Adapted from Epicurious
It’s the middle of February, so I think it’s safe to start talking about my New Year’s resolution. Not my resolution to wake up early and go running before work every day. Not my resolution to limit my coffee and wine intake to one daily serving each. Not my resolution to get eight hours of sleep. No, those resolutions were crazy and broken in like ten seconds. Today I’m talking about the one resolution I have actually managed to keep. I’m talking about my resolution to break my habit of buying pre-made, store-bought food.
It started with hummus.
To date, I’ve posted three hummus recipes on this blog: roasted yellow pepper, carrot and white bean, and edamame, In each post, I go on and on about how easy it is to make and how you’ll never need to buy the store-bought stuff. And yet, know what ends up in my shopping basket every week? That’s right. A large container of hummus.
One day in late December, I went to the supermarket and saw that they had completely run out. I stood in front of the case for a good minute or two with an open mouth and glazed eyes as if witnessing some sort of apocalyptic tragedy. And then it hit me. I was a total fraud.
At that point, I made a hard and fast decision. Never again. I was done with the store bought hummus. My 2014 resolution was born.
I started with the things I know I can make well: some type of fruit compote and muffins for breakfast, pizza with a delicious topping or two, and obviously, hummus. If I made it once, it’d go on the list of things that I wasn’t going to buy already made in the supermarket.
Since then, it’s been full on. I started making veggie chips. I stopped buying canned beans and started presoaking the dried ones overnight. I now bake my own bread every week.
A few years ago, I spent New Year’s in Amsterdam. It was the first time I had speculoos, which are thin, crispy spiced cookies, and I’ve been a fiend for them ever since. If I’m passing through that part of the world on vacation, I’d bring back boxes. My lovely friends would text me when they find a store here in New York that carries them. It was no joke.
Last night, I polished off the last cookie in the last box of my stash. Usually, I’d start panicking, but this time, I was totally calm. I’d just made a fresh batch.
I had to make a few changes to the recipe. Since nobody is here to help me with the four dozen cookies the original makes, I scaled everything down by a half. Speculoos are a lot like gingerbread, and I like mine with a bit of crushed black pepper, so I added some. Instead of the egg, I swapped out ground flax and water, which sounds strange but is actually a great substitute and prevents you from having to waste half an egg.
I started on these kind of late at night and didn’t want to be bothered with rolling out dough on a messy, floured board, so I stole a tip from a comment in some other recipe that I can no longer find and molded the dough to a form before chilling it so that the cookies could be sliced. (Thank you comment-tip lady, whoever and wherever you are! You are a genius!) I used a coffee mug, and it ended up making a nice log shape.
Also, you know how cookie recipes say to wrap dough in plastic and then chill? Well, I had no plastic wrap, so I cut open a plastic bag and used that instead.
Even with all these changes, the cookies were fantastic. And the moment I pulled the pan out of the oven and that spicy cookie smell hit me in the face, I knew I had stuck to the right resolution.
Ingredients (makes about fifteen to two dozen cookies):
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon ground blackpepper
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cups (packed) dark brown sugar
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/2 tablespoon ground flax seed
- 1 and 1/2 tablespoon water
Make the speculoos:
Combine the first seven ingredients in a medium bowl.
In a small bowl, mix the ground flax seed and the water and set aside.
Beat the brown sugar and butter in large bowl using an electric mixer. Add the flax-water mixture, and then gradually add the dry ingredients. Beat slowly or mix by hand until everything is combined.
Mold the dough into a ball, wrap in plastic, and push it into a coffee mug, making sure the ends of the plastic wrap are sticking out from the top of the cup (you can also just roll it into a freeform log). Freeze for about forty minutes.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet. Pull the dough up from the cup (if using) and remove the plastic wrap. Cut the dough into thin slices using a sharp knife.
Bake ten to twelve minutes at 350 degrees on a lined baking sheet, until the cookies are brown around the edges. Let cool on rack. Whatever you don’t eat immediately can be stored in an airtight container for about a week.