Saturday, December 24, 2011

Kruidnoten (aka Alex's Dutch cookies) - Takes 2 and 3

I have been asking Alex to write a guest post on the blog for weeks now about his newest attempts with Kruidnoten.  Last year he made his first batch while I was on vacation with my mom.  They weren't perfect so he wanted to make a few more attempts at refining/perfecting his recipe.  This post is about attempts 2 and 3, both of which he made in the past few weeks.  His first batch of 2011 was from a few weeks ago while I was working around the clock on a deal.  My main complaint about the cookies (which he agreed with) was that the spice blend was too overpowering and perfume-y.  I felt like I was eating potpourri every time I took a bite.  The texture was soft and almost like a peanut butter cookie.  He made the next batch with a few tweaks to the spice blend this past Thursday or Friday.  He wanted the cookies to be spicier - a little peppery, but less aromatic/perfume-y.  According to Alex, the cookies are traditionally fairly hard and spicy.  I guess that is why their name literally means "spice nuts."  You can leave out or change the ratios of spices to suit your own tastes (and your spice cupboard because his final recipe uses everything but the kitchen sink).  Per Alex, some recipes note that you can even just substitute pumpkin pie spices for the speculaas.  Since I know nothing at all about these cookies (except the little that Alex has told me) and I think of the cookies as being similar to gingersnaps, I guess that makes sense.

Rather than making the final batch of cookies hard, he baked them until they were crispy, but with a bit of chewiness remaining.  It was a very pleasant texture, unlike the first batch that was super dry and the second batch that was a little softer.  I have to say that I vastly prefer his last attempt at cooking the cookies far more than the previous two.  The spice blend was better, the texture was better - everything was better.  I would recommend making the cookies small, because the flavor is pretty powerful and one small cookie goes a long way.  The first and second batches were just too big for me.  And Alex is happy enough with his final batch that he's done experimenting.  It looks like he has found the kruidnoten recipe that he will be making at Christmas-time for years to come.

Recipe after the jump!


4 tbsp butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
4 tsp speculaas (see below)
1 cup self rising flour
3-4 tbsp milk
For speculaas (spice mix):
4 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp cardamom
1/3 tsp white pepper
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp mace
1/4 tsp anise
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
Cream together butter and sugar (Alex did this all lazy-style, with a bowl and a fork although I would recommend using a stand mixer).  Mix in speculaas.  Add flour and then milk.  The dough should be kind of sticky.  Chill the dough covered for an hour, to make it easier to work with.  Form small, 1/2-inch diameter balls of dough, each about the size of large marbles
Bake cookies about 11-12 minutes until golden

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