Looking for a sparkly, festive New Year’s Eve dessert? Speculoos are little cookies spiced with cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves–think of the Delta Airline Biscoff cookies. They dress up nicely with sugar around the edges (I used uncolored raw sugar, so the cookie’s rims aren’t as pretty as the ones on the cover of Bon Appetit are), a dollop of thick white frosting, and a scattering of colored sugar or sprinkles. If you are more patient than I am, you will have perfectly round cookies too. They are good keepers, as I made them for Christmas Eve and they’re holding up well, and as cute as a button (pun intended).
adapted from Dorie Greenspan for Bon Appetit, December 2012
Makes 90 (!) cookies, according to Dorie Greenspan, but 3-4 dozen, according to me
You can make these as tiny as you want, and I’m thinking the ones Dorie Greenspan made must have been microscopic. I chose to divide the cookie dough in half instead of thirds so the cookies would be a bit larger, but do as you wish.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons mild-flavored (light) molasses
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg white
Sanding or other decorative sugar (I used raw sugar)
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
Sprinkles, colored sanding sugar, or dragées (optional)
For the cookies: Whisk together the first 6 ingredients (flour, salt, and spices) in a medium bowl; set aside. Using an electric mixer (or a stand mixer with the paddle attachment) at medium speed, beat together butter, both sugars, and molasses until smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes. Beat in egg and vanilla; mix until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Reduce speed to low; add dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
Scrape dough from bowl and divide in half or thirds, depending on what size you want your cookies. Using your palms, roll each piece of dough into an 8-inch log. Wrap logs tightly in plastic or parchment paper and freeze for at least 3 hours. (For neater edges, remove logs from freezer after 1 hour and roll on counter.) At this point, you can freeze the logs for up to 2 months.
Arrange racks in top and bottom thirds of oven and preheat to 375° F. Line 2-3 large baking sheets with parchment paper.
Whisk egg white in a small bowl to loosen and lightly brush all over 1 log. Evenly sprinkle the log with sanding sugar, rolling the log in the excess. Using a long, sharp knife, slice the log into 1/4 inch-thick rounds. Transfer to 1 baking sheet, spacing about 1/2 inch apart, and place in the freezer or at least the fridge while you cut the next log. (The cookies hold their shape better if you bake when dough is cold.) Repeat with remaining dough.
Bake cookies, rotating the sheets from top to bottom and front to back after 6 minutes, until tops and edges are golden brown and centers are almost firm, about 10-12 minutes. Transfer cookies to wire racks and let cool before icing.
For the glaze: Mix powdered sugar and 7 teaspoons (2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon) cold water in a large mixing bowl (glaze will be very thick, but add more water if it is overly stiff). Spoon about 1/2 teaspoons glaze onto each cookie (alternatively and more neatly, fill a resealable plastic bag or pastry bag with glaze and cut a small hole in 1 corner; pipe glaze in an even circle around edges of cookies, then fill). Decorate with sprinkles, colored sugar, or dragées, if desired. Let stand on rack at room temperature for at least 30 minutes for glaze to set.
Storing: Cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for at least a week.