Speculaas is my favourite Dutch cookie noted for its crunchy texture and spicy festive flavour – I could eat them all year round, but traditionally they are made and gifted for the feast on the eve of Saint Nicholas Day which falls annually on the 5th December.

Formerly, the Speculaas dough would have been shaped by artfully carved wooden moulds, representing daily life themes in Holland, which is why the Latin meaning of Speculaas means mirror.

Nowadays, the most common design is the windmill, but from the eve of Saint Nicholas Day right up to Christmas, any nativity shape is used during this festive season.

For an extra crunch and flavour, almonds are either added to the dough or sprinkled on top before baking.

In Austria, I have seen gluten-free Speculaas sold at some supermarkets during this season, but if you prefer baking them yourself or you can’t find them in your country, this recipe is fantastic. After making several batches and getting a nod of approval from my Dutch husband, these Speculaas are guaranteed to bring some festive cheer and spice into your home.

Gluten-Free Speculaas Cookies
Ingredients:

 

  • 350g store-bought or homemade gluten-free plain flour
  • 110g brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon xanthan gum
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 2 teaspoon cinnamon powder
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg powder
  • ½ teaspoon cloves
  • 220g butter, in pieces and softened at room temperature
  • 4 tablespoons milk
  • 4 tablespoons slivered almonds to decorate

Step by Step Instructions

1. In a medium bowl, mix all the dry ingredients together.

2. Add the softened butter and mix well with a wooden spoon, pressing the butter into the dry ingredients.

3. Add one tablespoon of milk at a time to the mixture, mixing well until the dough starts to take shape and comes together. The dough should feel soft but not sticky.

4. Ideally, the dough should be left for several hours in the fridge to develop flavour, but if you are eager to get baking, then allow a minimum of 30 minutes rest before rolling out the dough.

5. Preheat the oven to 180 C/ 350 F.
6. Roll the dough out to 3cm thick and cut out each shape using your selected cookie cutter. I used a Christmas tree for this recipe. You may find it easier to roll out several smaller portions of dough rather than the entire dough.

7. Lay the Speculaas on a lined baking tray, 2cm apart from each other. They don’t spread while baking.

8. Add some almond pieces on top.

9. Bake for 20 minutes in the middle rack one tray at a time for even cooking.

10. Cool them on the tray for 10 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to completely cool down.

11. Store them in an airtight tin or glass jar. Avoid plastic containers as these make them soft.
Makes: 16-18 cookies using a medium size cutter

Sprinkle tapioca flour rather than gluten-free plain flour on your rolling pin and counter while rolling out the dough to prevent it from sticking and tasting too floury.