The speculoos spice mix is a blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, white pepper, cardamom and star anise. I've seen a couple of other recipes and the one thing they have in common is that cinnamon is the dominant spice whilst the other spices can be adjusted to suit personal tastes. There are range of savoury and sweet dishes in the book using the spice mix, I've tried one recipe for a savoury carrot and parsnip crumble, using crushed speculoos biscuits, and it worked really well although I forgot to take photos. I've also made the biscuits although I didn't think they were quite spicy enough so I used a higher proportion of spice mix for this shortbread recipe. I do like the fact that dark brown sugar is used in both the original recipe and my adaptation as I think it makes the biscuits taste more indulgent as the sugar adds an extra depth of flavour. I have to confesss that I am now completely hooked on this combination of spices and it will probably be appearing in a few recipes in the future. I've already experimented by trying it in chocolate cake and fruit cake with good results, again no photos as they've been eaten too quickly. They are both recipes that will be tweaked before ending up on here at some point though. I'm also going try out some more of the savoury recipes from the book including poulet farci en cocotte quetsches et spéculoos roughly translated as stuffed chicken casserole with plums and speculoos, saumon poché au lait créme de spéculoos salmon poached in milk with speculoos cream, and papillote de cabillaud beurre de spéculoos aux cranberries cod cooked in paper with cranberry speculoos butter. It might take me a while to get round to making these but I will report back on my efforts eventually.
For the spice mix I adapted the quantities slightly as the French convention is to measure ingredients using coffee spoons and soup spoons, both of which are slightly smaller than UK teaspoon and tablespoon measures. I've used the standard 5ml teaspoon and 15ml tablespoon measures here so the spices are still in the same proportions. This recipe will yield just under 4 tablespoons of the spice mix. If you have trouble finding some of the spices in the shops they can be bought online, I quite often buy spices via various merchants on ebay, usually whoever has the best price and the cheapest postage.
Speculoos spice mix
2 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground white pepper
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp ground star anise
Mix all the spices together in a bowl, enjoy the heady aroma and then pour into a clean glass jar.
Speculoos shortbread - makes 12 + depending on cutter size, I used a medium size butterfly cutter.
150g plain flour
50g soft dark brown sugar
2 tsp speculoos spice mix
Preheat the oven to 180C and line a baking tray. Put all of the ingredients in a food processor on medium speed and process until clumps of dough start to form. Turn off the machine and bring the rest of the dough together by hand. Roll out on a lightly floured work surface to around 5mm thick and use cookie cutters in any shape you like to cut out biscuits and transfer them to the tray, they will be fragile so take care when handling. Bake for 12-15 minutes until lightly golden, leave to rest on the tray for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool.
I'm entering these into Made With Love Mondays and also into The Spice Trail challenge where the chosen spice is cinnamon.