Spiced (Speculaas) Muffins with Almond Paste

Whenever autumn rolls around, I get the urge to bake delicious things with speculaas spices. Speculaas is a big favourite here in the Netherlands, and the speculaas and chocolate muffins I made last year became a huge success with my friends and family, and it’s still one of my favourite recipes.

This year, I decided to go for the classic Dutch combination of speculaas and almond: a muffin flavoured with some lovely spices, and a heart of almond paste. I added a splash of liqueur to liven things up a little, and some almond sprinkles on top and voilà, another mouthwateringly good muffin!

These really are delicious, and I think I will be making them a lot throughout the winter. If you want to make them too but are thinking “but Anne, I don’t know where to get speculaas spices!”, worry no more! These spices are simply a combination of cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and ginger, and I’ve provided the measurements below.


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Officially Autumn: Speculaas and Chocolate Muffins

Well, summer is definitely over now, so it seems… It’s starting to get dark much earlier, the leaves are changing and, most importantly, it’s getting cold. No more warm, sunny days, my friends. It’s back to warm jumpers and lots of tea. Which is fine by me, to be honest. I’m a sucker for a cosy jumper and, as most of you will know, I love tea. Yes, I really do love autumn, although I’d have been fine with a few more weeks of summer as well.

I came up with this recipe last week, while I was feeling all autumn-y, with the rain pouring down outside and me drinking the inevitable hot cup of tea inside. Autumn and also winter are the seasons for comfort food with rich tastes and lots of chocolate, so that’s exactly what these muffins are all about!

You’ve got your cinnamon, your nutmeg, your ginger and your cloves, or for the Dutchies among you: simply your speculaas. Add some chocolate to this bunch and the lovely texture of a good muffin, and you’ve got yourself this delicious treat. This is most definitely a new favourite recipe of mine, and I’m quite proud of my little masterpieces. I’m not even going to be modest about it. These muffins are amazing.

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Cherry Streusel Cake

My midterms are over! Especially this last week was quite stressful, with the deadline for my research paper on Friday. But I made it, and I’m quite pleased with how my essay turned out. Now it’s just waiting for the grade… I hate that part.

Anyway, now that the stress has subsided, I finally have time to bake again! And yesterday evening was the perfect occasion. My mother performed in a play yesterday, which she’d been talking about for weeks. It was her second time ever and she was really nervous, so I figured I’d surprise her with a nice baked treat! We had dinner together at my parents’ house, and when she left for rehearsals I quickly whipped up a cherry streusel cake before my father and I left for the theatre (or, well, community center) as well.

My Mum loved the surprise, and the cake itself as well. Oh, and if you were wondering; the performance of the play went well, too!

This morning we all had a slice of the cake together, and it tasted really good! Although I think it would have tasted better if the cherries had been a bit more sour (they were sweetened). My parents loved it, though, so that’s good. The cake was half gone before I could take any decent pictures!


You’ll need…

– 185 g light brown sugar

– 500 g plain flour

– 1,5 tablespoon of baking powder

– 185 g butter (in cubes, don’t melt it!)

– 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla flavouring

– 2 eggs

– around 550 g cherries (these can be either fresh or canned, I used canned ones, since it’s not yet the season for fresh cherries)

– 80 g flaked almonds

– springform tin (24 or 25 cm)

– parchment paper

– and an oven, of course — this cake needs to be baked at 200 °C (don’t forget to preheat your oven!)

So, let’s get baking!

1. Make the base First off, we need to make the base of the cake. Just place the sugar, flour, baking powder, cubed butter, vanilla flavouring and eggs together in a bowl, and then mix them together with an electric mixer (you need to use the dough hooks for this). Mix until rough crumbs are starting to form. You can also use your hands, especially when the butter is being obstinate and doesn’t want to mix properly with the rest of the ingredients, as was the case with my mixture.

2. Put the base in the springform tin Now, line the base of the springform tin with parchment paper, and grease the entire tin. Then put one third of the mixture for the base on the bottom of the tin, and divide it evenly over it. Take another third of the mixture, and press it to the side of the cake tin, to form the edge of the cake.

P10009003. Put in the cherries Next up, it’s time to put the cherries in! If you use canned cherries, like I did, you need to drain off the juice, and stone them if they still have stones in them (mine didn’t). If you use fresh cherries, wash them, stone them and remove the stalks. Now divide your cherries over the tin.


4. Divide rest of streusel mix and sprinkle almond flakes All that’s left now is the finishing touches: divide the rest of the streusel mix over the top of the cherries, and sprinkle the almond flakes over them. They’ll give a nice and crunchy effect!

5. Bake the cake! Put your cake into the preheated oven and bake for 20-25 minutes. Mine was done after 22 minutes, when the almonds started to turn a little too dark for my taste (they would’ve been black if I’d left them much longer). When your cake is done, take it out and let it cool on a wire rack before your remove the springform.

And there you have it, your own cherry streusel cake! It’s a really simple recipe and it’ll come in really handy when you need to quickly whip something up. You can replace the cherries with many other  fruits as well. Hope you enjoy!