Speculoos is a type of spiced shortcrust biscuit, traditionally baked for consumption on or just before St Nicholas' feast in theNetherlands (December 5), Belgium (December 6)and around Christmas in Germany. 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.
Speculoos dough does not rise much. Dutch and Belgian versions are baked with light brown (beet) sugar and baking powder. German Spekulatius uses baker's ammonia as leavening agent. Spices used in speculoos are cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, cardamom and white pepper. Most Speculoos versions are made from white flour, brown sugar, butter and spices. Some varieties use some almond flour and have slivered almonds embedded in the bottom. Some Belgian varieties use less or no spice.
To make the dough, butter, sugar and spices are combined. The flour and leavening agent are mixed separately and then added. Bakers carefully ensure the dough doesn't heat too quickly. The dough is stored in a cool place overnight to give the spices time to permeate the dough and add extra flavor.