Tag Archives: Speculaas

Speculoos Ice Cream; Get Some Special Lotus in Your Life

Speculaas Ice Cream

Lotus Paste Without the Postage

When I used to do Foodie Penpals, many people would yearn for a jar of Speculoos (or Biscoff) paste in their parcel, and would covet jars sent to others. Since I live in the Netherlands, I have ready access to a supply from Lotus (original and best), if I should want any, which I mostly don’t. But, posting jars is expensive, especially since the smallest size they make is 400 g, so I decided to make my own. People make their own nut butters and choc-nut butters, so it couldn’t be that hard, right?  So I thought, until I actually looked at the ingredients.

It is mostly oil – palm, and rapeseed; sugar of one kind or another; rice and soya flours; and stabilisers. I won’t buy palm oil, so I  would really struggle to get the consistency right.

Last summer, I happened to read this recipe for Specunana Brownies. I won’t be making these, because I can’t eat bananas. But, Camilla’s photo with the brownies and ice cream really inspired me. I knew then that the best way to give speculoos to others without having to pay excess postage would be to make a speculoos ice cream, and write down the recipe for you all to enjoy.

I have entire notebooks (and a draft blog post) where I scribble down ideas that I have. If I live to be a million, I won’t live long enough to make them all, but it doesn’t stop me. Every so often, I go back over them, and I came across this one again recently. I had some egg yolks going spare, so I decided to give speculoos ice cream a go.

Speculaas Spices: cinnamon, nutmeg, ground ginger, aniseeds, cloves, peppercorns

Speculaas Spices

David Lebovitz makes a cinnamon ice cream using whole spices. I like this approach, and so I based my own recipe on as much whole spice as I could, whilst remaining true to the speculaas spice. As David suggests, you also have the option of adding more ground speculaas spice mix before you freeze it. If you aren’t near the Netherlands around the beginning of December, then you can always make up the spice mix I have used for my Kruidnoten. I found that with the amounts I used, I didn’t need it, but the strength of spice can vary hugely. I waited only until the custard had cooled, because I was happy with the taste – anything eaten cold will lose flavour, so the original base must have real depth. You can leave it overnight to be sure, if you prefer. If you do need to add some ground spice, add half a teaspoon at a time, mix well (there may be lumps), and taste before adding more.

Another main ingredient in the Lotus speculoos spread is brown sugar. I knew it would give the ice cream its classic colour, but I didn’t want it to be the dominant flavour. So I settled for a couple of tablespoons, which worked perfectly.

I don’t have an ice cream machine, so I made mine by hand. It will be quicker, but just as good if you use a machine, I’m sure.

This ice cream is a smooth and as tasty as the original spread,  just colder. So, instead of having Speculoos/ Biscoff envy, why not make your own?

Spice Trail Blog Badge

And since there is plenty of ginger in this recipe, I’m going to enter it for the Bangers and Mash Spice Trail.

Recipe: Speculoos Ice Cream

Ingredients

500 ml double cream
700 ml milk
5 cinnamon sticks
About 1/4 whole nutmeg, grated
1 tsp ground ginger
10 cloves
1/4 tsp aniseed
1/2 tsp whole black peppercorns
100 g caster sugar
2 tbsp dark muscovado sugar
6 egg yolks

Method

I made a handmade ice cream before, with pictures. The ice cream may be a different colour, but the steps are the same.

Break up the cinnamon sticks slightly into big chunks with a pestle. Then place the milk, cream and all of the spices into a saucepan. Heat to just below boiling point. Remove from the heat, and set aside for at least half an hour to steep. Once the spices have worked their magic, strain through a fine sieve.

Bring the milk back up to just under boiling point. Whisk together the egg yolks and both sugars until they are light and creamy. You’ll be making a custard base for the ice cream.

Put the bowl containing the eggs and sugar onto a damp cloth, so you can pour and whisk without the custard going everywhere. Very slowly, add the warm milk to the eggs and sugar, whisking all of the time. You must take your time with this stage, or the egg will scramble.

Once all of the milk and egg are combined, return it to the pan. Heat gently, stirring constantly to stop the milk from catching on the bottom. Do not allow the milk to boil; again, you’ll get spicy, scrambled eggs. When the custard has thickened so that  it leaves a line when you run a finger down the back of the spoon you are stirring with, it is done. Return it to the bowl you used to beat the eggs and sugar in.

Now you need to cool it down quickly. Run a sink full of the coldest water you can manage. You need enough water to come most of the way up the bowl that you are using, but the water must not get into the custard, or it won’t thicken. Place the bowl of custard in the sink and stir while it cools.

Taste the custard. If the flavour is already really deep, then you can proceed to freezing. If you are at all unsure, then refrigerate the custard overnight, and see how it tastes when it is much colder. If you don’t think there is enough flavour, then by all means add some ground speculaas spice. If you need to add ground spice, then you will need to give the custard a really good whisk, to avoid lumps of spice in the mix.

Pour into freezable containers with a lid on. I use recycled ice cream containers, which are perfect for the job.  Put the lids on, and freeze for an hour.

I always make custard with a balloon whisk, because it gives me more control, and doesn’t make the custard froth too much, which will give a weird consistency. However, I always churn the ice cream with an electric whisk, to really make smooth ice cream. Remove the ice cream into a mixing bowl, using a spatula to make sure there are no crystals left around the edges. Churn the ice cream until smooth, using the electric whisk. Return to the container, and refreeze. Repeat churning and refreezing until you have a thick, but smooth ice cream, then leave to freeze completely overnight.

Remove from the freezer about 10 minutes before serving.

