A Dutch kind of pastry, that exists in many varieties and is eaten mainly around Sinterklaas, but available all year.

Speculaas is made with a mixture of spices including nutmeg and cinnamon. The two main varieties are speculaas brokken (chunks): thick speculaas that is broken into pieces, and gevulde speculaas: two layers of more moist speculaas that enclose a layer of amandelspijs, a kind of almond filling that is a bit like marzipan but less fine.

Traditionally speculaas cookies are made with wooden moulds in which shapes like men and women in traditional clothes and windmills are cut out . The dough is pressed into the mould, the mould is turned upside down and hopefully the speculaas comes out in one piece.

Speculaas, or speculaaskruiden (speculaas-spices) is the Dutch name for a blend of oriental spices consisting mainly of cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. It is typically used for cookies and the like, which may seem a bit surprising considering the sharp, dominant flavors of the spices.

The cookies using speculaas-spices are also called speculaas (or the diminutive speculaasjes). They are often sold abroad as Windmill cookies, because they are in the shape of, of course, windmills. However, in Holland, speculaas is most commonly associated with Sinterklaas, the traditional Dutch Santa Claus celebration.

I could not find much on the history of this particular blend of spices. It has been used in Holland for several centuries, since ships of the Dutch East India Company returned from the colonies with oriental spices. However, it is likely that this particular blend of spices was already used in Indonesia, because several traditional dishes use this mixture. For instance, take a look at the delicious Spekkoek.

There's no official recipe for speculaas. However, the cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg are generally part of the mix. Following is a typical recipe for speculaas-spices, but feel free to play around with the ingredients and proportions. Alternatively, speculaas-spices can be bought in Holland as a ready-made mix.

And finally, a recipe for yummy Windmill cookies. If you really want to make these cookies right, buy the traditional cookie forms/wooden moulds. It's fun to have kitchen utensils with only one single practical use. Alternatively, they form nice kitchen decorations if you're into that kind of thing.

Method:

  • chop up the unpeeled almonds
  • mix all the other dry ingredients in a mixing bowl
  • add the butter, and cut it into tiny pieces with two knives
  • add the almonds
  • mix the dough, while adding the milk spoon-by-spoon. The dough should be consistent but not too runny.


  • If you have a wooden cookie mould, add some flour to it, and press some dough into it. Cut away any excess dough. Hit the mould onto your kitchen counter to remove the cookies.
  • If you don't have a wooden mould, sprinkle flour onto your clean kitchen counter, and roll out the dough to a flat sheet. Next, cut out the cookies using cookie forms, or a 5 cm (2") glass.


  • Butter the cookie sheet (not necessary if you have a non-stick one), and arrange the cookies on it.
  • Preheat the oven to 180 C
  • Bake the cookies for 20 min. If you use more than one cookie sheet, bake each sheet one-at-a-time.
  • After baking, remove the cookies from the sheet immediately, and turn them upside-down.

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