Thursday, October 11, 2012

Artisanal Gluten Free Flour and Speculaas (Biscoff!)

Have you hopped on the Biscoff bandwagon yet? Truth be told, I haven't seen these Belgian spice cookies anywhere around here (the only Canadian stores are those out west, according to the website) but the fever is rampant in the food blog sphere. I can kind of see why - it's hard to go wrong with a good, spicy crisp cookie, but like the snickerdoodle and Nutella manias a few years back I don't really get what made them that popular all of a sudden. After all, they are a classic cookie - first marketed in 1932 - and undoubtedly Belgian grootmoeders (grandmas) were making them at Christmas for at least a hundred years before that.

So what is Biscoff, anyways? Well, the traditional name for the cookie is speculaas, and is a caramelized-sugar and spice cookie with a texture similar to a gingersnap and a flavour not all that much different. These are a good spice-cabinet emptier for would-be bakers: cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, cardamom and even pepper (white or black, depending on the region) find a home inside, along with a hint of almond extract and a dash of rum. I have an old recipe that uses whole wheat flour and baker's ammonia, which I have yet to try but hope to for the holidays... but what if you can't buy up some of the storebought cookies due to celiac disease or a vegan diet?

Thankfully, there's a fabulous recipe in Artisanal Gluten-Free Cooking by Kelli and Pete Bronski that also uses their signature flour blend. I had to slightly modify the blend based on what we had on hand, and changed up the cookie a tad to make it vegan and add the traditional white pepper. The smell in the kitchen smacked of the holidays and I knew it would be a great addition to this week's roundup of 12 weeks of Christmas Treats (#12WksXmasTreats). The irony of this was that when I brought some of the cookies to the girls at my hair salon and told them they were speculaas / Biscoff cookie clones, not a single one knew what they were! Spice cookies, though, are universal, and with the hints of rum, almond and coconut (I used coconut butter) tempering the spice a bit they were a hit.

I baked these cookies both from refrigerated and frozen dough, and both work well. You can also freeze the cookies once they're baked (I would not suggest longer than 4 months), though I do like the idea of fresh-baked cookies a bit better. You have two options for freezing the dough - what I like is to refrigerate the log of dough until firm, slice it and re-arrange the slices into a log that you wrap in plastic, then heavy duty foil, and freeze. This way it's easier to "slice" (AKA break apart) the cookies into even pieces and bake from frozen. You can of course freeze the solid log of dough, though you may want to thaw it partially for a few hours on the counter) before trying to cut it. Frozen dough, if well wrapped, will keep in the freezer up to 6 months without problem.

Make sure to check out our Pinterest board for more inspiration!

Gluten Free Speculaas (Biscoff!)
Makes 20
1 cup Artisan Gluten-Free Flour Blend (see below)
2/3 tsp guar gum
2/3 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp ground white pepper
pinch salt
1.3 oz Earth Balance Coconut Butter (I liked the aspect of flavour with this)
1.3 oz non-hydrogenated shortening (I used Spectrum)
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
dash GF almond extract
2 tsp rum
  1. Sift together the flour, guar gum, spices, and salt. Set aside.
  2. In a bowl, beat together the Earth Balance, shortening and sugar until fluffy. Add the almond extract and rum.
  3. Add the dry ingredients and beat to a crumbly dough.
  4. Shape into a log, wrap well in plastic wrap, and refrigerate 1-4 hours (alternatively, freeze at this point for later baking).
  5. Preheat the oven to 350F and line baking sheets with parchment (do not grease).
  6. Slice cookies 1/4" thick and place on the sheets 1" apart
  7. Bake for 12 minutes. Cool completely on the sheets. 
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 56.1
Total Fat: 2.8 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 9.2 mg
Total Carbs: 8.3 g
Dietary Fiber: 0.4 g
Protein: 0.4 g

Artisan Gluten-Free Flour Blend
Adapted from Artisanal Gluten-Free Cooking by Kelli and Pete Bronski
Makes about 3 cups
1 cup brown rice flour
1 cup sorghum flour
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/3 cup tapioca starch
1/4 cup potato starch
1 tbsp + 1 tsp potato flour
1 tsp guar gum
  1. Mix all the ingredients.
  2. Keep in an airtight container in the pantry. 
Amount Per Cup
Calories: 499.2
Total Fat: 2.7 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 12.4 mg
Total Carbs: 112.2 g
Dietary Fiber: 6.3 g
Protein: 9.8 g


  1. These cookies look so good. I use millet flour a lot, so maybe I can try it with these.

  2. Since I can´t get biscoff spread I love the idea of this cookies. Spicy sweet makes a great cookie, wonderful recipe!


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