Filled speculaas is a Dutch pastry consisting of a spiced cookie dough, filled with almond paste and then oven baked. People eat it around the birthday of Saint Nicholas, an early Christian bishop who is still today celebrated for his generosity and kindness. Many children in The Netherlands and Flanders will receive a present on the eve of his birthday, still today. The spices have their origin in the days of the spice trade. We use home made almond paste and the recipe you can find here.
the art of making filled speculaas
Making this delicious pastry, that gains in flavor a few days after it has been baked, is quite easy. Key is you grind the freshly ground spices and make the almond paste yourself. When you grind the spices yourself, the taste of the pastry will enhance. The pastry will not get old so easily and can be enjoyed for weeks after it has been baked, provided you store the pastry in a cool place. Many will still eat it around Christmas, which makes this a truly December favorite.
- spice grinder (mortar and pestle)
- 1 tbsp cinnamon amounts are in ground form
- 1.5 tsp nutmeg amounts are in ground form
- 1 tsp cloves amounts are in ground form
- 1 tsp star anise amounts are in ground form
- 1 tsp dried ginger amounts are in ground form
- 1 tsp white pepper amounts are in ground form
- 1 tsp cardamom amounts are in ground form
- 1 tsp coriander seeds amounts are in ground form
- 18 oz (500 g) cake flour
- 10 oz (280 g) brown sugar
- 1.5 tsp baking soda or baking powder
- 12.5 oz (350 g) cold butter
- 3 tbsp speculaas spices (mixture see above)
- 6 tbsp milk
- a pinch of salt
- 21 oz (600 g) almond paste
- 1 egg
- 1 lemon
- 40 almonds to cover the pastry
grinding the spices
- In a mortar and pestle, grind each if the spices. Nutmeg and cinnamon are best grated. Star anice and cloves are most easlily ground in the grinder compartment of an immersion blender or kirchen machine grinder
making the dough
- In a bowl, mix the sugar, baking soda/powder, flour, spices and salt
- Mix the butter with two knives (slicing) in the powdery mixture, until a crumbly mixture starts to appear
- Then add the milk and knead the mixture in a smooth large ball
- Wrap the dough in plastic foil and let it rest overnight in the refrigerator
making the filling
- Mix the almond past with an egg and the grated peel of 1 lemon and fold it repeatedly, so it becomes more pliable.
finalizing the pastry
- Take the refrigerated dough from the refrigeratorand let come to room temperature for 1 hr
- Heat the oven to 325 F (170 C )
- Divide the dough in two equal parts and roll out each part to a roughly 8 inch by 12 inch size (20 x 30 cm).
- Cover an oven tray with parchment paper
- Place one piece of dough on the paper.
- Then cover with the almond paste, keep a half inch from the rim uncovered
- Place the other half of the dough on top and press the rims tight
- Make with a sharp knife point straigh lines so that you make diamond shaped figures
- Place in each diamond an almond and press lightly into the dough
- Then whisk with a fork an egg yolk with some water
- Cover the pastry using a brush with the egg water mixture
- Bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes until the color is good
- Let it cool down, looselky covered with aluminim foil. The firmness will only be obtained after it has cooled down
- Slice in the diamond shape pieces
Method: oven baking Food allergy & intolerance information: egg, gluten, nuts
- There are many variations of the spices and their amounts that can be used. In the Netherlands you may find speculaas spices as a mixture available in stores in November. As mentioned I recommend to grind the spices yourself.
- When stored cool, filled speculaas will last for weeks.
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