Sorry. Sorry. Sorry. Sorry. Sorry. Sorry. Sorry. Sorry. SORRY!
I'm sorry I've been away for so long. I'm sorry my banner still reads "november 2012". My computer met a tragic end about a month ago (which doesn't excuse the "november" bit, but gives you some perspective).
Cori and I were getting ready for a Christmas party at our house. I was working in the kitchen to get things ready, when I realized I needed something off the upper above the cabinets. Reaching up to get the heavy, large, ominous green cast iron pot, my fingers slipped and, consequently, so did the lid. And it fell right on my computer screen, which had been sitting on the counter. Not everyone keeps their computers on their counters, but occasionally I find the need to place it there. Recipes I find online do not get printed out, rather they get put on Pinterest or reworked and typed out here. And the recipe for punch I was using was all ready to go.
Until I killed my screen. With an iron pot lid. Killed it. Dead.
I think my first reaction was to throw up. And then cry. And then I went numb before anything could actually happen. Except the show must go on, and so we pushed forward with the party.
This is why, friends, I have not posted. Because opening up my laptop causes me physical pain, and because it's just not the same otherwise. Briefly fantasizing about buying a new computer (because, you know, I have money to throw around), I decided replacing the screen was the better route. Everything I need/want is on that computer. Yes, I'm quite sure it's just the screen that's damaged. Yes, I know screens are expensive. But this is why we save up for things, right? Because you never know when a pasta pot lid will smash your valuables. You never know when you'll lose grip of your cell phone and drop it, causing a dreaded blue screen of death to appear. And you just never really know when you'll run over a tire weight. Things happen.
But it could be worse. Way, way, WAY worse.
And so, without further ado, I bring you cookies. Crisp, buttery, spiced Dutch cookies. Speculaas, actually. These cookies make everything better. My Oma used to keep these stocked in her pantry when I was younger. In a paper bag lined with foil, she'd dole one (or two) out with my ice cream. Embossed with a windmill, they were some of my favorite treats growing up.
I suppose the thing that makes them so special are their spices and their texture. The butter and amount of crispness lend this cookie towards the "crumbly" category, but they are definitely a harder texture than, say, an Oreo. Clove, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger work to round out a warming flavor. And used to scoop up vanilla bean ice cream or dunked into tea or coffee, they are a treasure to behold.
They also make an excellent cookie for traveling by post. Because they are like roofing tiles. Wonderful, Dutch roofing tiles.
From Baked: Explorations
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground clove
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, cool but not cold, cut into 1/2 inch chunks
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoons freshly grated orange zest,
raw sugar (for rubbing into the orange zest as well as for sprinkling)
In a large bowl, blend together the flour, brown sugar, baking soda, spices, and salt. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender or pair of butter knives. Work until the mixture looks like crumbly oatmeal. Set aside.
On a cutting board, sprinkle about 1 teaspoon of raw sugar over the orange zest, and rub together with the back of a spoon. This will release the orange oil from the zest, which is the best trick ever. Like, ever.
Add the beaten egg and orange mixture together and then add all at once to the dry ingredients. Cut again until just combined. The dough should stick together but break apart and crumble easily. Form into a large disc, wrap in cling wrap or wax paper, and chill in the refrigerator for an hour (or overnight).
preheat the oven to 350 degrees. prep two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Unwrap the chilled dough and break in half. Place one half on a lightly floured work surface, and wrap the other back up and place back into the fridge.
Lightly flour the top of the dough and roll out until 1/4 inch thick. You will really have to work to keep the dough from crumbling all over the place. Just make sure you continue to close up any holes and add flour as you need it (to prevent sticking to the counter or rolling pin). Use a 2-3 inch cookie cutter (traditional speculaas are in rectangular shapes, but I used a round fluted biscuit cutter) and cut out the cookies. Extra dough can be reformed and chilled, then rolled and cut into more speculaas. Place them on the cookie sheets about 1 inch apart. Sprinkle with raw sugar.
Cookies will bake for 15 minutes. Make sure to rotate the pans halfway through the baking process to ensure evenness. The tops of the cookies should be just a smidge dry and dark brown. Transfer the baking sheets to wire cooling racks for 5 minutes, then remove the cookies to finish cooling directly on the racks.
Speculaas can be stored, tightly wrapped, for up to 5 days at room temperature.