Speculaas - an introduction
A Speculaas biscuit is a biscuit with lots
of different sweet tasting spices.
It is thought that the Dutch name
Speculaas comes from the latin
'speculum' that means mirror.
Specerij(en) - the Dutch word for
spice(s) - is another possible source.
Traditionally speculaas biscuits are the
mirror image of the carved wooden
moulds they are baked in.
Windmill shaped speculaas biscuits are
known throughout the whole world, as
are male or female speculaas figurines.
These days speculaas biscuits can take
any shape or form. But you can do so
much more with speculaas spice than just making biscuits. Check out our Recipes.
Speculaas spice mix
Speculaas biscuits, cakes and bakes are all infused with a speculaas spice mix. There is no fixed recipe for the mixture, but all blends will contain at least cinnamon, ginger and cloves.
When spices became more widely available in the 17th Century, and onwards, Dutch bakers started to experiment making spice mixtures. The one that survives from that time is the current day 'speculaas spice mix'. This spice mix was, and is still, used to make a buttery biscuit - the speculaas biscuit.
Due to the relatively high cost of the various spices in the mixture it remained a luxury item for several centuries, often baked only in the winter and given as a present. These days, every indpendent baker in The Netherlands will have his own recipe.
The secret vandotsch speculaas spice mix contains nine spices, including real organic cinnamon, from Sri Lanka, cloves, ginger and six other spices that we not disclose.
Speculoos versus Speculaas
Speculaas and Speculoos biscuits are two completely different
biscuits. Not many people know the difference and therefore
there is much confusion between the two.
It is actually very easy. The main difference lies in their spice
content. Speculaas biscuits contain a number of different spices
while speculoos biscuits often include only one spice: the
cheaper version of real cinnamon: cassia.
It is believed that speculoos biscuits originated in the Belgian
region of Verviers in the early 19th century. In contrast to the
Netherlands, where the spices for speculaas biscuits were relatively inexpensively imported from its colonies, spices were very expensive in Belgium.
A biscuit recipe was therefore developed in Belgium without the expensive spices called: Speculoos - "loos" = less - because these biscuits were baked without spices. The word speculoos does not even exist in Dutch, it's a Flemish word.
These days, speculoos biscuits and speculoos spreads still contain primarily the cheaper version of real cinnamon (cassia), candy syrup and caramelised sugar.
The Spice Wars
Until 1800 spices such as cloves, mace and nutmeg were exclusively found on the Maluku Islands, in the East Indian Archipelago (nowadays Indonesia), while real cinnamon only grew on Ceylon (nowadays Sri Lanka). That's why these islands were called the 'spice islands'.
To make one's fortune in Europe, through the spice trade, one needed to control these islands. Since 1500, the Portuguese owned the monopoly on the European spice trade. However as from 1660, this monopoly was firmly in Dutch hands having conquered these islands, supplanting the Portuguese, while fighting of the Biritish.
In the late 17th and 18th century - the so-called Dutch "Golden Age", The Republic of the Seven United Netherlands, through the Dutch East India Company (VOC), occupied Ceylon (Sir Lanka) and the Indonesian archipelo. As a result, the Dutch owned the monopoly of several spices allowing them to make huges fortunes due to them maximising the prices of these spices in Europe.
With Belgium not having any 'spice' related colonies Flemish bakers used other ingredients to flavour their biscuits, calling them speculoos biscuits rather than speculaas biscuits.
The vandotsch speculaas spice mix
The vandotsch speculaas spice mix contains nine different spices, the key one (55%) being organic real cinnamon from Sri Lanka. This cinnamon base combined with the other eight spices delivers deliciously warm, sweet and spicy ‘layers’ of taste that take any simple cinnamon taste to another level.
Based on my Dutch grandmother's sweet tasting spice mix, vandotsch speculaas spice mix contains organic high grade 'real' ground cinnamon from Sri Lanka (55%), organic ground cloves (14%), organic ground ginger (14%) and six other organic ground spices to give our spice mix that unique kick.
> Suitable for vegetarians
> No artificial flavourings, colours or preservatives
> Sourced from responsible producers with organic certification and in many cases fairtrade certification.
> Gluten free
> Milk free
> Nut free
The vandotsch speculaas molds
We have a limited number of small wooden vandotsch speculaas molds / moulds for sale, to make authentic Dutsch speculaasd biscuits including a man and a woman, both in traditional Dutch clothing, as well as two types of Dutch windmills.
They make a perfect gift for young and old to enjoy making speculaas biscuits the ‘old-fashion’ way.
All our moulds / molds come with an instruction sheet - what to with the mold, how to make the dough and how to bake the biscuits.
Happy vandotsch speculaas spice baking times ahead!
The Speculaas Spice 'Master Chef'