Saturday, 8 November 2014

Speculaas Spiced Shortbread Biscuits

Recently I went on an adventure to London for the BBC Good Food Bakes & Cakes Show. I had a fantastic time and thought that for a Yorkshire lass who doesn't get chance to travel far very often I did London like a pro. The only thing that made me look like a tourist was the tube. Let's save that story for another day. This is the time to talk about shortbread.
Speculaas Spiced Shortbread made using the historical traditional Dutch spice blend. AKA speculoos biscuits.
While at the show I managed to buy lots of lovely bits and pieces at really good prices including a total of 230 cupcake cases. Then the first thing I baked inspired by my adventure didn't need a single one of them. What?! They will keep! The galette was worth it. Also while I was there I wandered over to a little stall which turned out to be run by none other than Steven Dotsch from the Speculaas Spice Company. Surely you've heard of speculaas spices, otherwise known as speculoos, which can also take the form of Biscoff spread, cookie butter or Lotus spread. It's ever so popular and makes a fantastic quick icing but has absolutely zilch on the real deal which is this spice mix. 
Speculaas Spiced Shortbread made using the historical traditional Dutch spice blend. AKA speculoos biscuits.
For those who dodn't know, speculaas spice isn't just cinnamon. It's a mixture of spices and different recipes will give you a different blend. The beauty of buying it ready prepared in this mix though is that the hard work of investingating the best combination has already been done for you. It has even stood the test of time, this blend being a secret recipe of nine spices, passed down through the generations. Taken directly from the Speculaas Spice Company website "the vandotsch speculaas spice mix of nine organic spices delivers deliciously warm, sweet and spicy ‘layers’ of taste taking any simple cinnamon taste to another level."
Speculaas Spiced Shortbread made using the historical traditional Dutch spice blend. AKA speculoos biscuits.
That's no joke either. I decided to make shortbread with the little packet of spice magic I picked up after mentioning I was a blogger. I wanted something classical and simple to really show off the spice blend and this seemed the thing over the other options swirling through my head. I was right. Butter and a brown sugar combine in a little elegant treat that will sit comfortably on your saucer edge waiting for the moment when it can melt into submission, releasing it's warming beauty onto your senses. Hints of cinnamon, ginger and cloves amalgamate with other heady flavours, possibly nutmeg, cardamom and...pepper? I've read a few speculative ideas but Steven is keeping quiet on the subject. The mystery is part of the charm.
Speculaas Spiced Shortbread made using the historical traditional Dutch spice blend. AKA speculoos biscuits.
 It was a pleasure to meet Steven and equally a pleasure was baking with such a traditional spice blend. I've made many a shortbread before right from a twist on the classic in the form of chocolate fingers, through a fruity apricot and walnut version, to the master of indulgence Millionaire's shortbread. I've even iced a ginger shortbread and experimented with brown sugar which I again used this time to add a caramel undertone. Never though have I combined two heritages - the historical spice blend of the Netherlands and the sweet simplicity of much loved Scottish shortbread. I was beaming when I got my hands on the spices - I hghly recommend them to all. Oh, and that bossy biscuit cutter? Another find at the show. I couldn't resist.

Speculaas Spiced Shortbread Biscuits

Makes up to 20 biscuits depending on size
Buttery sweetly spiced classic shortbread biscuits made using the traditonal Dutch speculaas spice mixed, passed down through the generations.








Ingredients
  • 4oz butter, really soft but not melted
  • 2oz dark orlight soft brown sugar
  • 5oz plain flour
  • 1oz cornflour, semolina, rice flour OR ground rice
  • 1 scant tbsp Speculaas spice mix
Instructions
1. Set the oven to 180 C/160 C fan and line a baking sheet with baking paper.  

2. Beat the butter with an electric mixer until really soft then beat in the sugar until well combined, but not fluffy like for a cake. Sift in the flour, cornflour/semolina/rice flour/ground rice and the spices. When evenly combined bring together into a soft ball by hand.

3. Dust a work surface or sheet of baking paper with a little flour and roll out to a few mm thick. Use your favourite cutter to cut out biscuits, recombining the trimming to roll out and cut more biscuits. Arrange on thr tray with enough of a gap to allow for slight spreading. Alternatively press the mixture into a greased 7" round cake tin and mark into triangles.

4. Bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 mins (35-40 mins at 170 C/150 C fan for the cake tin shortbread) until the biscuits are dry to the touch and very slightly golden brown but still pale. 

5. Cool on the tray for five minutes then remove and finish cooling on a wire rack. Allow the circular shortbread to cool in the tin as this will be more prone to breaking.

