“For some reason—the windmill shapes maybe?—I’ve always thought of them as Dutch,” says carswell of the Northern European cookies known as speculaas. But several countries claim ownership of speculaas, partially because of the tumultuous history of their area of origin. “Southern parts of Holland once belonged to Flanders, then Belgium belonged to the Netherlands again, then parts of Belgium and the Netherlands belonged to Germany,” says estilker.

According to estilker, Dutch speculaas are more cake-like, whereas Belgian speculaas take the form of heavily spiced cookies. German speculaas are also cookie-like, but less highly spiced. Even within Belgium, there is a great deal of variety—the giant ones baked on St. Nicholas Day can be “very crunchy to rockhard or just deliciously chewy,” says estilker.

carswell’s favorite use of crunchy speculaas is in a rub for flank steak. estilker recommends using them in tiramisù in place of graham crackers or ladyfingers, and adding some coffee liqueur to the mascarpone cheese layer as well as a strata of black cherry jam.

Board Link: Speculaas

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