A specialty of the Netherlands and Belgium, these are cousins of gingerbread, only lighter and more delicately spiced. They’re also showstoppers, thanks to the intricately carved wooden molds used to make them, which form the cookies into bas-relief images of characters and symbols from stories about Saint Nicholas, or Sinter-klaas, whose name day, December 6, kicks off the Christmas season in that part of the world.
- 3 cups flour
- 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1 1⁄2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 tsp. ground coriander
- 1 tsp. ground ginger
- 1⁄2 tsp. ground cloves
- 1⁄2 tsp. baking soda
- 1⁄2 tsp. kosher salt
- 1⁄4 tsp. freshly ground white pepper
- 12 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1⁄3 cup milk
- In a bowl, whisk together flour, spices, baking soda, salt, and white pepper; set aside. In a mixer, beat together butter and sugar. Add half the flour mixture; mix. Add milk and remaining flour mixture; mix. Form into 2 disks. Chill, covered, for 2 hours.
- Heat oven to 350°. Working with 1 disk at a time, break off chunks and press into a floured speculaas mold; scrape away excess dough and invert mold to free dough. Brush away flour from mold. Transfer imprinted dough pieces to parchment paper-lined baking sheets, spacing pieces 2″ apart. Bake until golden brown, 16–18 minutes. Let cool.