Thursday, 5 December 2013

On the fifth day of advent my lovely children made: Speculatius

These biscuits are traditional in both Holland and Germany. They are called Speculatius,  due to the Latin, speculator, or bishop, for St. Nikolas.

Tomorrow (the 6th) is St. Nicholas day.  Saint Nicholas is the saint of mariners and also of bankers, pawnbrokers, scholars, and thieves but he is especially the saint of children, and is better as Santa Claus, Kris Kringle, Pelznickel.  A legend tells of the saint's kindness to three daughters of a poor nobleman. They were about to be sold into slavery as they had no dowry but Saint Nicholas dropped a bag of gold down the chimney three nights in a row. This is said to explain why Santa Claus drops gifts for children down the chimney.

To make the biscuits you need:
  • 125g butter
  • 125g sugar
  • 75g almonds, finely ground
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 eggs
  • 225g plain flour
We beat the butter and sugar together until just combined, and then we added the almonds and spices. We added the egg. Then the flour was mixed in and the mixture left to chill for at least an hour.
Preheat the oven to 190 degrees C.

Traditionally, Speculatius are made by pressing the dough into a mould (which I bought from Amazon), but you can also roll the dough to 1/2 cm thick and cut them out with cookie cutters. If using a mould, grind an additional 150 g almonds and mix with flour. Dust a small piece of dough with the flour-nut mix and press into the mould.
Bake for about 10 minutes (depending on thickness) until brown at the edges.

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