I'm linking this to my own Biscuit Barrel challenge this month where I've set the theme as Winter Warmers. I enjoyed these with a hot drink each time and the spices themselves are perfectly warming. I'm also sending them off to Treat Petite, this month hosted by Cakeyboi Stuart, alternatively with Kat, the Baking Explorer. I took these home for my mum instead of sharing them at uni because my mum always deserves something she will enjoy as a big Thank You. Karen at Lavender and Lovage has set the theme for Cooking with Herbs as Sugar and Spice and speculaas is a classic sweet spice mix. Finally, I'm sharing them with Helen at Casa Costello for her Bake of the Week.

32 comments:

  1. 230 cupcake cases!! Very impressive.

    I love how homely these look, perfect with a big cup of tea on a cold day. I must admit that I'm not a fan of Biscoff spread as I find the oily/gritty texture too weird to handle (same with peanut butter) but I love the spiced flavour so I can definitely get on board with buying a spice mix to use in baked goods.

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    Replies
    1. I've finally made a start on those new cases ;) I know what you mean about the Biscoff spread - I think it's an acquired taste. Though I'm a full on peanut butter addict I will admit. I think the spice mi is more versatile too, and more true to flavour.

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  2. I LOVE the stamp! But as if an excuse is needed to tuck right in...

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    1. I totally agree. Put a biscuit tin in front of me and I'm in it.

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  3. What a great idea to add the speculaas to a shortbread...now, where did I put the remainder of my speculaas?

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    Replies
    1. I've seen your speculaas recipe and really liked it too!

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  4. These look amazing!! Love the stamp you used! Pinned

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  5. These biscuits are looking fantastic!!
    I wish we had here Speculaas spice mix (but we only have the spread, which I happened to love!)

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    Replies
    1. You could easily order some! It is so worth it =)

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  6. Such pretty biscuits! I love that stamp and I am totally in love with speculaas spice mix - it's gone into a lot of my bakes. Love the teacup and really wish I could have a few of these shortbreads with my tea.

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    1. The mix gives such a brilliant flavour doesn't it?! I wonder what it would be like in a hot chocolate. Hmmmmmm.

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  7. Great biscuit cutter! Nothing beats a good melt in the mouth shortbread, but the use of speculaas spice here is a great addition. I could happily munch through a whole pile of them!

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    Replies
    1. I think my mum thought the same. She took the box to work with her ;)

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  8. These biscuits look delicious! I have some Biscuit Butter, similar to the Biscoff spread, I wonder if I could use it in biscuits too? worth a try! :)

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  9. Mmmm these would go perfectly with my 11 o'clock cuppa! Thanks loads for joining in with #Bakeoftheweek - New Linky and roundup now open x

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    1. Oooo, I'll pop over and have a look =)

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  10. I love these cookies! They look so delicious! I love the "EAT ME" :D

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    1. When I saw that cutter I had to have it! It reminded me of Alice in Wonderland as I always loved the little cakes and biscuits that said 'eat me'!

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  11. I'm very intrigues by this spice mix, it sounds wonderful as do these shortbread. Thanks for linking up to Sweet and Savoury Sunday, stop by and link up again. Have a great day!!

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    1. I love that I don't have to find out and measure out all the different components. So worth it.

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  12. I've used Mr Dotsch's Speculaas too. It is good stuff isn't it? Thanks for entering into Treat Petite.

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    1. It really is. I'm so pleased I found their stall.

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  13. what a fabulous biscuit - speculoos (as they are here in France) are really popular. I love their spicy flavour and just love the stamp on your biscuit too. Will have to try and find some spice mix. I love quatre epices too - which is similar. I will have to try your recipe soon - perfect for the festive season.

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    Replies
    1. I hope you can find some spice mix so you can try them soon! Or just use your favourite spices, they'll still be lovely =)

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  14. Hi Laura, I didn't even know there was a spice mix. These biscuits look so good and remind me of England for some reason. We lived in Lytham/St. Anne for a year for my husband's work and we had the best time ever over there. I am a horrible baker but these look so good I might just have to try them. I'm pinning for those days when I'm craving my biscuits.

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    1. Oh I do hope you do try them. You can of course use whichever spices you like and make them your own. Please believe in yourself and that you are NOT a horrible baker - it's all about confidence. Keep trying and you will get better. Trust me! And it's the complete truth that if something really does go wrong then the evidence is usually almost always edible! I made a cake at the weekend which didn't rise at all but tasted lovely so it wasn't a loss really. Good luck!

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  15. Hi Laura, it's Steven from The Speculaas Spice Company here. I am afraid your recipe has only now come to my attention as a result of a follower of yours having read about it on your excellent blog and subsequently purchased several packs of vandotsch speculaas spice mix.

    I would be interested in adding your shortbread recipe at http://www.speculaas.co.uk - our dedicated speculaas spice recipe website.

    What do you think?

    All the best

    Steven Dotsch
    The Speculaas Spice Master Chef
    The Speculaas Spice Company Ltd
    http://www.speculaasspice.co.uk/
    https://twitter.com/vanDotschSpices

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