I’ve been randomly exclaiming Christmas is almost over!, since Halloween. Even though I’m not Christian, I love the “holiday season” (by “holiday season” I mean: snow, Christmas decorations, presents, egg nog, good cheer, and all other secular/cultural parts of the holiday). The older I get, the faster the season goes by and the less satisfying it all is. It comes and goes so quickly, hence my anxious exclamation. I’m trying to fight the forward motion of the holidays by baking as much as possible, and watching holiday classics like She-Ra & He-Man: A Christmas Special (seriously weird, and currently streaming on Netflix).
These speculoos cookies from Dorie Greenspan are exactly what we all need to be making this holiday season. The spiced dough (in a magical land somewhere between a gingersnap and a graham cracker) is edged in sparkling sugar and topped with a small amount of glaze. The dough is made in advance and chilled. It turns the assembly of the cookies into a craft project. Gather your colored sugars, dragées and sprinkles and go to town creating these pretty little buttons. I have to admit I initially doubted the importance of the small dollop of glaze; spice cookies are pretty good on their own. But it is, in fact, very important and helps make these cookies special both in terms of taste and looks. These guys keep in an airtight container for a few days, but I would carefully layer them between parchment paper so the glaze doesn’t get messed-up and stick to other cookies.
Speaking of Dorie, why is she so awesome? Here are some reasons: 1) She is now selling her Beurre & Sel cookies online so any of us can have them delivered to our homes. Yes, I have already placed an order. 2) She indicated on her website that she might be selling the metal rings that she has custom made for her cookies. For a cookie nerd like me, this was exciting news. 3) She generously shared her recipes for her famous Jammers with Bon Appetit and Food 52. (remember when I tried my hand at Jammers? Well, now you can make the real deal) 4) look at her sweet self teaching us all how to bake cookies.
Thanks, Dorie, for being so great.
And by the power of Greyskull: Happy Baking Everyone!
(That was definitely a He-Man reference.)
Speculoos Buttons (by Dorie Greenspan via Bon Appetit)
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/2 cup (packed) light brown sugar
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons mild-flavored (light) molasses
- 1 large egg, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 large egg white
- Sanding or other decorative sugar
- 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
- Sprinkles, colored sanding sugar, or dragées (optional)
Whisk first 6 ingredients in a medium bowl; set aside. Using an electric mixer at medium speed, beat butter in a medium bowl until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add both sugars and molasses; continue to beat until mixture is smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the egg and vanilla; mix for 2 minutes. Reduce speed to low; add dry ingredients and mix to blend well.
Scrape dough from bowl and divide into thirds. Using your palms, roll each piece of dough into an 8-inch log. Wrap logs tightly in plastic or parchment paper and freeze for at least 3 hours. DO AHEAD: Dough can be made up to 2 months ahead. Keep frozen.
Arrange racks in top and bottom thirds of oven; preheat to 375°F. Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
Whisk egg white in a small bowl to loosen; lightly brush all over 1 log. Sprinkle with (or roll in) sanding sugar. Using a long, slender knife, slice off a sliver of dough from each end of log to make ends flat. Cut log into 1/4 inch-thick rounds. Transfer to 1 baking sheet, spacing 1/2 inch apart; place in freezer while you cut the next log. (The cookies hold their shape better if you bake when dough is cold.) Repeat with remaining dough.
Bake 2 sheets of cookies, rotating the sheets from top to bottom and front to back after 6 minutes, until tops are golden brown and centers are almost firm, 11-13 minutes. Transfer cookies to wire racks and let cool. Repeat with third sheet of cookies. DO AHEAD: Cookies can be baked 2 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.
Mix powdered sugar and 7 teaspoons cold water in a large mixing bowl (glaze will be very thick). Spoon about 1/2 teaspoons glaze onto each button (alternatively, fill a resealable plastic bag with glaze and cut a small hole in 1 corner; pipe glaze in an even circle around edges of cookies, then fill). Decorate with sprinkles, colored sugar, or dragées, if desired. Let stand on rack at room temperature for at least 30 minutes for glaze to set. DO AHEAD: Cookies can be made 5 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.