Speculoos Reindeer (and Weenies)
Remember when Trader Joe's Cookie Butter was all the rage? Well, it's actually SPECULOOS Cookie Butter, and hey guess what, that's what these little guys are (speculoos cookies---not cookie butter). And if you're anything like me, right now you might be thinking to yourself, "But hey, what are speculoos cookies?" Well, speculoos cookies are classic Belgian cookies that taste almost like a gingerbread cookie (almost--they have a more delicate spice) and have that similar gingerbread crunch. And these particular speculoos cookies are extra awesome as they're, coming to you in the form of reindeer and weenies! Side note: I absolutely picture my reindeer and weenies hanging out in the North Pole with their cute little sweaters sipping on hot apple cider and playing reindeer games.
These Reindeer (and weenies) are so much fun to make and eat. I sent a box over to my neighbor and shortly after, she sent over a photo her reindeer hanging out in a coffee hot tub. (Yes, you should make these and yes, you should have your reindeer do the same thing.) Moses went a different route, opting to have his reindeer sip on his coffee, then immediately decapitating them (boys). I think I'll go with my neighbor's version, it's much...hmmm...sweeter?! Regardless of the way you plan to enjoy your speculoos reindeer, rest assured, you will enjoy them. I had a hard time refraining from enjoying them, even though they were made to be "gifts."
And yes, you can absolutely turn these into gifts of your own! At the end of the week (a.k.a. Friday), I'll round up the rest of this week's cookies and show you how to add a little more FLAIR to your cookie packaging. If you missed Day 01, yesterday, I shared how to package Day 01's Alfajores and make cute little individually wrapped gifts! Rather than share a how to every day, I'm thinking this round up will make it easier for you to quickly reference all the fun and easy ways to give the gift of cookies, so look out for the how-to this Friday!
On a more personal note, if you noticed my absence here for the last few weeks, here's why. My sweet little weenie, Vienna, gave us a bit of a (ok, a huge) scare. We had to rush her over to the animal hospital, three weeks from today ago, and she was in the fight of her little life after that. The vets concluded that she was in acute liver failure and asked us to prepare for the worse. So we did, and it was the worst week imaginable. Vienna spent five days and six nights in the critical care unit and on her sixth day in the hospital, she was finally moved to the b-unit (less critical care needed unit--yayy). On the seventh day, she was released to us with six different medications, a couple of wounds (from her catheters and feeding tube) and the message that she was likely to decline in the somewhat near future. Heartbreaking.
To say I was a mess is a gross understatement. But I'm happy to report that our little Vienna is looking better every day and while her liver enzyme levels were still alarmingly high last week, clinically she looks like she's almost totally back to normal. You may be sitting here reading, thinking, "what caused that poor weenie's liver failure." And we are too because we aren't 100% sure but we suspect, after many rounds of questions from Vienna's vets, that the toxic insult was caused by ingestion of something from the sago palm across the street (maybe a seed). I had no idea what a sago palm even looked like (it's common and it looks like this) and it is extremely poisonous to cats and dogs. It's also extremely palatable to them, which is scary beyond belief. Why am I sharing this with you? I want to warn all you pet owners and lovers to watch out for sago palms. They're planted all along our street and our street has a lot of pet owners, so I'm over here contemplating knocking on doors to ask from them to be removed (but I also don't want to be that crazy neighbor, so we're currently just avoiding them on our walks).
To end this on a happy and positive note, the speculoos weenies were made for Vienna. And they're as cute and as happy looking as she is, so I kind of think they're a must make!!
- 2 c. all-purpose flour
- 1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
- 3/4 tsp. ground ginger
- 1/2 tsp. fine sea salt
- 1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/8 tsp. ground cloves
- 1/2 c. (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/2 c. (packed) light brown sugar
- 1/4 c. sugar
- 2 Tbsp. mild-flavored (light) molasses
- 1 large egg, room temperature
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 tsp. vanilla bean paste
- 2 Tbsp. meringue powder
- 2 1/2 Tbsp. water
- 1/2 lb. powdered sugar
- 1/2 tsp. light corn syrup
- 3 drops almond extract
- Rimmed baking sheets
- Silpat mat or parchment paper
- Stand mixer
- Mixing bowl
- Silicone spatula
- Measuring cups and spoons
- Glass measuring cup
- Bowl scraper
- Plastic wrap
- Rolling pin
- Wire cooling racks
- Piping bag
- 1/8" pastry tip
- Reindeer cookie cutter
- Dachshund cookie cutter
- Combine all-purpose flour, spices, and salt in a medium bowl and whisk together; set aside. In the bowl of your stand mixer beat butter at medium speed until smooth. Shouldn't be more than 2 minutes. Add both sugars and molasses and continue to beat until mixture is smooth and creamy, roughly 3 minutes. Add egg and vanilla; and beat for around 2 minutes. Reduce speed to low; add dry ingredients and mix until fully incorporated.
- Using your dough scraper, scrape dough from bowl and divide into thirds. Form each third into a flat disc and wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Transfer to fridge and let it sit for at least 2 hours.
- Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Arrange racks in top and bottom thirds of oven; preheat to 375°.
- Remove one disc from the fridge and roll out dough to 1/8" thickness. Cut out reindeer and weenies and transfer to a lined cookie sheet. When sheet is full, transfer to the freezer and allow to sit for at least 20 minutes before baking off. Gather scraps and form into a disc and replace in fridge while grabbing second disc.
- Repeat the step above until all dough has been stamped out.
- Bake 2 sheets of cookies at a time, rotating sheets from top to bottom and front to back after 5 minutes. Bake unntil tops are golden brown and centers are almost firm, 10-12 minutes. Transfer cookies to wire racks and let cool completely. Repeat with remaining sheets.
- In the bowl of your stand mixer, whisk together meringue powder and water with a whisk until foamy.
- Attach bowl to stand, sift in powdered sugar and beat in low to combine.
- Add corn syrup and almond extract and increase speed to medium/high. Beat for about 5 minutes until glossy, hard peaks form (make sure not to over beat).
- Transfer to a piping bag fitted with 1/8" tip and pipe onto your reindeer and weenies!
- Let icing dry completely.
- Serve and enjoy or package and gift!