Spice up your life!

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Saint Nicholas is clothed in the liturgical habit of the bishop with his mire and staff

It is that special time of the year; December has started (time flies!). The sun will be pretty much gone but luckily we have come up with tones of activities to warm our bodies and minds. To kick off we have the grand and triumphant arrival of the good old Saint Nicholas, his side kick Peter and bags full of fruit and cookies.

In exchange for a few carrots for his trusty steed, the Grand Saint brings us chocolates, sweets, mandarins and especially Speculoos: the crunchiest treat that tickles our taste buds. This biscuit created in the 17th century is made of 7 spices: star aniseed, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, ginger, nutmeg and pepper.

The use of spices in this recipe harks back to the exotic wave that swept through Northern Europe during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. At that time, spices were extremely expensive and precious products. In addition to gold, they were the reason the greatest sailors in history ventured to the farthest shores.

More than ever, spices are now at the heart of modern and international cuisine. Rich in antioxidants and vitamins, they are used as flavour enhancers and also reduce salt and sugar to make dishes healthier.

 The use of  cinnamon  in pastry flavors biscuits and cakes but also allows us to  reduce the sugar content !

The use of cinnamon in pastry flavors biscuits and cakes but also allows us to reduce the sugar content!

As usual, I have decided to share two delicious recipes that are easy to make at home! As you will have understood, Speculoos is in the spotlight. I have traditionally shaped it in a wooden mold. I have gone the extra mile with this recipe by making a smooth spread! It is a little bit like our local peanut butter or Nutella, Belgian-cocorico, so all the more so as it is a hit beyond our borders. A café in San Francisco is even entirely dedicated to this recipe and is called Biscoff... (a word created with BIScuits and COFfee). The spread was created in 2008 by Danny De Maeyer and Dirk De Smet during a TV competition on VRT.

Fortunately, spices have become more popular, so don't hesitate to add these jewels to your dishes: small but strong!

Speculoos recipe (for 20 cookies)

Speculoos Spread (450g)