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Ingredients

  • 5 oz all purpose flour (1 cup, see note)
  • 2 ¼ oz cake flour (½ cup)
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon table salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon cardamom
  • ¼ teaspoon cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon white pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon ground anise
  • 4 oz unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 6 oz brown sugar (¾ cup packed)
  • 2 oz almond flour (⅓ cup)
  • 1 oz whole milk (2 tablespoons)
  • rice flour for molds or ap flour for rolling

Instructions

  • Sift together 5 oz all purpose flour, 2 ¼ oz cake flour, ½ teaspoon baking soda, ¼ teaspoon table salt, 2 teaspoons cinnamon,½ teaspoon ginger, ¼ teaspoon nutmeg, ¼ teaspoon cardamom, ¼ teaspoon cloves, ¼ teaspoon white pepper, and ¼ teaspoon ground anise.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer or a large mixing bowl, cream together4 oz unsalted butter and 6 oz brown sugar until lightened in color and slightly aerated. Add 2 oz almond flour and mix until incorporated.
  • Add 1 oz whole milk to the butter mixture. Add the sifted flour mixture. Mix until the dough comes together.
  • Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead briefly to form the dough into a ball, wrap and refrigerate at least 2-3 hours or overnight.
  • Line two half sheet pans with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 400 °F.
  • If you're using a cookie cutter, roll the dough to ¼" thick and cut the shapes. Reroll the scraps and continue cutting. If using wooden speculaas molds it's easier to work with the dough if you let it soften up. Dust the molds with rice flour and press a ball of dough to fill the cavity. Trim off excess dough and flip the cookie onto the parchment lined baking sheet.
  • Bake the cookies for 5 minutes. Turn the trays and bake another 3 minutes until brown around the edges and the dough is set in the middle.
  • When cool, store cookies in an air-tight container.

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Notes

If measuring the flour by volume use the “dip & sweep” method. That is, dip the measuring cup into the flour bin, overfill it, then sweep away the excess.
You can use 1 tablespoon plus a teaspoon of pre-mixed speculaas spice in place of the spices listed in the recipe.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cookie | Calories: 142kcal | Carbohydrates: 19g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 14mg | Sodium: 67mg | Potassium: 30mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 161IU | Vitamin C: 0.02mg | Calcium: 22mg | Iron: 1mg
Have you tried this recipe?Mention @eileen.bakingsense or tag #bakingsense!

7 Comments

  1. 4 stars
    I tried this recipe last year as per the directions but the cookies were too soft. This year I made a few modifications to get a crispier cookie. Also made some substitutions to make them plant based. They came out great!!
    – I subbed about 70% of the brown sugar with white (white sugar makes a crispier cookie due to lower moisture content). Next time I would try about 50% to get more of that molasses flavour.
    – Didn’t have cake flour, so I used more all-purpose. (Higher protein content in AP flour = crispier cookie. Also I’m in Canada so AP flour is a bit different than in the US… I think this worked in my favour).
    – Used 3.75 tsp pre-made speculaas spice mix from a Dutch store. Next time I would use way more, up to 5-6 tsp as I like a spicy cookie. (The spice mix has cinnamon, coriander, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, cardamom, and orange peel. I added 1/4 tsp each of anise and allspice.)
    – I used Becel/margarine instead of butter. It is salted so I reduced salt to 1/8 tsp.
    – Cover the bowl with a plate and refrigerate overnight. Then let the dough come to room temp the next day. The dough becomes a bit dry and brittle, but it ends up OK! Lower moisture = crispier cookie.
    – I used wooden molds from Holland, sprayed with avocado oil and then generously dusted with rice flour. Grab a clump of dough, squeeze it in your hand to get it to stick together, then press it into the mold. Then get a serrated knife and carefully slice off the excess upper layer while pressing down on the rest of the dough to keep it in place.
    – (FYI, I don’t think this method would work well for rolling out with a rolling pin. The dough becomes too brittle. You will need molds, or perhaps press the dough into cookie cutters by hand.)
    – Tap out the mold onto a greased cookie sheet. It should come right out.
    – Bake at 350F for 10 min, cool on tray 5 min, then finish coking on rack (however, bake time will depend on the thickness of the cookies. Mine were very thin due to the mold.)

    I have been experimenting with speculaas for a few years to try to make them taste like I remember! This is the closest I’ve come so far. Hopefully this helps someone.

  2. Speculaas cookies were my cookie challenge for this year and your recipe was fantastic. The different blend of flours yielded a crisp and tasty cookie. Thank you for posting this!

  3. Hello Eileen, I found this recipe while looking for a boterkoek recipe (which I quickly pinned as it most closely replicated my Mother’s as I remember it). But then in the recommended section were the recipes for Appeltaart, gevulde speculaas and speculaasjes! Wow, did I ever luck out! I am particularly excited about trying the speculaasjes as I’ve never seen one in English that takes into consideration the equivalents for Dutch flour and basterd suiker. Or this particular combination of spices for speculaas spice mix. Those equivalents will be so interesting to try…especially with Sinterklaas just around the corner.
    BTW if your husband has a longing for Dutch cookery, you might like to check out Toine’s Kitchen on YouTube…in English. Or the FoodTube segments starring Cees Holtkamp ( a lovely famous Dutch baker and his granddaughter). This is in Dutch, so your husband would need to translate for you. In addition to many other Dutch goodies, he also demonstrates how to make Appeltaart. I had to watch it 20+ times as I struggled laboriously to translate…but it was worth it in the end because the taart was fantastic…dare I say it…almost as good as one I had in NL!!! He includes a very thin layer of almond paste over the bottom before adding the apples. He partially cooks/ poaches the apples before adding them. Lekker! Thanks again!

    1. Hi Jen. So glad you’re enjoying the recipes. My husband also lightly poaches the apples when making the appeltaart. Depending on the type of apple you use, if you use a very hard apple, that is a nice step.

  4. You said you tried this with almond flour, with good results. Do you have a recipe for this? I am grain free, but I love these cookies and would love to make some I can eat.

    1. I use some almond flour in the recipe, but I don’t think you could use only almond flour and no wheat flour. The cookies would be way too crumbly.

  5. This is a 5 star recipe! Excellent cookies. This recipe seems to be very forgiving because using a variety of flours (1/2 c white whole wheat, 1/4 c each of spelt & barley flours) along with the cake flour and 2 Tbsp of heavy cream instead of milk did not affect the wonderful results.
    I also stirred in finely chopped dried tart cherries & choped almond slices into one batch.
    The dough was formed into a log using waxed paper & sliced thin after refrigerating overnight.

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