Dutch Spced “Speculaas” Wreath Cookies are often the most popular cookie on my holiday dessert table. I do hope you’ll give them a try! Speculaas are Dutch spiced cookies in a wide variety of shapes, the most common of which are better known as windmill cookies. Whether you cut them into wreaths or windmills, these delightful cookies get their signature flavor from a spice blend called Speculaaskruiden. It’s easy to blend yourself (see recipe below). In a pinch you can substitute pumpkin pie spice mix, though the flavor will be slightly different.
Ingredients (makes about 36 wreath cookies)
1 cup real butter
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons Speculaaskruiden spice mix (see recipe, below)
For the icing:
2 tablespoons butter, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons milk
2 drops green food coloring
Green sugar crystals (for decorating)
Small cinnamon candies (for decorating)
Step 1) Cream together butter and brown sugar. Add egg and mix well.
Step 2) Add flour, baking powder, salt, and Speculaaskruiden. Mix by hand; dough will be stiff.
Step 3) Chill dough for at least one hour before rolling 1/4 inch thick on a floured surface. Cut dough into wreath shapes, and carefully transfer to cookie sheets lined with parchment paper.
Step 4) Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 12 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.
Step 5) While cookies are cooling, blend together butter, powdered sugar, and milk to make icing. Spoon 1/4 cup of icing into a plastic sandwich bag, and snip a tiny corner from the bag to make a homemade pastry bag. You should be able to easily squeeze icing from the bag and onto each cookie wreath, as shown above. If the icing is too thick, add a bit more milk. If the icing is too thin, add a bit more powdered sugar.
Step 6) After piping icing onto your cookie wreaths, sprinkle them with green sugar crystals. Place a cinnamon candy on each wreath. Beautiful!
Speculaaskruiden Spice Mix (makes enough for three batches of cookies)
Stir together (if using powdered spices) or grind together in a coffee grinder (if using whole spices):
4 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon mace
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1/2 teaspoon star anise
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon allspice
Store spice mix in a tightly sealed container and store away from heat and light.