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The Irresistible Taste of Speculoos: Exploring its Unique Flavours and Origins

flavour & aroma May 22, 2024
Speculoos biscuits with their characteristic dark brown colour

Introduction

Speculoos is a traditional biscuit that has gained immense popularity worldwide under the brand Lotus Biscoff, as a biscuit, a spread, and through cross-branding.

However, many people associate speculoos biscuits only with Lotus Biscoff, and that's a mistake!

There is much more to discover about this biscuit with its unique blend of caramelic and warm spice notes that make it really special.

In this blog post, we will deep dive into the world of speculoos and speculaas biscuits, exploring their origins, ingredients, and, most importantly, their flavour profile and potential pairings.

For Food & Beverage start-ups and SMEs founders, understanding the true flavours of Speculoos and Speculaas can enhance your product development (new or existing product development) and help you craft a unique flavour profile for your own products.

 

 

What is Speculoos/Speculaas?

Traditional Speculaas wooden mould from the Netherlands to shape the biscuits as windmills

I can't talk about speculoos without explaining its origin and how it started with another biscuit: speculaas.

Speculaas, originated from Belgium and the Netherlands, is a traditional biscuit made with caramelised sugar and a variety of spices, with a characteristic dark brown colour.

Each baker used to have their own special blend of spices, which typically consisted of cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, aniseed, white pepper, coriander, and sometimes ginger, cardamom, and mace.

Traditionally, speculaas are shaped using wooden carved moulds, giving them their distinctive designs. One of the most popular shapes in the Netherlands is of course a windmill, which is why they are often referred to as Dutch Windmill Cookies.

While speculaas cookies are enjoyed throughout the year in many regions, they hold a special significance in Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany during the winter period, especially during the feast of Saint Nicholas and Christmas.

It is during this time that the speculaas cookies are often shaped in the form of the bishop Saint Nicholas.

A French bakery in Brussels was the first to introduce the word Speculoos, which is a translation of the word speculaas. As a result, Speculaas and Speculoos are synonymous in most regions of Belgium.

Decades later, the Belgian bakery Lotus, launched its own version of speculoos biscuits. They transformed the traditional recipe by using a smaller amount of cinnamon and more butter.

This resulted in a lighter spice flavour, a more caramel-like taste, and a softer texture compared to traditional speculoos/speculaas biscuits.

Originally individually wrapped and served with coffee in restaurants, the speculoos biscuit was renamed Biscoff, a combination of the words 'biscuit' and 'coffee'.

Today, when people refer to speculoos, they are usually referring to the Lotus Biscoff. However, it is important to note that this is not the same as the traditional speculoos or speculaas biscuit.

 

 

Speculoos/Speculaas Flavour profile

The difference between windmill cookies from the Netherlands and their unique blend of spices and the classic Lotus Biscoff with its hint of cinnamon.

For me, both Lotus Biscoff and the French equivalent from LU had a caramelic flavour with medium to strong burnt sugar notes. In particular, the Lotus Biscoff had a more prominent cinnamon undertone along with woody and herbal notes. Overall, they tasted like candy floss to me.

Most of the speculaas I have tried had caramelic and molasses notes, a strong blend of spices, mainly cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, clove, cardamom, and coriander seeds, as well as subtle citrus undertones. The spice blend was definitely more pronounced compared to Lotus Biscoff.

Product tasted: 

🔸Lotus biscoff
🔸LU le petit biscotte
🔸Albert Heijn, roomboter speculaas molens
🔸Jumbo, bakkers speculaas
🔸Bolletje, schudde buikjes speculaas 
🔸Echte Bakkers speculaas

 

Speculoos/Speculaas Flavour pairing

You can use actual speculoos/speculaas biscuits or speculoos/speculaas flavourings, especially if you are currently using caramel or mixed spices flavourings.

Speculoos or speculaas can be paired with:
Speculoos or speculaas can be paired with:Other brown flavours like vanilla, chocolate and coffee. Nutty flavours like peanut, cashew nut, almond, walnut and popcorn. Fruity flavours like apple, pear, pineapple, coconut, orange, banana, and fig. And Meat flavours like lamb or pork.

 

 

Conclusion

So next time you need a flavour sample of a speculoos biscuit or request actual speculoos biscuits, avoid going straight to Lotus Biscoff.

Instead, explore the wide variety of spice blends and caramel flavours to create one that truly resonates with your R&D project, your brand and your target consumers.

 

 Link to related blogs you may enjoy

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🔶 Uncovering The Flavours Of Chocolate Series | The Impact Of Cacao Variety & Genetic

 

References

Speculaas or Speculoos, that is the question, Regula Ysewijn, December 2023, https://regulaysewijn.substack.com/p/speculaas-or-speculoos-that-is-the

Anna Oonagability, Biscoff vs. Speculaas - Uncovering the Difference, June 2023, https://www.oonagabilitytriffeliz.com/biscoff-vs-speculaas.html

Speculaas Spice Mix recipe, Cakies' by Rachel, https://cakieshq.com/recipe/speculaas-spice-mix/ 

Wikipedia, Speculass, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speculaas

Is it speculaas or speculoos? Lotus Biscoff, https://www.lotusbiscoff.com/en-gb/faq/it-speculaas-or-speculoos

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