Autumnal Speculaas Brownies

I really love brownies. And I really love experimenting with brownies. You can do so much with them! For example, I made these lemon and ginger brownies last year and they were delicious. So a few weeks back, when I was feeling all autumnal and stuff and the idea for these brownies popped into my head I was excited immediately. And boy, was I right to be.

THEY ARE SO GOOD.

I’ve used speculaas in quite a few of my recipes on this blog already, and I always feel a bit conflicted, since it’s a typically Dutch biscuit and I’ve got no clue if you can get them elsewhere (except for Belgium or Germany). I really really love speculaas, though, so I’m going to put up this recipe anyway, and provide a few alternatives in the list of ingredients! For example, if you’re in the UK, you could try using Ginger Nuts instead – it would be slightly different, but really tasty still, I think.

As for the rest of the recipe; it’s just like all of my other brownie recipes – very simple, just throw in the extra ingredients along the way, and you’ve got yourself a delicious brownie with a little twist.

P1050339 Continue reading

Advertisements

Speculaas Tiramisu

Tiramisu is rapidly becoming my go-to dessert when I need something easy but delicious for a group of people. There’s the classic tiramisu, but this strawberry and raspberry tiramisu is a great alternative if you don’t want to add cocoa or booze. Last week, however, I wanted something a little different than both of those.

I met up with a couple of my high school friends last weekend, and we’d agreed to all bring something to eat so the host wouldn’t have to slave away in the kitchen for hours. I was in charge of dessert (which I usually am) and decided to go for a tiramisu. I also felt like making something with speculaas, though, so I put the two together and made a speculaas tiramisu instead!

It still has one classic ladyfinger layer, but also sports a layer of speculaas biscuits, which turned out to be a great combination. I also used speculaas liqueur instead of coffee liqueur to soak the biscuits in, but did go for the usual espresso to mix it with. So, it’s still very similar to a regular tiramisu – I just upgraded it a little!

The speculaas really adds something to the flavours of the tiramisu, and it works together wonderfully. If you can’t get your hands on speculaas or speculaas liqueur where you live, I’ve listed an alternative that I suspect will work great as well (no guarantees, though)!

P1020895

Continue reading

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.

P1020640

Continue reading

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.

P1000636 Continue reading

“Kruidnoten” — Spiced Nuts?

Sinterklaas

Sinterklaas

On the fifth of December the Dutch people celebrate their own gift giving holiday called Sinterklaas-avond (Saint Nicholas’ Eve). It’s quite similar to American Christmas: it involves a man with a beard and red clothes who gives gifts. In fact, the American Santa Claus is based on the Dutch Sinterklaas.

Sinterklaas lives in Spain and arrives in the Netherlands each year in mid-November to great delight of all young Dutch children. They then have to wait until the fifth of December, when a bag full of presents gets “delivered” by “Sinterklaas” to their house and they enjoy a nice evening of unpacking gifts, and reading the poems that come with those gifts.

Of course, such an evening isn’t complete without some traditional Sinterklaas related sweets.

There are a few of these, but I’m only going to talk about the most common Sinterklaas delicacy: kruidnoten. The literal translation of this is “spiced nuts”, but there’s nothing nutty about these delicious sweets, since they’re actually just tiny little cookies. However, for the sake of easy reference I’m just going to call them spiced nuts anyway.

You can already find them in every Dutch supermarket in August or September, which is slightly ridiculous. I’ve made a rule for myself that I can’t buy any spiced nuts before the first of November. Otherwise it’s like eating Easter eggs at Christmas. That’s just weird.

meandmymum

My mum and I this weekend

Anyway, when I was little my mother and I often made these kruidnoten during the holiday season. We never really baked much together during the rest of the year, so these afternoons always felt special to me. This year I thought it would be nice to do it again, since it had been a very long time. In fact, when we got out the spices for kruidnoten we found out they had passed their expiration date eleven years ago…

So, yes, it was indeed high time for us to give baking our favourite Sinterklaas baked goodie another go — with a freshly bought jar of spices, of course…

They turned out great (although slightly too big, but who cares) so I decided to share this delicious recipe with you. The different spices (lots of cinnamon!) give these tiny cookies lots of flavour, and I think they’re very much suitable as Christmas sweets as well, and they’re very easy to make, too!

kruidnoten1

You’ll need… (for one batch)

– 125 g soft butter

– 1-2 tablespoons of milk

– 85 g dark caster sugar

– 185 g plain flour

– half a teaspoon of baking powder

– 6 teaspoons of cinnamon

– 1 teaspoon of ground nutmeg

– 1/4 teaspoon of ground cloves

– 1 teaspoon of ground ginger

– parchment paper

– baking tray

– and an oven, of course! These cookies need to be baked at 175 °C (don’t forget to preheat your oven!)

Tip! If you live in the Netherlands you can make things a little easier for yourself by using “Speculaas en Koekkruiden” (available at the supermarket) instead of the cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger. If you choose to do this you’ll need 1 tablespoon of the “Speculaas en Koekkruiden” to replace the other spices.

So, let’s get baking!

1. Mix the wet ingredients together This recipe only has a few simple steps! First, you need to put the butter, milk and caster sugar together in a bowl and mix it with an electric whisk until it’s nice and smooth.

2. Add the dry ingredients Now you need to add the flour, baking powder and all of the spices, and mix it together again. Once it’s nicely mixed, knead it a little bit with your hands to make it into a nice dough.

kruidnotenbeforeoven3. Make little balls of dough and put them on the tray And that’s all you need to do to make your dough! Next up, line your baking tray with parchment paper. Then all that’s left to do is make little balls of the dough and put them on the baking tray; the balls need to be about the size of a marble, but it’s okay to make them a bit bigger. Ours were bigger as well, as you can see on the photo on the right. They turned out lovely — but a bit too large for a traditional “spiced nut”.

4. Bake! Once you’ve put all the balls on the tray, press them down a little bit, so that they’re not entirely round. Now, put them in your preheated oven and bake them for 15-20 minutes. They’re not completely hard when you take them out of the oven — they stiffen a bit while cooling down.

And there you have it: your own batch of kruidnoten! I hope you give it a go because these bad boys are really delicious!

kruidnoten2