Speculoos Buttons

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.

40 comments to “Speculoos Buttons”

  1. The gingersnap/graham cracker hybrid sounds great during this time of sugar cookie deluge. I’m going to try to track down silver and gold dragées for decoration.

    And that She-Ra/He-Man X-mas special is a classic! ‘A Diva’s Christmas Carol’ is my campy holiday tradition. For the honor of Greyskull too!

  2. I am Adora. He-Man’s twin sister and defender of the Crystal Castle. This is Spirit my beloved steed. Fabulous secrets were revealed to me the day I held aloft my sword and said “For the honor of Greyskull! I am She-Ra!

    New reader. I just love your blog (and Dorie)!! These cookies look beautiful.

  3. These look like perfect little bites of cookie. So pretty!

  4. Adora/Tracy- I love you.

  5. These look fabulous! Love this!

  6. These look so delicious and cute! Cannot wait to try these for the holidays!

  7. Wow…they look so cute :o
    Perfect recipe for my nephews, Gotta try them out :D

    Husband a la Parmigiana

  8. Oh, are you kidding me?! I am a San Franciscan living in the Netherlands & we are inundated with these cookies this time of year! The other day I even saw speculoo paste next to the peanut butter… As in, you can spread cookies on your bread.

    By the way, I love your site so much Tim! I read it all the time, but in the creepy silent stalker kind of way… until now. Happy holidays & enjoy your speculoos.

  9. These are perfect. I will be making many I can imagine over the next month. Here’s to the power of grey skull!

  10. I had to look up ‘speculoos’ because I had never heard of it and it reminds me of, um, the lady doctor. And I’m pretty sure you’re not making that kind of cookie. But now I get it, and I’ll file away ‘speculoos’ with ‘nougatine’ in “Funny Baking Words Tim Introduced to Me”.

    (They look great! And Dorie is great!)

  11. I am cranking up my Xmas playlist just looking at these cookies. You can practically get a whiff of them from the photos.
    Right now it’s Karen Carpenter singing the Christmas Waltz. Working on my potato latke recipes for next week, though.

  12. My husband refuses all signs of Christmas until, he says, at least December 1st. Somehow I’ve managed to be agreeable on this point but I think I may have to try to warm him up with a few of these cookies.

  13. Oh good, I thought I was the only person that fretted the end of the Christmas season before it’s even fully underway. It does seem to pass by quicker, doesn’t it? Where are the days when we made Christmas countdown paper chains and ripping off the single chains day by day towards Christmas seemed to take FOREVER? Sigh. Anyway, thanks for sharing these cookies, and making that great list of why Dorie is so awesome. Question though — are these cookies crispy and crunchy, like gingersnaps/graham crackers? Or are they more soft, or maybe more butter-shortbread like?

  14. I am a new reader and this is my first post from you! I am so excited, I love Dorie and my son & I hung out at his college apartment one day & watched a bunch of He-man episodes because he dressed as He-man for halloween! This is too perfect! Thanks for the awesome recipe, I can’t wait to try it. By the way Trader Joes has a chocolate bar with speculoos, I am addicted. Here’s to the power of the Greyskull!

  15. Thanks to all of you for your Greyskull wishes!

    Amy, they are snappy! Crispy.

  16. These cookies are the cutest! It’s been Mariah Carey on repeat this past week, and today there’s a wreath on my door. Baking a batch of cookies tonight to also help kick off December a little early. Woo!

  17. Do you use silver dragées, or only pastel and white ones? I always think they are silver bullets, but they look so darn pretty. I know they are supposed to be “for decoration only”, but who’s going to pick them off of a cookie?

  18. Hey Louise! I only had the while/pearl ones, but I think the silver are beautiful and would have used them if they were on hand. It is so weird that they are labeled as inedible, but everyone eats them.

  19. so glad I am not the only cookie nerd.

  20. Thanks for sharing Tim, these look amazing! I cannot find molasses over here, do you have any suggestions to replace them?

  21. Hey Emilie- I’m not sure where you are, but you should have some sort of dark syrup for baking? Whatever would be used for gingerbread or spice cookies. You could try honey, but it will not be the same.

  22. The cookies look like the perfect holiday treat. I have been wanted to give them a try since the issue landed in my mailbox. This might be the push that i need. Thanks!

