Friday, December 24, 2010

Spekulatius or Speculaus

The Christmas Cookie Book, by Virginia Pasley, 1949

Yay, Christmas! One of my favorite holidays, thanks to the food! Cookies, eggnog, pies and cakes, hot toddies, chocolates… oooooh I’m drooling in preparation for tonight!

Since everything else tends to the rich side this time of year, I decided to do some lighter, yet still quite yummy, cookies. I actually had these cookies last year in a gift basket from a client – and this is one of the only times I have ever had something packaged that I was able, later, to find a printed recipe for! And this simple recipe is quite possibly even better than the ones I had from the package.

This book caught my eye originally because the author is a (excurse the expression!) dead ringer for my late grandmother. So much so, that looking at the photos actually disturbs me, and on top of the physical similarity (see photo!), they share the same name: Virginia. Naturally, I had to have it. What I like best about it is that, despite the age, she calls for things I can generally procure, which I think comes from the fact that she has included many “old world” or traditional European recipes that used basic ingredients. I did have to add corn starch to the regular flour to make cake flour, but everything else was quite standard. And tasty, give them a try – they are plain, almost biscuit-like. Perfect with coffee!

Spekulatius or Speculaus

½ cup butter
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 egg
Grated rind of half a lemon
1 tsp cinnaomon
½ tsp salt
2 ½ cups cake flour
½ tsp baking powder

Cream butter and sugar, add egg and continue beating. Then mix in grated rind and sifter dry ingredients. Chill for several hours before rolling out and cutting into fancy shapes. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.

Notes: The old German recipe for this cookie (which is believed to be of Dutch origin) called for an ounce of cinnamon for this much dough, typical of the heavy hand with spices of the old recipes. It also specified that the butter, sugar, flour and eggs be stirred all together at once, the dough stored overnight and the baking powder sprinkled over it and kneaded into the mixture the next day before rolling out.


  1. Thank you for the beautiful photo of my mother. She would be so proud to be published!

  2. Grammie was certainly beautiful, among many other attributes! :)