Buckwheat Speculoos Cookies Recipe

If you keep an eye on my Favorites of the Month posts, which naturally I recommend you do, you may remember me featuring some organic and gluten-free cookies made in Belgium by a small company named Generous: a friend had kindly refered them to me, and they had offered to send samples my way.

I was impressed by the delicate, sandy texture they managed to create for their sablés — not so easy with gluten-free baked goods — and I love that they chose to use buckwheat flour, and embrace its bold flavor.

The simpler-shaped cookies had just as much snap and flavor as their more ornate counterparts.

The buckwheat notes work especially well in their speculoos, an emblematic spice cookie that is typically baked in the north of France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and parts of Germany. But the popularity of the speculoos has vastly outgrown these borders, and it is hugely popular all over France now, where it is often slipped on the saucer of espresso cups in cafés and restaurants (and often much needed to make the acrid coffee palatable).

When I saw how quickly that sleeve of buckwheat speculoos was inhaled in my household, I was inspired to revisit my own speculoos recipe, substituting buckwheat flour for half of the wheat flour (and decreasing the amount of sugar a little bit while I was at it).

I also took this opportunity to use the special speculoos molds that friends of mine brought me back from Alsace some time ago: before speculoos became a year-round treat, they were traditionally made during the Advent and given seasonal shapes — in my case, a crane and a Saint-Nicholas figure — by pressing the dough into finely carved wooden molds.

Buckwheat Speculoos -- Dusted molds

I confess I was a little sceptical about these: how could the dough possibly take on such an intricate shape, unmold without tears, and bake without all the details getting fudged? But I was amazed to see that, with proper flouring and no leavening agent in the dough (which my recipe didn’t call for anyway) all three bases were covered effortlessly.

I was intent on using these pretty molds, especially as I thought it might amuse my two-year-old to nibble on an oiseau and a monsieur (it did), but once I’d convinced myself that it worked and that the cookies were pretty indeed, I reverted to the much quicker slice-and-bake method.

Luckily, these simpler-shaped cookies had just as much snap and flavor as their more ornate counterparts.

Speculoos are lovely with a cup of tea or coffee — dipping is allowed, and even encouraged — but they are also the perfect companions to a fruit salad, or a compote of stewed or roasted fruit. They are also the cookie crust component of choice for French bakers who want to make cheesecake — no graham crackers in supermarkets this side of the Atlantic — and they make a pretty spectacular ice cream, too.

Buckwheat Speculoos -- Molded, post-baking

Buckwheat Speculoos Cookies Recipe

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 12 minutes

Total Time: 42 minutes

Makes 100 speculoos.

Buckwheat Speculoos Cookies Recipe

Ingredients

  • 250 grams (1 1/4 cups) unrefined sugar with flavor, ideally beet sugar (French vergeoise or Belgian cassonade); I used 50 grams (1/4 cup) muscovado sugar and 200 grams (1 cup) of my standard blond unrefined sugar
  • 150 grams (1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 large egg
  • 250 grams (8 3/4 ounces, about 2 scant cups; see note) all-purpose flour
  • 250 grams (8 3/4 ounces, about 2 scant cups; see note) buckwheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons speculoos spice mix (mine is from the wonderful Épicerie de Bruno and contains Ceylan cinnamon, aniseed, star anise, ginger, mace, coriander, and allspice) or pumpkin pie spice mix
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

