Tuesday, January 31, 2012


Going into this new recipe as part of the ongoing Club Baked adventure I had no clue what Speculaas were and fairly sure I hadn't heard of them before either. I have probably eaten one :) and just didn't know it. As we are seeing in our Baked Explorations book, we travel across the country and within our own United States experiencing foods born from various cultures and in some cases out of economic challenges. It really is quite interesting for me to know the history behind our food.

Here is what Wikipediahad to say about this cookie:
"Speculoos (Dutch Dutch: SpeculaasDutch pronunciation: [spekyˈlaːs], Flemish Dutch: Speculoos, French: spéculoos) is a type of shortcrustbiscuit, traditionally baked for consumption on or just before St Nicholas' feast in the Netherlands (December 5), Belgium (December 6),[1] and Northern France. In recent decades it has become available all year round...Speculoos are thin, very crunchy, slightly browned and, most significantly, have some image or figure (often from the traditional stories about St. Nicholas) stamped on the front side before baking; the back is flat.For the dough the butter, sugar and spices are mixed. The flour and leavening agent are mixed separately and then added. Bakers take care that the dough doesn't get warm too fast. The dough is stored in a cool place overnight to give the spices time to permeate the dough, and add extra flavor."

In doing some further review online I found that the Dutch Windmill is a popular mold for the Speculaas cookie and people tend to be quite particular about the correct 'Speculaas' cookie recipe. It seems that some recipes boast to be a Speculaas recipe but natives would weigh in that they don't measure up...no pun intended. I happened to find some molds I liked (boat/windmill) online that once I gain some needed practice with these cookies, would love to use as they add a measure of whimsy and they are just downright cute!

I learned too late that the recipe in our book had a misprint in the directions (add cardamom) that was not listed in the ingredients (rightfully so). Usually I leave stuff out - on accident - and this time I added in what I was supposed to leave out thinking it should be there.  Oops and Oh well! I am happy I did because not only is cardamom my new favorite spice but they tasted delicious. Not very pretty (at all really) but very yummy! The spices in this recipe are among my most beloved.

This is exactly the kind of 'more-ish' crunchy cookie that perfectly accompanies my nightly reading. It's like a proper treat that pairs well with tea and satisfies my cravings.

The recipe itself was simple and easy enough to make. The cookies (round cutters) also seemed easy enough...until I baked them and they spread out, got real thin, and kinda ugly. I had an image in my mind of my end result and this was not it. I had tried some more hand made varieties but in the end I was disappointed...and to the degree that I actually dreamt that night that the baking soda was off and that I went to the store in the middle of the night, in pouring rain, to buy new baking soda so I could make them again. As if work stress isn't enough, I am dreaming about cookie issues. Ha! In reality, I stuck with my original result (did not get new baking soda) and am posting my first official Speculaas effort.

I highly recommend these cookies. My BFF, Gingersnap Girl, wasn't so in love with the flavor and hers were sans cardamom. I haven't read the other posts yet but can't wait to see what everyone thought and experienced.  
If you would like the recipe, check out our Baked Sunday Mornings co-host page: SPECULAAS
If you want the recipe like mine, add 1/2 teaspoon Cardamom when you are adding the other spices.

Feb  15 - Soft Candy Caramel

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Mississippi Mud Pie (A) AKA Coffee Ice Cream Tart

Today we are taking a trip down south to Mississippi, the 20th state to be added to the Union back in 1810! 
I figure since we are going to take time to review a desert representing it's home state you should know  a few things about it first.

According to Wikipedia "Mississippi mud pie" is a chocolate-based dessert pie that is likely to have originated in the US state of Mississippi and comes from the dense cake which resembles the banks of the Mississippi River. It is believed that this dish was created by home cooks after World War II because it was made of simple ingredients that could be found at any supermarket and did not require any special cooking tools.

Mississippi is the 32nd most extensive and the 31st most populous of the 50 United States. Jackson is the state capital and largest city. The name of the state derives from the Mississippi River, which flows along its western boundary, whose name comes from the Ojibwe word misi-ziibi ("Great River").

This recipe contains coffee, chocolate, and bourbon so I didn't feel at all disappointed to have make it for this months Club Baked recipe. There were a few starts and stops throughout the pie preparation so don't expect to start and finish this recipe in one go.

Crystal's "Great Chocolate River"

This dessert lives up to it's name and is, in my opinion, thick and heavy with chocolate, almost too much so for my taste. The flavor is wonderful, especially with the coffee ice cream (and bourbon, eck hem), but I really couldn't eat more than a few bites. I guess I am not as hard core of a desert foodie as I thought :) but the pictures make for what I call good 'food porn'.

I didn't find the recipe challenging and did steps in between other activities and wrapped it up at the end of the day, once again taking pictures at night.  The only change I made was to sub oreo cookies (sans frosting) for my cookie base since locating 'just' chocolate wafers was going to take more than one trip to one store.  I used Haagen Dazs "Java" ice cream as my coffee ice cream selection for this recipe and in choosing this ice cream, I now realize why this section of the store is dangerous. I am not really an ice cream person and I think it is safer for me, calorie wise, to stick to that.

I hope my other Club Baked members had fun making this. Another first for me!
To get this recipe, please visit Jess' site:

Thank you Jess for hosting. It was a fun experience.

Coming up:
 February 1st  -  Speculas ( no idea what these are)