At first, I didn't have any inspiration. But then lightning struck me! Speculaas! It's a cookie, traditionaly baked for St Nicolas' Eve but nowadays available all year round, that is mostly eaten in Belgium and the Nederlands. It's very popular here. Wikipedia told me that speculaas is also known as "Dutch Windmill Cookies", if that rings a bell to you.
That traditional cookie must be over a century old. And a little research told me I was right. A baker from Hasselt (Belgium), Antonie Deplée, acquired a license for "Hasseltse Speculaas" on January 13th, 1870! He called it:
« une espèce de pain d'amandes connu sous le nom de spéculation » - A kind of almond 'bread' known under the name spéculation.
The cookies are thin, slightly browned and very crispy, but what makes them special, is the mixed spices that are used. It's a combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, cardamom and white peper. Real speculaas have images or figures stamped on the front side. However, I have no such stamp, so my cookies are very plain.
I like speculaas very, very much. So you can imagine my relief when I found a relatively good recipe for a gluten-free version. It's not the same, but it tastes quite like it, and it's good and yummy too.
So, now on the recipe:
• 100g buckweat flour
• 100g rice flour
• 100g good quality butter
• 125g brown sugar
• 8g vanilla sugar
• a pinch of salt
• 1 egg
• 1 tsp baking powder
• 1 Tbsp mixed speculaas spices
(to mix your own spices: 30g ground cinnamon, 10g ground cloves, 10g ground nutmeg, 5g ground white pepper, 5g ground anise seed, 5g ground coriander seed)Simply mix all the ingrediënts and knead them into a ball. Put it away in the fridge for at least an hour.
Take a bit of the dough and form a small ball (rolling between your hands). Put the ball on a baking plate (covered with baking paper) and press it flat. You can also make figures, or basically anything you want.
Put the plate with the cookies in a preheated oven (175°C) and bake them for about 10min. They'll be soft when you take them out of the oven, but they'll get hard when they cool. So don't worry. Let the cookies cool until they are firm enough to handle. Put them on a cooling rack and let cool completely.
It's strange to bake these on the First Day of Spring, it's more of an "Autumn-cookie" :-)