  23. Cinnamon/ginger/nutmeg/molasses…favorite flavors in anything, especially cookies…and it’s the holidays – but I’m afraid I might eat the entire batch with my tea or cocoa; will have to hold back…share with the kids. Love the glaze and bite size.

  24. As a She-Ra fan, I just want to say that I absolutely squealed with glee when I saw that picture!! The cookies, of course, also look great.

  25. I had my eye on these, too! They’re so cute, and ripe for decoration. Also: Dorie is awesome, and I’m with you on anxious exclamations regarding Christmas being almost over. I am so desperate to enjoy it to the fullest. Here’s to that, with cookies. (:

  26. Those are totally on my to try list also! Glad to hear they worked out so well.

  27. I live in Belgium and here Speculoos is indeed, as Sadie stated above, the “IT”-cookie this time of year. On the eve of December 5th, we celebrate Sinterklaas (Saint Nicholas, the patron saint of children). Children put one shoe (with a carrot, an apple, … in it for Sinterklaas’ horse)in front of the fireplace and go to bed. The next morning the carrot is gone and children find candies, presents and speculoos in and next to their shoes. My favourite specoloos is with slivered almonds in it or the chocolate covered ones. And yes, we even have speculoos paste that we spread on our bread. Yummie!

  28. I wish I could have dorie as a pet. is that a weird thing to say? she’s just so adorable and fun. a little sprite, really. I want to make paper doll dories.

    I love the sound of these cookies. but I must admit that I’m slightly more intrigued by the bread you just posted a photo of on instagram. are we going to get a recipe for that? (pretty please?)

  29. Oh man. That She-Ra/He-Man holiday movie reference still has me laughing…wouldn’t be the holidays without such classics! (And without Dorie and her cookies…thanks for sharing!)

  30. Thanks for posting about these cookies. Even though I was dead tired when I read this post on Friday evening, I got up out of my chair and mixed the dough for our family cookie day on Saturday. These cookies were a success! Hands on for everyone, including a 5 year old who added the sprinkles to the buttons of glaze. A very charming addition to our cookie plate. And delicious with my cup of coffee this Sunday morning!

  31. Wow, a recipe for specaloos cookies?!?! You are my hero. Will definitely give these a go this holiday season. Thank you so much!

  32. I’m in the middle of my cookie baking marathon — I bake about twenty varieties (75 lbs.) in about 7 days. Fig & Date Swirls are in today’s baking. I’ll do these tomorrow. :-) Will there be 12 Days of Cookies this year? You’re running out of time. :-)

  33. Louise- whoa! you’re my hero- that is a lot of cookies. No 12 Days of Cookies this year, I ran out of time (and energy?). But hopefully it will be back next year! Thanks for remembering it.

  34. Skip to the last paragraph of this http://www.mcall.com/news/local/white/mc-bw-christmas-decorators-20121203,0,733698.column About half the cookies go to people who go out on the light tour. Last year $15,000 was raised for the local food bank. The other half of the cookies get sent to family and friends. A Christmas present to myself. :-)

  35. So, cool, Louise! That is some good work you’re doing. Thanks for sending that.

  36. I love these cookies! It reminds me of making them in pastry school. You’ve officially made my mouth water.

  37. My friend is allergic to cinnamon is there any way to replace it?

  38. Hi Ira- no good substitute. I would just pick a different recipe.

  39. silver dragees have been pulled from most markets,,,and are illegal in California. UK still has them listed as a food, but here they have to be marked as inedible and “for decoration only”. Wilton and McCormack no longer make….all because of a legistlation in CA. Crazy. And how funny that Bon Appetite magazine featured BEAUTIFUL specaloos WITH silver dragees for Dec. cover. The 3 stores I used to buy them from here near Buffalo NY no longer carry. I had to buy them online. (they will not ship to California)

  40. I love this recipe SO much. I also love your blog, so much. :) I ate so many Speculoos cookies and a ton of Speculoos spread in Europe last year when I was studying abroad. I’m gonna have to make this for my friends when we have a Europe reunion. Have you tried Speculoos spread(Trader Joe’s Cookie Butter)? I posted a recipe on my blog of some chocolate cookies stuffed with Speculoos spread, and it wasn’t too bad!
    Thanks for your great blog, I’m an avid follower and I can’t believe I’ve never commented
    -Daisy Bun

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