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Ginger-Vanilla Christmas Cookies (Ingwer-Vanille-Spekulatius)

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“This is a new "idea" on an old traditional German Christmas cookie. Spekulatius have a long tradition in German Christmas Bakery. Spekulatius are spiced cookies. In most recipes a mixture of cinnamon, cloves, cardamon and nutmeg is used. And the typical Spekulatius recipe would also include (sliced) almonds. The dough does not contain any baking powder or soda. So the cookies will not rise during baking. Cold butter and sugar in the dough will make the cookies crisp and they develop a very unique flavour during baking. This recipe takes up the idea of Spekulatius, but added something new. I reduced the amount of the typical spices and use always fresh spices, which I grounded prior usage. The use of candied ginger and vanilla bean is new too. The candied ginger and the fresh vanilla bean are a fantastic combination. Vanilla brings together the flavours of the ginger with the other spices so well. Yes, the recipe is a bit decadent, because I use vanilla bean instead of vanilla extract. And I use fresh spices. But it is worthwhile to do so, but you can sub them by extract or already grounded spices. Let the cookies develop their flavour in airtight container for a few days. They are getting better with time. Just after baking you will taste the vanilla with a hint of ginger in the back. On the next day(s) this will change and the ginger develops its full flavour with just a hint of pepperiness. And also the other spices are getting more dominant. But the vanilla hold them together. It may come as no surprise for you: I love these cookies.”
50 cookies

Ingredients Nutrition


  1. Cut or chop candied ginger into very small pieces.
  2. Mix softened butter with sugar, salt and spices until creamy. Scrap out the inside of the vanilla pod, add to mixture and mix.
  3. Add egg and mix until creamy and well mixed. Add ginger and mix.
  4. Add flour gradually to the butter mixture and mix until dough is formed.
  5. Wrap dough into cling film and put into the fridge overnight.
  6. Line out baking tray(s) with parchment paper.
  7. Flour a workspace slightly and roll out the dough very thinly (thinner than 1/4 inch). Cut out squares of about 2 inches (see note).
  8. Put cookies on baking tray and put in a cold place for about 1 hour (see note).
  9. Meanwhile preheat oven (390°F, 200°C).
  10. Bake cookies in lower third of the oven for 10-12 minutes or until cookies are lightly browned. Watch carefully. If you make the cookies very thin watch closely after 8 minutes. Do not overbake them.
  11. Remove from oven and let cool completely. Store in an airtight container.
  12. NOTE on candied ginger: the quality and sharpness varies a lot. If the candied ginger is too mild for your taste, you might add some grounded ginger to the dough, but not more than 1/4 teaspoon.
  13. NOTE on spices: I use fresh grounded spices here. And would recommend to do so. Cardamom, cloves and nutmeg have more flavour. Especially cardamom has more fresh notes.
  14. NOTE on cookie shape: you can use any form from simple squares over different shapes to special cookie molds for Spekulatius. You could also use a cookie stamp. Important: the cookies have to be thin.
  15. NOTE on cooling the cut cookies: prior baking it is important to cool the cookies, so that the butter inside is getting hard again. So they will not rise much in the oven and this cooling will make them crisp. I put the cookies on the baking tray and keep them on the tray in the fridge for 1 hour.
  16. NOTE: time to make does not include time for cooling dough. Cooking time is for one baking tray. Yield is a guess, because it depends mainly on how thin you make the cookies.

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