I spent about 10 months making cookies and petit fours. The cookies would change every 3-4 days from Cranberry, White Chocolate and Oat to Crunchy Peanut Butter and then Coffee Almond, next could be Walnut and Pecan Brownie and this would continue forever.
I would find myself always asking, what cookie shall I make next? A constant rattling of the brain trying to figure out new and exciting combinations.
So you can probably guess, that after months of staring and handling cookies, I know a bad cookie dough when I see one.
I had wanted to make some stamped, beautiful, vintage looking cookies for a while. After seeing a Speculoos recipe, and learning that they are traditionally stamped/moulded, they seemed a perfect match.
I found a good-looking recipe, adjusted the spices and method slightly and off I went.
You know I mentioned that I know a bad dough. Well, this was one of them.
Dry, dull and crumbly. Oh how I was looking forward to rolling this out. Sense the sarcasm. Just as I thought, it was utter crap. Once baked they looked pretty but they completely dried out your mouth and I had gone a bit OTT on the spicing. Oops.
I left it a few weeks and tried again.
I had struck gold with a Bouchon Bakery recipe after adjusting it a bit to my needs. (The original used plain flour, cake flour and whole wheat flour. Who has all of those flours?!)
This dough is silky soft, has a golden sheen and smells amazing! Ok, so it’s not the easiest dough to work with. Speculoos doughs are notoriously hard to handle. Rock hard when their cold but too soft when their warm. However, if you leave this dough in the fridge overnight and knead it for a bit before rolling it out; it turns out pliable but still remains cold enough to stamp and cut.
This recipe holds the stamped shape really well and adding a bit of water icing on top brings out the pattern even more as it settles in the indents. The cookies have a subtle spicing to them and a sweet accent of honey to them. They are some of the most unassuming but delicious biscuits I’ve had in a while.
So guys, it’s time to rummage around your house, your mums kitchen and that one funky friends trinket collection. Get stamping.
Ingredients – recipe adapted from The Bouchon Bakery – Makes approx. 48 biscuits
- 250g plain flour
- 1/4 tsp. baking soda
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp. white pepper
- 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
- pinch salt
- 75g soft dark brown sugar
- 60g caster sugar
- 8g honey
- 177g unsalted butter, softened
Combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, white pepper, ground ginger and salt together in a medium bowl. In another small bowl, combine the two sugars and honey using a fork. Place the soft butter in the bowl of a stand mixer and cream it using the paddle attachment.
Add in the sugar/honey mixture and beat again for 2 more minutes until fluffy. Scrap down the sides and briefly beat again. Add the dry ingredients in a few additions until all this is incorporated. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and, using your hands, pat down into a round block. Wrap this in cling film and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
Pre-heat your oven to 160 degrees F and line two baking trays with baking paper.
Unwrap the dough and place on a floured surface. Using a floured rolling-pin, bash the surface of the dough to make it more pliable. Continue to do this until your dough is wide enough to be easily rolled out. If the dough is still too hard to roll out, gather it up and knead it for a minute or so, then re-roll. You’re dough should be roughly 3mm thick. Depending on your stamping object, you may need to roll the dough thicker.
Note: If you are having real trouble with the dough being too hard, leave it out for 10 minutes before rolling to soften up. This will make it easier to roll out but your cookies won’t hold their shape as well when baked. So make sure to refrigerate the cut cookies well before baking, about 40 minutes.
Stamp onto the dough and cut out using the appropriate sized cutter. Place your cookies onto your prepared baking trays approx. 1cm apart. If your cookies have become soft, place them into the fridge for 20 minutes before baking; this will help to keep their shape when baking.
Bake the cookies until golden, about 10 minutes depending on size. Turn the baking trays around half way through for even baking.
Leave to cool on a cooling rack. Store in a cool, dry place in an air-tight container.