German Spice Cookies (Spekulatius)

German spice cookies recipe

The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  • Total: 42 mins
  • Prep: 30 mins
  • Cook: 12 mins
  • Yield: 8 dozen cookies (96 servings)

Spekulatius cookies are traditional Christmas spice cookies in Germany, although in the Netherlands (where they are known as spekulaas) and the U.S., they are available all year long as "Dutch Windmill Cookies."

Spekulatius is related to the Latin word speculum, meaning "mirror." Since the cookies are formed in a bas-relief carved wooden mold, a mirror image of the mold becomes the cookie. 

This easy recipe for German spice cookies has easy-to-find ingredients for the Stateside hausfrau. Make spekulatius cookies in traditional molds or roll the dough and cut with cookie cutters but, for best flavor, let the dough sit overnight before rolling, cutting and baking.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla sugar
  • 7 ounces butter (room-temperature)
  • 2 large eggs (room-temperature)
  • 4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baker's ammonia (or 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, single acting or double acting)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

Steps to Make It

Note: while there are multiple steps to this recipe, these cookies are broken down into workable categories to help you better plan for preparation and cooking.

Make the Dough

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for cookies
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck
  2. In a large bowl, cream granulated sugar and vanilla sugar with butter until well combined.

    Cream granulated sugar
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck
  3. Beat in eggs, one at a time.

    Beat in eggs
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck
  4. Sift or whisk together flour with baker's ammonia or baking powder, salt, cinnamon, cloves, and cardamom.

    Sift flour
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck
  5. Stir into creamed mixture until it forms a stiff dough.

    Stir into mixture
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck
  6. Shape dough into a ball, cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 or more hours (overnight is best).

    Shape dough into ball
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

Shape the Cookies

  1. Oil and flour a spekulatius mold. Tap out all excess flour.

    Flour mold
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck
  2. Roll a golf ball-size piece of dough between your lightly floured hands into an egg shape. Press the dough into the mold, filling all crevices.

    Press dough in
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck
  3. Use a sharp knife or piece of kitchen twine to cut off excess dough, so the dough is flush with mold. Tap the mold on the counter to release the cookie, or use a sharp knife to start the release of cookie.

    Cut off excess
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck
  4. Carefully place the cookie on a cookie sheet and repeat with the rest of the dough.

    Cookies on tray
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck
  5. If this process becomes too onerous, or you do not own any cookie molds, roll the dough 1/8 inch thick (2 to 3 ml) and cut out cookies using your favorite cookie cutters.

  6. Bake in an oven heated to 350 F for 10 to 12 minutes or until the cookies brown slightly around the edges. These cookies can be decorated like conventional sugar cookies, but the old-fashioned mold imprints should not be overshadowed, nor should the delicate flavor of the dough be masked.

    Cookies on tray
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck
  7. Serve and enjoy!

    German spice cookies
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

Tip

  • Store cooled cookies tightly covered. Because of the spices, they should keep for a long time.