Spekulatius cookies are traditional Christmas spice cookies in Germany, although in the Netherlands (where they are known as spekulaas) and the U.S., they are available all year long as "Dutch Windmill Cookies."
Spekulatius is related to the Latin word speculum, meaning "mirror." Since the cookies are formed in a bas-relief carved wooden mold, a mirror image of the mold becomes the cookie.
This easy recipe for German spice cookies has easy-to-find ingredients for the Stateside hausfrau. Make spekulatius cookies in traditional molds or roll the dough and cut with cookie cutters but, for best flavor, let the dough sit overnight before rolling, cutting and baking.
- 1 1/4 cups sugar
- 1 tablespoon vanilla sugar
- 7 ounces butter (room-temperature)
- 2 large eggs (room-temperature)
- 4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baker's ammonia (or 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, single acting or double acting)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
Make the Dough
- In a large bowl, cream granulated sugar and vanilla sugar with butter until well combined. Beat in eggs, one at a time.
- Sift or whisk together flour with baker's ammonia or baking powder, salt, cinnamon, cloves, and cardamom. Stir into creamed mixture until it forms a stiff dough.
- Shape dough into a ball, cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 or more hours (overnight is best).
Shape the Cookies
- Oil and flour a spekulatius mold. Tap out all excess flour.
- Roll a golf ball-size piece of dough between your lightly floured hands into an egg shape. Press the dough into the mold, filling all crevices.
- Use a sharp knife or piece of kitchen twine to cut off excess dough, so the dough is flush with mold. Tap the mold on the counter to release the cookie, or use a sharp knife to start the release of cookie.
- Carefully place the cookie on a cookie sheet and repeat with the rest of the dough.
- If this process becomes too onerous, or you do not own any cookie molds, roll the dough 1/8 inch thick (2 to 3 ml) and cut out cookies using your favorite cookie cutters.
Bake the Cookies
- Bake in an oven heated to 350 F for 10 to 12 minutes or until cookies brown slightly around the edges.
- These cookies can be decorated like conventional sugar cookies, but the old-fashioned mold imprints should not be overshadowed, nor should the delicate flavor of the dough be masked.
- Store cooled cookies tightly covered. Because of the spices, they should keep a long time.