Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Celebrating Sinterklaas with Speculaas #ChristmasCookies

This post is sponsored in conjunction with Christmas Cookies Week. 
I received product samples from sponsor companies to aid in the creation of the Christmas Cookies Week recipes. 
All opinions are mine alone.

Prizes + Giveaway
Here we are at day four of a fantastic event helmed by Ellen of Family Around the Table with help from Christie of A Kitchen Hoor's Adventures. These talented ladies are tireless and inspiring. They not only wrangled all of us foodie bloggers, but they lined up some amazing event sponsors who donated to us for recipe creation and also for prizes.

Go to my kick-off post to read about the prize packages and to enter the giveaway. Or you may enter at the bottom of this post.* You won't want to miss out. Seriously. Your holiday baking will be kicked up more than a few notches.

The Rest of the Cookie Tray

Celebrating Sinterklaas
For years we held D's birthday party for his friends the first weekend in December, to coincide with Sint-Niklaas Day...since his middle name is Niklaas...and to keep it distinct from Christmas. We celebrated as a family on his actual birthday - on December 23rd. And, many times, our family celebration included Dutch traditions.

Quick background: I lived in Holland for three years as a kid. I went to pre-school and kindergarten there. I spoke Dutch fluently; well, fluently for a five or six-year-old. And I thought that I really was Dutch. I lamented my black hair, brown eyes, and weird name; I wanted to look like my blond, blue-eyed friends. I swore to my mom that when I turned eighteen I was going to dye my hair and legally change my name to a Dutch name. Thankfully, that was a fleeting fancy. I am very happy with my dark looks and unusual name now.


But I still have my klompens and I still put carrots and celery in them for Sinter Klaas. And I still love, love, love, love, love my tulips. So, despite realizing that I am not Dutch, Dutch traditions still hold a dear place in my heart.

Me at Keukenhof Gardens circa 1977

My mom has had these wooden Speculaas molds since we lived in Holland; she has small ones, huge ones. Some are people, boats, and she even has a giant rooster. Mostly they have been hung on the walls as decorations. When I took them from her house, I tried various recipes to make my own speculaas cookies. And, over the years, none of the versions I tried were successful. Version 2018 still isn't exactly right, but they are passable and were devoured. So, I'm sharing them this year. I'll keep working on them for next year and, hopefully, create another version that's closer to what I am trying to achieve. But, I'll accept these as they (1) held their outside shape (as in didn't ooze and become blobs), (2) retained the detailing of the molds (as in didn't puff up unrecognizeably and become blobs), and (3) tasted fantastic.


Ingredients
  • 1 C butter
  • 1 C dark brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 C unsulphured molasses
  • 1/3 C honey
  • 6 C flour + more as needed
  • 1 C hazelnut flour (more traditional is almond flour, but I used that I had)
  • 2 T baking powder
  • 1 T ground ginger
  • 2 t ground cinnamon
  • 1 t ground nutmeg
  • 1 t ground cloves
  • 1/2 t ground white pepper
  • Also needed: speculaas molds or any other cookie cutters


Procedure
Melt the butter and whisk in the molasses, sugar, and eggs. Add dry ingredients and blend till you have a stiff dough. Split dough into quarters and roll into a ball. Wrap tightly with plastic and refrigerate for at least an hour. 


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, then shape your cookies. Break off a piece of dough that will fill your mold and press or roll the dough flat.


Carefully peel the cookies from the mold. The dough has a lot of butter in it, so it shouldn't stick too much. But, in case it is sticking, dust the mold with powdered sugar as needed.


Trim the excess dough from the cookies and place them on a parchment paper or silicone mat-lined baking sheet. Mine ended up being about 1/4" thick. Place the trays in the freezer for 20 to 30 minutes before baking.


Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20 to 30 minutes, depending on thickness.


Cool the cookies on the baking sheet for a minute or so before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat process with remaining dough. These will store, in an airtight container, for a week. But, honestly, ours have never lasted more than a day or two.


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Disclaimer: Thank you #ChristmasCookiesWeek sponsors: Adams Extract, Sprinkle Pop, YumGoggle and Silpat for providing the prizes free of charge. The #ChristmasCookiesWeek giveaway is open to U.S. residents, age 18 & up. All entries for the winner will be checked and verified. By entering you give the right to use your name and likeness. The number of entries received determines the odds of winning. Four (4) winners will be selected at random from entries recevied. The prize packages will be fulfilled by and sent directly from the giveaway sponsors. #ChristmasCookiesWeek bloggers are not responsible for the fulfillment or delivery of the prize packages. Bloggers hosting this giveaway and their immediate family members in their household are not eligible enter or win the giveaway. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited by law. This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter or any other social channel mentioned in the #ChristmasCookiesWeek posts or entry.

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