Speculaasjes are good, speculaas with almond paste is better. The version bought in Dutch shops is often a little on the dry side, but maybe that is just me. The recipe on this page is enough for almost 4 pounds of very rich (=fat) stuffed speculaas. It is easy to make the half amount, however, even with the full amount there will be little leftovers. More recipes for Dutch Santa Claus are listed on this page.
4 pound speculaas with almond paste; preparation in advance 10 minutes + 1 day rest; preparation 40 minutes + cooling.
500 gr (4¼ cup) wheat flour
175 gr (½ cup) butter
250 gr (1¼ cup) sugar
2 eggs, stirred
¾ cup cream
salt to taste (don’t forget this, and be liberal, otherwise your speculaas will taste bland)
3½ to 4 Tbsp speculaas spices
grated skin of 2 lemons
100 gr to 200 gr (1 to 2 cups) flaked almonds, broken in to smaller pieces (optional)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
almond paste (see recipe)
whole or halved blanched almonds
egg, egg yolks, milk or cream
Preparation in advance
Mix flour with sugar, salt, baking powder, soda and spices (don’t forget the salt, otherwise the speculaas will be bland). Add the butter, cut it with two knives to little chunks the size of peanuts. Add almonds (optional) and lemon peel, and as much egg and cream as necessary to obtain a firm dough. Place the dough in a bowl, cover, and let it rest, preferably a whole night, in the refrigerator. If no almonds are used in the dough, add more flour.
Use a flexible baking sheet to make the large stuffed speculaas on, as it will be easier to transfer from worktop to baking tin, and after baking to a cake rack.
Divide the dough in two. Roll out one half, and cover a baking sheet with it. If you have trouble rolling the dough out and transferring it to the baking sheet, just flatten it with your hand to your satisfaction. Spread the moistened almond paste on the dough, leaving about 1½ inch around empty.
Roll out the second portion of dough, drape it over the stuffing, press the sides of both dough sheets well together.
With a knife trace a pattern of lozenges. To guild the dough, brush it with egg, egg yolk, milk or cream. Decorate further with the almonds.
Bake the filled speculaas for 20 to 30 minutes in a preheated oven (175 °C/350 °F). When the speculaas is ready, take the baking tin out of the oven and pull the baking sheet with the speculaas on a cake rack. Then carefully pull the sheet from under the speculaas. That way the speculaas will not brake or fall apart. Let it cool to lukewarm or room temperature.
In the Netherlands you can buy the spices for speculaas premixed. I doubt whether that is the case elsewhere in the world. So here you have a mixture to make yourself: Take cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, white pepper, ginger and cardamom (everything powdered) in a ratio of 8:2:2:1:1:1 (whether you use grams, teaspoons or tablespoons, the proportions must be the same). The used spices betray the age of the recipe for speculaas: this combination of spices can be found in many fifteenth century recipes.
Recipe for rich speculaas stuffed with almond paste