Christmas Star Cookies (Speculaas)


 Prep Time : 30 Minutes | Cook Time : 15 Minutes | Total Time : 3 hours | Difficulty : Easy

Christmas Star Cookies

So Christmas is only two weeks away! Ohmygosh how did that happen!? Every year the time between the start of November and just before Christmas just compresses like crazy – there’s no way that much time went by. I hope everyone is on top of their shopping and baking and enjoying the company of family and friends. While I love Christmas for the food and the kitsch and the excuse to revert to childhood, I also love it because it is a wonderful day with my immediate family who I don’t see often. And also cookies….

You guys, these cookies! They are my new favourite cut out cookie. The texture is perfect for a crisp cookie and the almonds help keep them light and tender. It’s also super-adaptable flavour-wise. Don’t like some of the spices? Swap them for something you do like! These cookies are also excellent with ground pistachios instead of almonds.

Cream the butter, sugar and lemon zest until light and fluffy. Add the egg and beat well until incorporated.

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Add the ground almonds and mix until well combined. Sift the remaining dry ingredients together and mix in until a dough forms. Tip the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for about 30 seconds until its smooth and even.

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Press the dough out into a rectangle and wrap tightly in plastic wrap or seal in a zip lock bag. Circles of dough are for things you are going to roll out into a circle later, like pie crust. Since we are rolling a rectangle later to cut cookies out of this just makes life easier. Chill the dough for 2 hours.

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Preheat the oven to 180C (350F). Roll out the chilled dough to 1/4 inch thick. I usually divide the dough into two before rolling so it’s a more manageable size. Using a 2 to 3 inch star cutter, cut out as many cookies as you can. I used a textured rolling pin on the ones I planned to leave plain at the end to give them a pretty finish.

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Continue until all the dough is used up. I typically follow a three-roll maximum for cookie dough because over time added flour and extra handling can make the dough tough. I find there is always someone who will gobble up the leftover dough…

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When the cookies are cut and on trays, chill them for 10 minutes in the fridge. Bake the cookies for 12-15 minutes until the cookies are browning at the edges and are golden underneath. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool.

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They will crisp up fully as they cool down. To decorate dip or drizzle with melted chocolate, adding sprinkles as you like. Or leave them plain in their golden, spice-flecked simplicity.

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These cookies keep and travel well so make a great homemade gift. You know if you don’t eat them first….

Christmas Star Cookies (Speculaas)


Prep Time : 30 mins | Cook Time : 15 mins | Total Time : 3 hours | Difficulty : Easy | Makes : approx. 50 x  2 inch cookies

Crispy cut-out cookies full of spice – a Christmas classic.

Ingredients:

For the cookies:

  • 1/2 cup (125 grams) softened butter
  • if using unsalted butter add 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup (155 grams) caster (superfine) sugar
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (about 1 medium lemon’s worth)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 cup (50 grams) ground almonds
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 cups (300 grams) all purpose flour

To decorate:

  • Melted chocolate of your choice
  • Sprinkles

– If using metric cups, reduce volume measures by 1 tablespoon for every cup of dry or liquid ingredients – 

Equipment:

  • Standing or hand-held mixer
  • Cookie cutters or wooden cookie molds
  • Cookie sheets lined with baking paper

Directions:

Cream the butter, sugar and lemon zest until light and fluffy. Add the egg and beat well until incorporated.

Add the ground almonds and mix until well combined. Sift the remaining dry ingredients together and mix in until a dough forms. Tip the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for about 30 seconds until its smooth and even.

Press the dough out into a rectangle and wrap tightly in plastic wrap or seal in a zip lock bag. Circles of dough are for things you are going to roll out into a circle later, like pie crust. Since we are rolling a rectangle later to cut cookies out of this just makes life easier. Chill the dough for 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 180C (350F). Roll out the chilled dough to 1/4 inch thick. I usually divide the dough into two before rolling so it’s a more manageable size. Using a 2 to 3 inch star cutter, cut out as many cookies as you can.

Continue until all the dough is used. I typically follow a three-roll maximum for cookie dough because over time added flour and extra handling can make the dough tough. I find there is always someone who will gobble up the leftover dough…

Bake the cookies for 12-15 minutes until the cookies are browning at the edges and are golden underneath.

Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool. They will crisp up fully as they cool down. To decorate dip or drizzle with melted chocolate, adding sprinkles as you like. Or leave them plain in their golden, spice-flecked simplicity.

Cook’s Notes:

  • You can swap the ground almonds for ground pistachios for a great variation, leave out the spices and lemon and add the seeds from one vanilla bean to the butter and sugar.
  • Re-chilling the cut cookies is key to controlling any spreading, especially if the ambient temperature is warm.
  • Spices can be switched out, but keep the total dried spices to 2 teaspoons or less so the cookies don’t take on a grainy dry texture

 – These cookies will keep well in an airtight container for several weeks and the flavour will develop over time – 

Adapted from Festive Baking.

© 2015 The Winsome Baker. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or link back to this post for the recipe.

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