Winter is coming – the skies have turned grey, the temperature has dropped, and I’ve retrieved my winter coat from the back of the closet. But it’s not all bad news – along with the cold weather come Dutch winter season and Christmas pastries.
The stall selling oliebollen has reappeared on the main square near our house and the bakery at the end of our street has a sign up advertising gevulde speculaas (literally translated as “filled cookies”). I rushed into buy one of my favourite Dutch pastries and savoured it with a cup of fresh-brewed coffee.
Gevulde speculaas is similar in spirit to gingerbread in that it is the traditional baked good for the Dutch holiday Sinterklaas (Saint Nicholas) on December 5th. But it kicks gingerbread’s ass.
On the outside you have two thin cake layers made from a dough containing the same spices used for speculaas cookies – cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, and white pepper. On the inside you have a soft, sugary almond paste filling. And for good measure, you throw a few more almonds on top. It’s heavenly.