Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Speculoos Cookie Sandwiches

Speculoos Cookie Sandwiches - made dough February 21, 2015 from Love and Olive Oil
I love Biscoff cookies. Which is funny because I only discovered them when I was traveling for work and they’re what was served to us on the airplane. How many airplane snacks can you say you got hooked on? Me? One. I don’t see them in grocery stores that much but discovered the Speculoos version of them at Trader Joe’s last year. I buy a box once in a blue moon but, because I have a tendency to want to eat them all, once in a blue moon means every 6 months or so.
I was intrigued by this recipe that promised to be the homemade version of Biscoff or Speculoos cookies. I’m not gonna lie – I was skeptical. Really? But the picture on the original blog was pretty so I fell for it. It doesn’t hurt to try it, right? If it fails, my 6 months were coming up and I was due to buy another box of Speculoos anyway.
One thing that made me leery was the number of spices in this cookie dough. Which is counterintuitive because Biscoff cookies are basically a spice cookie so yes, they have to have spices in them. But you’re talking to someone who thinks a recipe using cinnamon and nutmeg is already spiced enough. This one also had ginger and cloves and pepper and lions and tigers and bears, oh my. But I dutifully went with it because that’s what good recipe lemmings do. I will admit I did skip the black pepper though, not because I was being rebellious (sort of) but because the only black pepper I had was the kind you coarse grind with a pepper mill and I didn’t want chunky pepper in my cookies.
The lure of the original Biscoff cookie for me isn’t just the taste, however. It’s also the crisp, crunchy texture. Those as well as Oreos are two of the rare cookies that I like crisp rather than chewy (shortbread being a close third). I knew I had to make these fairly thin and bake fully to achieve a crisp texture. You don’t know how twitchy I got in not underbaking these but I held back and baked them for as long as I dared without burning them. I did time these (also a rarity) because you can’t go by the color since the cookie dough itself is dark colored.

These came out larger than I expected because they spread a bit and, disappointingly, they also lost some of their shape. When they went into the oven, they had distinct flower-scallop shapes that would have made cute little flower sandwich cookies. When they came out, the “flower” part was lost and they were vaguely round shapes with blunted scallop ends. Martha Stewart fail. Oh well, it’s not the first time something I’ve made doesn’t look the way I wanted it to. We just dust off our First World problems and soldier on.
The original recipe called for a chocolate cream filling (click on the post title to go to the original recipe if you want that filling) but I’ve mentioned before that I don’t like to combine cookie butter with chocolate as they’re two dominant flavors that compete more than they complement each other, at least to my picky taste buds. Just like when you have some friends you enjoy spending time with separately but together they make for a headache-inducing gathering, chocolate and cookie butter need to stay apart. Instead, I sandwiched the cookies with – tada – cookie butter! What better way to emphasize the Biscoff cookie flavor than with the cookie butter they’ve spawned?
This is another one of those times where I set all baking modesty aside and say, holy smokies, that was a brilliant move. I love these cookies. I love the filling in these cookies. I love the cookies sandwiched with the filling. They really do taste like honest-to-goodness Biscoff cookies, crispy-crunchy and all. The flavor was there, the texture was there – what more could I ask for? Plus it smelled delicious. I had a taste test cookie but, in a fit of virtue, took the rest into work without snagging a second cookie. My resolve weakened as the morning progressed but I waited too long to return to the cookie plate and by the time I gave into my inner cookie monster, the cookies were gone. Sigh. Time to make another batch.
1/2 cup butter, cold, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon molasses
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon finely ground black pepper, optional
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

Cookie butter for filling
  1. Place butter cubes in a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add the sugar, brown sugar, baking soda, salt, and spices and beat on medium speed for 30 seconds or until evenly incorporated. Add vanilla and egg and beat on medium speed until combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add flour and beat on medium speed until all the dry flour has been incorporated.
  2. Press the dough together into a ball and flatten slightly into a disk shape. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or overnight.
  3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  4. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to 1/4-inch thick. Cut out cookies with desired shape cutter and arrange on parchment or silicone mat-lined baking sheets, leaving about an inch of space between cookies. 
  5. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until the cookies just start to darken around the edges. Let cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  6. Frost the bottom halves of half the cookies with cookie butter and place the other halves on top (bottom side of the cookies facing the frosting) to sandwich the cookies together. Store airtight.

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