Instructions

  1. In the bowl of a mixer or working by hand, cream together the sugar and butter. Add the egg, and mix again.
  2. Buckwheat Speculoos -- Dough 1
  3. Add in the flours, spices, and salt (if you're using an open mixer such as a KitchenAid, fold them in with a spatula first so they don't go flying everywhere), and mix just until the dough comes together, without overmixing. If you find the dough is too dry to come together, add a little milk or water, tablespoon by tablespoon, until it does.
  4. Buckwheat Speculoos -- Dough 2
    If you're making slice-and-bake speculoos:
  5. Turn the dough out on the counter and divide it in two. Roll each half of the dough into a log, then pat it on opposing sides so the section becomes rectangular. Each log should be about 20 cm (4 inches) in length, 5 cm (2 inches) in width, and 2.5 cm (1 inch) in height.
  6. Buckwheat Speculoos -- Logs
  7. Wrap separately in plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight.
  8. Preheat the oven to 180°C (360°F) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
  9. Slice the prepared logs into 3-mm (1/10-inch) slices, and transfer to the prepared baking sheet; they won't expand much in the baking.
  10. Buckwheat Speculoos -- Sliced log
  11. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the speculoos start to brown around the edges.
  12. Transfer to a rack to cool completely.
  13. If you're using speculoos molds:
  14. Preheat the oven to 180°C (360°F) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicon baking mat.
  15. Sprinkle a little flour into each mold, and shake lightly to encourage the flour to enter every crevice of the pattern. Flip the mold over a bowl (so you can reuse the flour) and tap the back of the mold to remove excess flour.
  16. Buckwheat Speculoos -- Dusted molds
  17. Take a piece of the dough and press it into the mold, keeping the shape of the pattern in mind to make sure you pack the dough well into every part. Don't worry about it being pretty at this point; it won't be.
  18. Buckwheat Speculoos -- Filled molds
  19. Run a thin knife blade flat along the surface of the mold -- sharp edge toward the dough and away from you -- to slice off the excess dough. If your molds are not very deep, you may need to keep your hand gently pressed over the dough to prevent it from following along as the blade works its way through. If your molds have pointy details (such as the beak and wing tips of my stork), it works best if the knife pushes "into them" (i.e. from top of stork head toward tip of beak), rather than against them.
  20. Buckwheat Speculoos -- Scraped molds
  21. Invert the mold onto the prepared baking sheet, and tap it firmly against the sheet to dislodge the dough; if you've floured the molds properly, the dough will pop right out. If not, tap again, or nudge it out with the tip of the knife. If it still doesn't unmold, remove the dough and start over.
  22. Buckwheat Speculoos -- Molded, pre-baking
  23. Once you've filled the baking sheet, insert it into the oven and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the speculoos start to brown around the edges.
  24. Transfer to a rack to cool completely.

Notes

Measuring by volume yields notoriously unreliable results, especially with flour. For the amounts called for in this recipe, I strongly recommend you use a kitchen scale to measure.

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Buckwheat Speculoos

  • http://lickandspoon.wordpress.com Ella

    Such cute moulds, and the speculoos turned out beautifully. Milan is a lucky boy indeed! I would love to find some similar moulds :)

  • Pam Barone

    Speculaas is a favorite cookie of mine. I never heard them called speculoos before but its a cute name.

  • Lindsey Farr

    Beautiful! I am jealous of your speculoos cookie molds! My husband and I inhaled speculoos cookies in Paris on our honeymoon and I have been itching to make them ever since! Yours sound delicious!

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com/ Clotilde Dusoulier

      I hope you give these a try, they’re so easy and so good!

  • Diana

    Speculaas are typically made with rye flour, unrefined sugar and speculaas spice mix (cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cardamom. and white pepper – other mixes exist) and are typically Dutch (as in, from The Netherlands). Historically Speculoos was born in Belgium, where the spices were too expensive and it cassonade and only cinnamon were used to get a similar (way less complex) flavour.

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com/ Clotilde Dusoulier

      Thanks for these additional details, Diana! It reminds me of how gianduja was invented, using (plentiful) hazelnuts when chocolate got rarer and more expensive.

  • sillygirl

    Wonder what to substitute for the all-purpose flour to make them gluten-free – maybe rice flour? I’m taking a gluten-free dessert to an Easter dinner. I’m doing an apple tart with rice flour – these might be fun to take too – two gluten-intolerant guests there but I bet others would eat cookies too.

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com/ Clotilde Dusoulier

      Rice flour is certainly worth a try. In the Generous cookies, they use potato starch, and apparently they use less than buckwheat flour (it’s listed further down in the ingredients list) but I don’t have experience using it as a flour substitute, so I can’t offer specific advice. Will you report back on your experiments? Happy Easter!

      • sillygirl

        I sure will – I love buckwheat so I’ll probably keep that the same amount. The rice flour should be bland enough to not change the flavor.

        • sillygirl

          They just came out of the oven – love the texture – maybe even more than the little ones you can get individually wrapped. I would say they are a little different cookie than those with the same taste – made them in little slices. I used rice flour instead of the whole wheat – otherwise the recipe is the same. They don’t taste like some “less than” cookie – no one would think they were gluten free.

