A few weeks ago I made these crunchy, spiced speculaas cookies. There is rarely a Belgian household that doesn’t have at least one packet of them laying around. This time of year though, people make an effort to bake them at home or to buy them at the local baker’s. Why? Because in Belgium (and in the Netherlands) Speculaas is very much associated with Sinterklaas, or St. Nicholas, which we celebrate on December 6th.
To make this yummy treat, you need a Speculaas spice mix. Maybe you are lucky enough to find one ready-made where you live. But if you live outside Belgium or the Netherlands, chances are you won’t find it or it might be expensive. So here is my version. Use it to make Speculaas or add it to your favourite sugar cookie recipe. Try it sprinkled on top of your latte or hot chocolate. Use it for this year’s Thanksgiving pumpkin pie.
Speculaas spice mix
4 measures of ground cardamom
8 measures of ground cinnamon
2 measures of ground ginger
1 measure of ground cloves
1 measure of ground nutmeg
1 measure of ground mace (optional)
Mix the spices together and store in an airtight container.
What will you use this spice mix for?
Some of you already know that we don’t live a Monday to Friday, 9-5 kind of life. Sure, the kids and I do to a certain degree, but my pilot husband-to-be does not. His schedule doesn’t take into account holidays, celebrations and weekends. But we are used to it. It’s our life and there are some great perks that come with this lifestyle.
So what to do come Easter weekend when most people are out of town visiting grandparents or taking a well deserved family holiday? What to do when P. is hanging about the European skies and the kids are shouting “I want to go outside!” at 7 in the morning? You take your iPad, that’s what you do. You skip the Lego Train building game and the Youtube app and you go straight to 2 of my new favourite blogs. Thanks for your help in keeping us entertained this Easter weekend Isa and Claudia at Hauptstadtmutti and Jenni at Museum Diary.
On Good Friday we made and ate a lot of marshmallow top hats. You will find the recipe here. They are perfect for little people with little fingers.
On Saturday the sky was blue and the sun was out and it felt like spring was finally on the way. I love our street on days like these. The fountains are back on now that winter is over and the trees will soon be full of luscious green leaves. Oh, and this is where my daughter will grasp the art of cycling a “big” bike.
Happy Easter! We hunted for easter eggs and made this fresh, pink rhubarb juice. I got the recipe from the ladies at Haupstadtmutti. I can only recommend drinking lots of this home-made juice because it is simply the best. I’m pretty sure this is going to be a staple in our house this spring and definitely this summer. You’ll find an english translation at the bottom of this post.
On Monday I took 2 overly excited kids on 2 subway trains (the fact that we needed to take 2 different ones was a big deal) to the Berlin Currywurst Museum near Checkpoint Charlie. So it’s not the MoMa or Tate but it was the perfect place for us on Easter Monday. The highlight was smelling and looking at all the spices. And the fact that apart from another family we were the only ones there (we arrived as they opened) and the kids could run around without getting in any one’s way. If ever in doubt about going to museums with your kids, read this article by Jenni.
I hope you had a lovely easter weekend.
English translation of Rhubarb Juice as featured on Hauptstadtmutti (original recipe by Marie Langenau)
1 kg fresh rhubarb
juice of 2 lemons
Wash the rhubarb thoroughly making sure all the dirt is gone. Peal and chop into 2-3cm chunks. Place the rhubarb in a pot with 2 litres water and let it all boil for about 15 minutes. Strain the juice into a second pot. Add the sugar and lemon juice and stir until all the sugar is dissolved. Pour the juice in 2 clean bottles.
The rain hasn’t stopped all week. And the icy wind seems to cut its way through every piece of clothing I wear in an attempt to stay warm. It’s the sort of day where you want to sit on the sofa, wrapped in a blanket holding a cup of something warm. Perhaps it’s a fruity tea or maybe you’ve opted for a hot chocolate. But consider this: cookies and milk in a cup. Yes, it is real and it is Yum (with a capital Y)!
Get yourself some speculoos (Biscoff cookies) or some gingerbread cookies. Get yourself some milk. Put the two together in a saucepan and heat it all up. Simple as that.
If you want to make it extra special, add some almond crumbs. Sit, sip and forget the greyness outside your window.
Speculoos milk with almond crumbs
5-6 speculoos cookies
500ml (or 2 cups) of milk
2 tbsp ground almonds
1 tbsp dark brown sugar
Put the milk in a saucepan. Break the cookies in 2 and add to the milk.
Heat on medium heat and stir.
Don’t let the milk boil.
When all the cookies are dissolved and the milk is warm, pour into 2 cups (you can use a sieve to get rid of any last bits of cookie crumb).
Top with almond crumbs.
Put the ground almonds and brown sugar in a pan on medium heat.
Keep staring until the sugar melts and the ground almonds start to stick together in large crumbs.
Take off the heat and spread on a piece of baking paper to cool.
Sprinkle on top of speculoos milk.
I don’t know what it’s like where you are, but here in Berlin it’s been freezing cold these last couple of days. I find myself walking and cycling faster than usual in an attempt to warm up quickly. The down side to this is that when I do get to where I’m going, the sweat is running down my back and I find myself shivering in damp clothes. What helps in situations like these is wrapping ones hands around a hot cup of coffee or tea (whichever I can lay my hands on the quickest) in an attempt to regain some warmth in ones body.
Of course, hot chocolate will also do the trick. So here’s my recipe for the easiest hot chocolate ever.
Get yourself a cup of milk. Any milk. I chose vanilla flavoured soy milk. Then heat it up in the microwave (or use a saucepan) until it’s really hot but not boiling. Whilst you wait, get out the chocolate. Technically, you could use any chocolate but there are two things to consider:
– Make sure it’s good quality chocolate. This doesn’t mean it has to be expensive. You’re looking for a chocolate that doesn’t have a very long list of ingredients. Something that is rather on the purer side.
– Make sure that it’s meltable (is that even a word?). If your chocolate is filled to the brim with add-ons, you might find your hot chocolate less chocolaty and more lumpy with bits of nuts or candy.
Chop up the chocolate, add it to your hot milk and stir. Watch the transformation, it’s beautiful.
And that’s it. The only winter warming tool you’ll ever need.
1 Cup of milk (any kind you like)
approx. 25g chocolate
Heat the milk in the microwave or a saucepan until hot but not boiling
Meanwhile, chop the chocolate in small pieces
Add the chocolate to the hot milk and stir until all the chocolate is melted