Hasselt Speculaas

Once baked for the Belgian troops, now popular in many regions of the world. They used to call the cookies "homp". Bakeries across the city of Hasselt, as dedicated as they were, worked long hours to lend a helping hand to the young soldiers. 

Speculaas from Hasselt.

Since the 1830's, the recipe went through some refinements to become the "Hasseltse speculaas". 

Among the newer ingredients were cinnamon, cloves, bicarbonate and almonds.

  • 500 g pastry flour
  • 1 packet baking powder
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate
  • 200 g soft butter
  • 50 g lard
  • 325 g brown sugar
  • 50 g almond powder
  • 50 g almond slices
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 2 tsp speculaas spices

If speculaas spices are not within your reach, make it yourself:

8 parts ground cinnamon, 2 parts ground cloves, 2 parts ground nutmeg, 1 part ginger powder, 1 part white pepper, 1 part cardamom.

The traditional recipe only uses cinnamon, a good alternative if you're short on spices. Use 1,5 tsp.

  1. Blend all dry ingredients including almond powder and almond slices.
  2. Mix sugar with butter and lard to a thick paste. If necessary put the fats in the microwave at low heat for tendering. Do not liquify! The mixture should be cold for the next step.
  3. Add eggs one by one. Only add the next when the other is well blended.
  4. Blend this paste with the flour mixture. Knead shortly with the stand mixer or use fingers. Do not knead too long, once all ingredients are evenly blended, stop kneading.
  5. Make a ball with the dough and wrap it with cling film. Store in refrigerator overnight.
  6. Take out of the refrigerator, roll dough into a cilinder with a cutting board (for even shaping). The size of a traditional rolling pin, about 7 cm diameter.
  7. Cut discs of about 1,5 cm thick. Shape them into ovals. Let them rest 30 minutes at room temperature.
  8. Put a sheet of baking paper on the oven tray and bake 12-15 minutes at 175°C.
  9. Put cookies with baking paper on a cooling rack for 5 minutes, just to release most heat.  Then remove baking paper leaving cookies on the rack. Do not let them cool entirely on the baking paper!

Tools used: Wooden spatula, scale, cling film, baking paper, large knife, cutting board .