Speculaas Cookies

Christmas is coming in two weeks. So time to get ready and start baking. I love baking different things and experimenting each year. I try and stick to the Christmas theme. Mostly aiming at the traditional dishes which we haven’t ventured into yet. This one is Speculaas Cookies. Speculaas originated from Germany which are spiced shortbread biscuits. I don’t think I need to say anything more. Spiced and shortbread says it all. They are extremely delicious. Sometimes I feel they will replace Gingerbread cookie in the Best Christmas Cookie category. The major difference between these cookies and Gingerbread is that we add pepper to Speculaas. It creates a perfect blend of spicy, fragrant and sweet.

They are rolled cookies so you can cut them in any shape you want. My partner luckily got me small Christmas tree cutters, which I used to imprint the shape on the round cookie. Please bake these cookies because a) they are not available in Mumbai (as far as I know) and b) they are so – so – so good!

Makes about 40 – 1 inch cookies

Ingredients –

  • 100 grams butter
  • 65 grams caster sugar
  • 150 grams brown sugar
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 235 grams flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cardamom

Directions –

  • In a bowl, mix flour, baking soda and all the spices.
  • In a separate bowl cream sugar and butter until light and creamy.
  • Add egg and vanilla and mix until incorporated.
  • Add the flour mix to the butter mixture in 3 parts and mix until everything is combined.
  • Divide the dough and form a ball. Wrap it with cling wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  • Preheat oven to 180 C.
  • Line a baking tray with silpat or parchment paper.
  • Remove the dough from the fridge. Sandwich the dough between two parchment papers and roll it till 1/2 or 1/3 cm thick.
  • Take cookie cutters and cut into desired shapes. If you have small cookie/fondant cutters, you can use them to imprint the cookies. Lightly press into the cookie halfway in. So the shape is very clear but not cut fully through. Reuse and reshape the scraps.
  • Bake for 10 – 12 minutes or till brown.

Notes –

  • Originally they use a springerle pin which imprints the design on the cookie. The availability of springerle pin is very scarce in Mumbai hence we make do with smaller cookie cutters or cookie stamps.
  • You can adjust the spices according to your liking.
  • You can freeze the dough for up to a month.

Christmas Pop Tarts

Remember when we were young, living in India, watching English TV shows, watching kids put fancy rectangle shaped sweet tarts frosted with icing & sprinkles and think where can I get this? I used to fantasize about Pop Tarts and Twizzlers (yeah fat kid problem), when I used to spot their ads in Archie’s Comics. After about a decade of drooling, I finally found them in Mumbai at an exorbitant price. Now that I look at Pop Tarts and see how easy it is to make them, I contemplate whether it is a good thing I started baking late or not (fat kid can turn obese anytime).

Hence better late than never, I present to you Christmas Pop Tarts. The idea of Christmas Pop Tarts came because I bought these Christmas Sprinkles and I had to use them before Christmas or else what was the point. Then once again I came across Pop Tarts ad, and told myself, it is a tart filled with jam or chocolate. I can totally do this! So I decided I had to make them. The best part about Pop Tarts is you can customize it any way you like. I stuck to my Christmas-y theme and created a festive version of it. To see how you can customize it check the notes section in the end.

Ingredients –

Tart –

  • 1 1/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoon sugar
  • 75 grams cold butter, cut into cubes
  • 1/3 cup cold water

Filling –

  • 200 grams dark chocolate
  • 100 grams cream
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup chopped roasted almonds
  • 1/4 cup cranberries

Toppings –

  • Christmas theme sprinkles

Directions –

  • In a food processor, add flour, cocoa, cinnamon and pulse.
  • Add the cold butter and pulse till the mixture reaches a sandy consistency.
  • Remove in a separate bowl and add ice cold water one tablespoon at a time and knead to form a dough. Once the dough is formed, wrap it with cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  • Heat the cream till its scalding – not boiling and add to the chocolate. Mix till all the chocolate is melted. If the chocolate is not melting after a few minutes. Melt it in with a microwave by giving it 10 seconds bursts.
  • Once the ganache mixture is formed. Refrigerate till it sets.
  • Preheat the oven to 200 C.
  • Roll the tart dough and cut into 3 x 4 inches rectangles. This recipe is for 6 pop tarts. So you should have 12 rectangle sheets.
  • Take a sheet, spread some ganache. You can microwave the ganache for 10 seconds if it is too stiff. Sprinkle almonds and cranberries and cover with another sheet.
  • Take a fork, press down all four sides and punch in some holes on the top sheet with the fork.
  • Bake for 20 minutes. Let them cool completely.
  • Frost the top with the remainder of the ganache and sprinkle the Christmas themed sprinkles.
  • Store in a refrigerator for up to 5 days. Heat it in the microwave before serving, so the ganache melts and it is soft in the center.

Notes –

  • You can add whatever you want for the filling. Any type of jam, more chocolate, or even chocolate chips in the center.
  • You can vary in the dry fruits department by adding walnuts, cashew, raisins, whichever you fruit you like.
  • You can make ahead the tart dough and keep. I would suggest make a bigger batch store it in the freezer and enjoy the Pop Tarts whenever you want. You can also store the ganache in the freezer for up to 2 weeks. The dough can stay for 1 month.