          • sillygirl

            Everyone loved the cookies! The best thing – I told the gluten-free guy to take the rest home and he didn’t hesitate!!!

          • http://chocolateandzucchini.com/ Clotilde Dusoulier

            Fantastic — thank you!

          • http://chocolateandzucchini.com/ Clotilde Dusoulier

            Thanks so much for reporting back — good to know about the rice flour!

  • SallyBR

    haven’t commented in a looooong time, but speculoos and me are a pair made in Nirvana. I simply adore them. I have a ceramic mold which I used in the past, but it was… let me see…. how should I put it? I complete disaster. I think I will go for free-shaped cookies, I am not at all as talented as you! I think I have buckwheat flour in the freezer, so all systems go! great post!

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com/ Clotilde Dusoulier

      Oh, I didn’t know there were ceramic molds for speculoos — I would not feel comfortable slamming them against the baking sheet to unmold, as you sometimes need to do with the wooden ones.

      Do report back if you try this!

      • Diana

        Another problem of ceramic mould is that not being porous, the flour won’t stick to it, while the dough will.

        • http://chocolateandzucchini.com/ Clotilde Dusoulier

          Thanks for sharing that explanation, Diana.

      • SallyBR

        They are definitely not the authentic way to do speculoos – but I did not have wooden molds, and decided to improvise. If you don’t mind me including a link to my blog, you can see what the ceramic ones look like. I think Diana is right, their problem is not being porous…

        http://bewitchingkitchen.com/tag/speculaas/

        • http://chocolateandzucchini.com/ Clotilde Dusoulier

          Thanks for the link — it’s a pity the ceramic molds don’t work better, because they look quite lovely!

  • disqus_1dhS4zhgmh

    Hi Clotilde,

    I come from Ghent (East-Flanders – and definitely worth the visit, being only 2 and 1/2h away from Paris!) and am taking professional cooking classes; in those classes we have recently tried our hands on a few different types of speculoos dough (amongst others, the famous Brussels Dandoy cookie dough), and they all had one thing in common : they all needed a rest of at least 24 h. Kind of like the old NY Times recipe for the “best” chocolate chip cookie :)

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com/ Clotilde Dusoulier

      That’s a great suggestion, thank you. I actually did that with mine unintentionally — baked the molded batch on the first day, and the slice-and-bake cookies the next.

    • Tyymex

      Did you succeed getting the same taste of the Dandoy speculoos? I tried so many times but can’t bake speculoos that smells and taste as good as theirs. I guess they add a secret ingredient to their dough and not only spices. I totally agree about the rest time, letting the dough in the fridge for at least 24 improves the taste and texture.

  • http://www.friv3gaming.com/ Friv 3

    just see it as I wanted to enjoy it

  • http://www.stitchesandsnps.blogspot.com EllenQ

    You posted this recipe on my birthday and it was a great present! I love speculoos cookies but have never tried to make them myself for some reason. They are in my oven now and smell heavenly!

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com/ Clotilde Dusoulier

      Happy belated birthday, and I hope you like the cookies, Ellen!

  • disqus_0SKA1gOdaS

    By the end of the recipe I had a big bowl of crumbs!! How come ingredients vary so much?! Anyway I added one more egg…then another…and now it LOOKS like the perfect dough, snoozing in the fridge. Not sure I can wait 24 hours but I’ll sit on my hands a little while longer! Step 2 report to follow.

    • disqus_0SKA1gOdaS

      Step 2: I made it to 4.5 hrs snooze time and it seems no number of extra eggs shall wither the snappy goodness of the recipe. They’re yummy! Thanks Clotilde

      • http://chocolateandzucchini.com/ Clotilde Dusoulier

        They look perfect, thanks for sharing the picture!

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com/ Clotilde Dusoulier

      Thanks for reporting back! Did you use the weight measurement for the flour? I’m glad it turned out well in the end!

      • disqus_0SKA1gOdaS

        Yes for once I was quite careful :) maybe my buckwheat flour is more absorbent than yours, or smaller eggs, or who knows??! Any tips on how you slice-n-baked such symmetrical, straight shapes?

        • http://chocolateandzucchini.com/ Clotilde Dusoulier

          I tried to make my “logs” as straight-sided and pointy-angled as possible, and used my very sharp knife (pictured) to slice it. Is either of those tips helpful?

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