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Taking the Biscuit

Speculoos Refrigerator Biscuits

Speculoos Refrigerator Biscuits – Meant for Taking

Yesterday I hosted a meeting for a group of proto-freelancers that I have joined. As is customary, I was going to serve biscuits and tea. Since I prefer to make things from scratch (a tendency that has only got worse since it also gives me something to blog about!) I decided that I was going to make the biscuits. I have not actually attempted to make biscuits for a number of years, since they aren’t really something that I have around the house. In fact, the only time that I really ever think to buy them is if I am going to make a cheesecake, or another dessert with the requisite buttery biscuit base.

The last time I was really into making biscuits was as a fairly young kid (maybe 8ish?). Once the Sunday Dinner had been cleared away, and the washing up done, I would bake things, some sponges cakes and the like, but mostly biscuits, while my parents were either out on the garden, or dozing in front of the Eastenders Omnibus. These baking sessions were always using recipes from the tried and trusted Dairy Book of Home Cookery.

I had been given some Lotus speculoos paste by a good friend who was returning to Australia, and had one too many items from Europe in her case. I have always known that I will make biscuits with it, since these are traditionally served with coffee and tea in every cafe in Holland. And what better opportunity to have a go than for a meeting? So it was to these things that I turned when looking for inspiration.

The Dairy Book has a basic recipe for refrigerator biscuits, which seemed easy enough to adapt, so I used this as a starting point for my treats. They are called refrigerator biscuits because you wrap them up like a sausage, then let them rest in the fridge for at least an hour. I actually made these a while ago, when we were originally going to have the meeting, but we had to postpone due to a particularly nasty flu that several of our people had. You can keep the dough in the fridge for a week. The mixture also freezes well, and the amounts given here will make a lot of biscuits (up to 60 depending on how wide you roll the sausage), so I divided it in two and still have a sausage of dough in my freezer. You can defrost them on the counter, or (if you can cut them) cook them from frozen, allowing a minute or two longer cooking time, but you will need to watch them.

Recipe: Speculoos Refrigerator Biscuits

Ingredients

200 g plain flour

100 g butter

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp speculaas spice

2 tbsp Lotus speculoos paste

150 g caster Sugar

1 egg, lightly beaten

vanilla sugar for sprinkling

Method

Rub together the flour, baking powder, butter and speculoos paste, like you would for making pastry. Once you have the breadcrumb texture, mix in the sugar.

Add the egg, and bring together to form a dough. I did all of this with my hands, but you can do it with a spoon if you prefer.

At this point, I tasted the dough, and decided that the speculoos didn’t give quite the spicy punch I wanted, so I decided to add some speculaas spice that I still had from making Kruidnoten. I also gave the recipe for the spice mix on that post, if you want to have a go at making these, and you are not in the Low Countries, where it is readily available.

At this juncture I should point out that raw cookie dough has been linked to outbreaks of e. coli infections, and should not be eaten if you are in a vulnerable group, or if you are worried about this sort of thing. In this case, I took the risk for you, so if you choose to make these biscuits, you can also skip the testing, and simply add the spice when you mix in the flour, as I suggest above. If you can’t find any speculoos paste, then you can also just use the spices.

Once the dough has formed, it should be pretty dry, and workable. I found I needed to use a tiny bit of water, to help the dough form, because the only egg I had was on the small side, but I added it splash by splash, because I wanted to get the texture right.

Roll the dough into a sausage. You may need to cut it into two here. I did. Once the sausage is the sort of width you imagine your biscuits to be, wrap it tightly in foil or cling film, making sure the ends are sealed well. It is worth noting that these biscuits will spread a little, during cooking, so you will need to roll the sausage a bit thinner than you want.

Once wrapped, bung the dough in the fridge for at least 3 hours, or overnight if you can. Or you can freeze it immediately.

When you are ready to bake, heat your oven to 190°C.

Meanwhile, grease your baking sheets with some old butter paper, which should have enough butter on it to cover your trays with a thin layer of butter. If not, rub it over a pat of butter before rubbing the tray. Butter paper is also something that I never throw out, until I have got maximum use from it. You can substitute it for tin foil to wrap food (but not for cooking with), you can using for greasing baking utensils, and you can use it as a cartouche to retain moisture or prevent a skin from forming on a liquid. My mum has always done this, and I have also always done this, it was just a habit really.

I have two baking sheets, so I used both in the oven at the same time, to reduce energy consumption. If you do this, be aware that the top biscuits will be ready slightly earlier than those lower down in the oven. They catch really quickly, so take these out first.

Slicing Biscuits from the Dough Log

Slice ’em Up. If you use a sharper knife, then you can get thinner biscuits than I did here

Then, thinly slice your biscuit dough along the length of your dough sausage. Probably thinner than I have here, if you like. One tip is that the sharper the knife you use, the less you will compress your roll, and thus will not have to constantly reshape or have odd-shaped biscuits.

Arrange the biscuits onto the trays, allowing space for them to spread out a little as they cook. I sprinkled mine with a little vanilla sugar, because I always have it to hand as a by-product from custard making. Caster sugar will be just as good. You can also dust it lightly or a little heavier if you would like more of a crisp.

Speculoos refrigerator Biscuits Sprinkled with Sugar

A Sprinkle of Sugar

Stick them in the oven, and check them after 10 minutes. Mine were done then, but you can leave them in for up to 12 minutes.

Allow them to cool a little on the tray before removing, and serving. If you do have any left, put them in an airtight container, where they will keep for a day or two.

The actual time you spend on these biscuits is minimal. I probably spent about 10 minutes in total on preparation. But, I can guarantee that your guests will appreciate the effort that they will think that you have gone to. Unless you have hundreds of guests, you will also have enough for a couple of batches, and what could be handier to have on standby in your fridge or freezer, for meetings, drop in guests, or a visit from the WI?

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