{2} Speculaaskruiden

If you’re going to make festive biscuits, you need to get spicy!

Hence the second part of the “Twelve Goodies of Christmas” is a traditional spice mixture from the Netherlands.

Last year, I made a batch of German Lebkuchengewürz. Rather than trying more of the same, this year I’ve taken some inspiration from further west, and made a batch of Dutch speculaaskruiden (speck-oo-lass-krau-den).

My last mixture served me well over the past year, in everything from biscuits to fruit pies and compotes. So if you’re a little apprehensive about making a batch of mixed spice on the basis you won’t use it all, don’t worry. A little pinch of these sort of mixtures will add a lovely gingerbread flavour in place of plain old cinnamon.

I know that you would not normally arrange spices on neat little paper squares, but I found it quite interesting to see how the colours of each spice vary, and as you work with each, the different aromas will fill your kitchen with the most wonderful warm, woody smells. The warmth of cinnamon and ginger, pungent cloves, fresh cardamom and coriander and aromatic nutmeg, star anise and mace.

In making this, I used ground spices for a number of the ingredients – I’ve tried to grind cloves before, but they are tough little fellows, so you end up using a coffee grinder, and frankly – you’ll never get rid of the smell! Fine if you happen to like spiced coffee, but I don’t. So for the really tough ones, I buy pre-ground. However, I did grind some of them myself – the cardamom seeds were tackled with a mortar and pestle, while the nutmeg and star anise got the grater treatment. Just be sure to pass them through a very fine sieve, so you get rid of any woody bits of spice.

What you will notice when you compare the Dutch and German recipes is that they use many of the same basic spices – cinnamon, cloves, ginger and nutmeg – but in different proportions. And just as with so many spice mixtures, there are dozens of recipes and many people have their own ways of making them. So treat the list below as a guide, and adjust the amounts as per your preferences. For the authentic flavour, you need to add the cinnamon, cloves, mace and ginger, but add or omit anything else that takes your fancy.

Now, the big question – what to make with this mixture?

Well, speculaaskruiden is the typical flavour in a number of biscuits – speculaas in the Netherlands, speculoos in Belgium and Spekulatius in Germany. As the names suggest, these are similar types of biscuit – they’re crisp, buttery, sometimes with almonds, and with lots of spice. While they are eaten all year round, they do tasty particularly festive.

That, or add it to cakes, muffins, carrot cakes, crumbles, compotes…whatever your imagination can come up with!

To make speculaaskruiden:

• 7 teaspoons ground cinnamon(*)
• 2 teaspoons ground cloves(*)
• 2 teaspoons ground mace(*)
• 2 teaspoons ground ginger(*)
• 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
• 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
• 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
• 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
• 1/2 teaspoon ground anise seeds or star anise

(*) These are essential. The other spices are entirely optional

Put everything in a bowl. Mix well – that’s it! Store in an airtight jar in a cool, dark place.

Worth making? This mixture is fantastic – different notes come out from the different spices, and adds a pleasant spicy note to many recipes. If you’ve got this to hand, it makes for an easy way to add a rounded spiced flavour to just about anything. Really recommended.

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18 Comments

Filed under Christmas, Recipe

18 responses to “{2} Speculaaskruiden

  1. Your spices on paper pictures are gorgeous – laid out like that they look almost too good to mix them up! I will definitely try this spice mix.

    • Thanks! You know, I thought the same thing as I was making this! Let me know how your version works out and if you make any tweaks. There is a variant in the Netherlands called “koekkruiden”, which is similar but without the cloves, so if you’re not keen on that flavour, you can miss it out and still have something very authentic.

  2. The image is spectacular! Loved the post as well. When you have the time, do drop by my space. I’d love to hear from you!

  3. I really love your pictures, particularly the fourth one :-) I’m definitely going to try out this spice mix (and the Lebkuchengewürz too!) And I love your blog ;-)

  4. A batch of this would make a lovely Christmas gift – maybe layered in a clear narrow jar to show off the colors, with a tag listing all the different ways it can be used. Thanks for the inspiration :)

  5. Saskia Cohen

    Great post, at home in Holland (mind you, not further east than Germany) we use these speculaaskruiden to spice up our whole wheat pepernoten, basically very small one-bite biscuits, traditionally eaten on the evening of Sinterklaas, a traditional feast in honor of Saint Nicholas day.

  6. I’ve given homemade spice blends as gifts but they’ve always been savory. Great idea to make a sweet blend! I made my own pumpkin pie spice last autumn, and never plan to buy it again. So fresh and spicy, it was a great addition to steel cut oats and sprinkled atop lattes — two things I plan to do with this!

    Cheers,

    *Heather*

    • Hi Heather – I love both the sweet mixes and the savoury! I made an Egyptian seed, nut and spice mixture called dukkah a couple of months ago, and it is DELICIOUS on cheeses, salads, dips etc. Once you make these things yourself, the store bought versions are never quite the same (exception those little shops you see on holiday in Italy selling v expensive but v lovely things!!!!). Sounds like you use your pumpkin spice mixture like I use mine – in biscuits, in compotes, in chocolate cake…

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  8. Like your idea of laying out the spices on little pieces of baking parchment!
    I did a post on speculaasjes en the spice mix, too (http://www.growntocook.com/?p=313). My spice mix did not include mace, but I like it, so may try it next year.

    • Hello! Glad you liked the spices. It’s not what I would usually do when making a spice mixture, but I thought it was so interesting to see the different colours and textures of the spices in the mixture.

      I also loved your pictures of the speculaas – beautiful!

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  12. Darryn

    This is the best spice mix Ive ever used! I use it in place of similar spice mixes (such as apple or pumpkin pie spice). The only change I made was to use cassia buds in place of cinnamon. Gives a great floral fragrance to the spice!

    • Hi Darryn – glad you like this spice mixture. I think mixes are the way forward – they have more complexity than using just cinnamon, or just nutmeg.

      Nice tip about the cassia buds – never seen them before, but will keep an eye open for them.

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