Friday, December 19, 2008
'Twas the Week Before Christmas..
I've been hitting the flour. My kitchen is as white as the ground outside (mostly due to little white hand prints decorating my pantry). I've done it - I have attempted the Gevulde Speculaas - I use the work attempted, because while they taste amazing (judging purely from the rate they are flying out of the cookie container), this was a first attempt. I know that I have stressed and stressed some more about the importance of a slight under-bake if you want a really moist square- one with a bit of chewy "melting-in-you-mouth-ness." Well, I baked the speculaas perfectly, they taste super, but if I am being really critical, and let's face it - when it comes to food I have a high bar, I would say 2 minutes less baking time would have been the ultimate in perfection. However, this will have to wait until next year because my waistline can only handle so much.
I would like to brag, because I think I deserve to, that I made the almond paste filling from scratch. I won't say it's easy - it would be if you have a food processor, but alas I do not. Scraping the blades of my blender repeatedly, while making almond paste, was one of the first times I have really wanted a food processor. Please, if you own one please let me know which model you have and if it's worth owning it - because generally I like to stir; and I find chopping most vegetables, aside from onions, therapeutic; and I hate washing dishes; and up until renting a house with more cupboard space than I know what to do with, I have begrudged the space that unused appliances, and even used appliances, have occupied (Because of this Mike's rarely used quesadilla maker was a casualty of our move); and if you recall from my last post I am a one-bowl wonder. But I am derailing, suffice to say that almond paste can be made in a blender - just tack on a few extra minutes of pulsing and scraping to your efforts.
Yes, this is another "back-to-the-Dutch-roots" recipe. As I get older I get more nostalgic. These are one of Oma Reems' specialties. Soft and spicy, with gingerbready goodness, and an almond filling that marzipan lovers like myself go crazy over. When I go to Victoria I plan to get her authentic recipe - however, for those Reemses out there, you can empathize that attempting to get a recipe over the phone from Oma, with a hearing aid that may or may not be turned on- is a feat that would try even the most patient. I thought that I would stick to the internet this round and next year attempt the Reems method. I found a great Dutch food forum and combined two posts to come up with this recipe- Gevulde Speculaas
1 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp nutmeg
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
3 cups flour
11/2 tsp baking powder
1/s tsp baking soda
Combine the above ingredients. Divide dough in half - roll or pat one half into a 9 by 13 pan.
Spread with almond paste - Go ahead and use store bought. If you want to make your own here is what I did (the amounts of ingredients are approximate, sorry but I was in my "chuck ingredients in until it looks right" kind of mode -
Take about 3 cups of blanched almonds. Grind in a blender or food processor. Into your blender or processor add an egg, 1 tsp of almond extract, a few tablespoons of water, 1/2 cup of honey and 1/4 cup of sugar. Add more sugar to taste if you like. Voila.
Finally, roll out the second half of the dough and put on top of the filling. I had to patch mine up, but once I covered it with flaked almonds you couldn't tell. Next time I will make this I will brush with some egg and then put almonds on top - this time round at least a third of my almonds came off.
Bake at 350 for 30 min (although recalling my rant have a peek in your oven at 25 minutes to see if they are ready). Take out when the dough looks SLIGHTLY underbaked. It will harden up on it's own. Though if you like a drier crumb I would bake for 35 minutes.
Merry Christmas and stay warm!!!