Speculaas Christmas Cookies
(recipe from MarthaStewart.com magazine)
this recipe and found these spicy cookies to be wonderfully delicious –
plus we added a layer of chocolate on the bottom of each cookie!
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground mace
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
Pinch of ground cloves
6 ounces (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup water
Confectioners' sugar for kneading dough
1. Whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cardamom, mace, white pepper, and cloves in a large bowl.
2. Cream butter and brown sugar utnil light and fluffy. Beat in half the flour mixture. Beat in water, then remaining flour mixture (reserve 1/2 cup flour to see if you need it).
3. Shape dough into 3 disks. Dough should be slightly sticky. Place on floured surface and pat down to a 1-inch thickness, adding flour if needed. Wrap in plastic and
REFREGERATE FOR 1 HOUR.
4. Lightly dust cookie stamp with confectioners' sugar and remove any excess with toothbrush. If you use the same stamp over and over, use a toothpick to clean out any sugar that accumulates in the crevices of the design. Stamp dough as follows:
For 2" round cookies cut with cookie cutter:
Dust working surface lightly with confectioners' sugar. Roll out dough to a 1/4- to 3/8-inch thickness, adding confectioners' sugar if needed until dough is of good consistency and feels silky smooth. Press stamp into smooth dough with a rocking motion to work dough into all parts of the stamp design, and gently remove stamp. If it sticks, either the dough is too sticky (dust lightly with more sugar) or too warm (re-chill it), or the stamp needs more confectioners' sugar. Cut out design with cookie cutter and place on parchment-lined cookie sheet about 1 inch apart. These cookies did not spread in the oven.
For 2 1/2" cookies with fluted edge:
Form dough into 1" balls and place on parchment-lined cookie sheet about 2 1/2" apart. Press down on center of ball with cookie stamp, using a rocking motion to work dough into all parts of the stamp design, and
gently remove stamp. If it sticks, either the dough is too sticky (dust lightly with more sugar) or too
warm (re-chill it), or the stamp needs more confectioners' sugar.
5. FREEZE UNTIL FIRM – ABOUT 1 HOUR. Try to bake your cookies right away, rather than leaving them overnight. We had problems with the cookies cracking in the oven because we couldn't bake them right after they were stamped – we covered them with a dish towel all night; the next morning, we froze them 1 hour, then baked them. But they had dried out too much so they cracked (see first 2 closeups at bottom of page). We solved the cracking problem by spraying the next batch with butter-flavored cooking spray just before baking.
6. Preheat oven to 325º F. Place 1 sheet of cookies in oven and IMMEDIATELY reduce temperature to 250ºF (we tried waiting 10 minutes before reducing the temperature for browner cookies shown in photo below). Bake 1 sheet at a time, until cookies are set and just beginning to turn light gold around edges, 55 to 65 minutes.
Let cool on cookie sheets on wire racks. When completely cool, add layers of chocolate to underside of each cookie (optional).
Optional: Add a coating of Hershey's millk chocolate
to the bottom of each cookie
1 bar (7 ounces) Hershey's Milk Chocolate or a chunk of dark chocolate of your choice (amount needed depends on number of cookies you have and how
thick you apply the chocolate to the bottoms of the cookies)
1. Break the Hershey bar into pieces and melt in the top half of a double boiler, or in a glass
pirex bowl over a pan filled with water (do not let the water touch the
bowl). Simmer water on low and let chocolate melt slowly
while you stir. Or you can melt 1 cup at a time in the microwave on
half power, stirring every 15-30 seconds until melted.
2. Use a spatula to apply melted
chocolate to bottom of cookies and place back on parchment-lined cookie
sheet with chocolate side up. Place in freezer 30 minutes to harden.
Optional: Add a coating of white chocolate
mixed with crushed candy canes to the bottom of each cookie
1 bag (12 ounces) Nestle's Premier White chocolate morsels or a chunk of white chocolate
(amount needed depends on number of cookies you have and how
thick you apply the chocolate to the bottoms of the cookies)Optional:
1 large or several small striped candy canes (we used 25 tiny red and
white candy canes), crushed into very fine pieces
1. Melt the chocolate. White chocolate will scorch when melted at a high heat, so best to melt in the top half of a double boiler, or in a glass pirex bowl over a pan filled with water (do not let the water touch the bowl). Simmer water on low and let white chocolate morsels melt slowly while you stir. Or you can melt 1 cup at a time in the microwave on half power, stirring every 15-30 seconds until melted.
2. Optional: Add finely crushed candy canes to the white chocolate for added color and a peppermint pop of flavor in each bite (to taste). Make sure that the peppermint flavor will complement the flavor you use in the springerle cookies.
3. Use a spatula to apply melted white chocolate to bottom of cookies and place back on parchment-lined cookie sheet with white-chocolate-side up to dry. This means the design-side is down, so it is best to apply chocolate BEFORE you paint the design. Make sure no peppermint pieces are sticking out of the chocolate layer – you want your cookies to lie flat when you turn them over with the design-side up.
4. Place cookie sheet in freezer for 30 minutes until chocolate is completely hardened. Store chocolate-coated cookies in an airtight container in a cool place with wax paper in between the layers to prevent chocolate transfer to cookies beneath. These cookies can be made ahead and frozen for up to 6 months.