I hate flying. This is not news to anyone who knows me, but for those of you who don’t, I can’t reiterate enough how much I hate flying. I actually border on having a phobia of it – I have panic attacks sometimes and take “calm-you-down” medicine whenever it’s ok for me to be sleepy on the other end of the flight.
In any case, I went on a trip to New York recently and had a great flight – free of any dramatics on my part, and that always makes me proud of myself.
On this trip I was also reminded of a little piece of joy, amidst a sea of discomfort and fear, that I find in flying a certain airline (*ahem* I’m not going to name them specifically). This airline serves these lovely little crispy, spicy, holiday-y cookies instead of the standard peanuts or pretzels and I just love them! (the cookies, I am ambivalent about the airline).
They are sort of like ginger snaps, but there’s no molasses and they are much more buttery-tasting. They are called Biscoff cookies, and as soon as I got home from my trip I set about trying to replicate them in my own kitchen. I saved the wrapper from my flight, but its list of ingredients was not much help – containing (as does most packaged food) barely anything that one could actually use in a home kitchen…or would want to for that matter.
Luckily, almost immediately upon my return I saw an as yet unread blog post in my Google Reader from Dorie Greenspan about a cookie she calls Speculoos. In her post she mentioned that these cookies are called Biscoffs in the U.S.
I remembered the recipe for Speculoos from when I first poured through my newly arrived copy of Around My French Table, Dorie’s latest cookbook. So I pulled the tome off the top shelf and started flipping through it to find the recipe again. Now, let me just digress a little to gush about this book.
This book, people! It is magical. Again, those who know me and know that I am a bit of a Francophile will not be surprised that I am enamored with a book (a substantial one at that!) that is all about French cooking. There are so many other reasons to love Dorie’s book though. It is just the right amount of modern and traditional to make it both accessible and decidedly un-stuffy. It is a book you could cook from for a month without getting bored – and without needing a heart surgeon (which is more than I can say for other beloved French cookbooks…sorry Julia). It is also chock-full of interesting tidbits of information about food and eating in France that I found just delightful.
When I first bought it I cooked from it constantly – I think we had some type of French soup for dinner 5 out of 7 nights a week for a while there. I had also gotten an immersion blender for Christmas, so that contributed to the soup craze too. And well, upon pulling it out to look for the Speculoos I become obsessed with it once more and have been cooking from it ever since. I will share some of those dishes with you in the coming days – including a lovely, seasonal celery root and apple soup. But for now: the Speculoos.
I fussed with the recipe a bit and ended up getting pretty darn close to recreating the Biscoffs I had on my flight. Close enough for my liking anyway. The egg I added to the recipe means that my version won’t keep as long as Dorie’s, but that wasn’t a problem in this house!
These cookies smell like fall and the holidays and everything good about this time of year. We ate some of them warm, like you do when cookies first come out of the oven. But I must admit to liking them more once they cooled down because they got crisp and crunchy, just like my airline favorites. Enjoy with coffee, tea or a mug of warm apple cider.
Biscoff-Style Spice Cookies
Adapted from Around my French Table by Dorie Greenspan
Makes 25-50 cookies (depending on what size cookie cutter you use – I used a big one and it made 25)
Before you start making these, be aware that the rolled out dough needs to be chilled for 3 hours before it is solid enough for you to cut the cookies out. Also be prepared for the dough to be really crumbly – I mean really crumbly – when you finish mixing it. But have faith! You just have to work with it a bit and it will come together.
- 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 2 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ground ginger
- 1/8 tsp ground cloves
- 7 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 large egg (you could probably substitute 1 tbsp of water here if you want them to keep longer)
First, whisk the dry ingredients together in a bowl: flour, salt, baking soda, and spices.
Beat the butter at medium speed (with a stand mixer or hand mixer) until creamy, then add the sugars to that and beat until well-blended (2-3 minutes).
Add the veg oil and egg to the sugar mixture and mix until combined.
With the mixer on low, add the dry ingredients slowly, mixing only until the flour disappears.
Once you incorporate all the flour, the dough will be crumbly. There might also be some flour left on the bottom of the bowl. Using your hands or a spatula, reach into the bowl and knead/squish the dough together enough to eliminate dry spots and to bring the dough together.
Divide the dough in half and working one half at a time, pat and press the dough (remember: crumbly!) together into a thick circle. Then roll the dough out between two pieces of plastic wrap until you have a circle that is about 1/4 inch thick.
Refrigerate the rolled out rounds of dough for at least 3 hours.
When you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Remove one circle of dough from the refrigerator and, using a cookie cutter, cut out as many cookies as you can, carefully lifting the cookies onto the lined baking sheet as you go.
Round up the scraps when you are done, roll them out again quickly into a 1/4 inch round and cut out more cookies. Only do this once or twice for this first batch (if you do it more the dough will get too warm and start being sticky). If you have more dough left, put it back in the fridge and use it with the second batch.
Bake the cookies for 8-10 minutes, or until they are lightly golden and slightly browned around the edges. Allow the cookies to rest on the baking sheet for a couple of minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack.
Repeat with the second round of dough. For best results, wait until the cookies are completely cool to enjoy (trust me!)