Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Lemon Speculoos Layer Cake with Chocolate Sprinkles



The first time I ever encountered speculoos cookies, at a random potluck years ago, I thought that they were disgusting. I had heard so much about how awesome these cookies were from my in-the-know Dutch friends, but, disappointingly, the homemade versions that someone had left on the table were horribly over seasoned and tasted like a shovelful of dry curry powder and ground ginger being forced down my throat. Blech!

Thankfully, my friends later assured me that speculoos were by no means meant to taste that way and that they were indeed very good, so when Trader Joe's started selling speculoos spread this past Christmastime, I very hesitantly put a jar into my shopping basket to take home to try. Plus, how could I resist something labeled and marketed as "cookie butter"?!


To my delight, my second experience with speculoos unfolded much differently from the first: speculoos spread aka cookie butter, it turns out, is delicious. It's like eating cookies in the form of ultra-smooth peanut butter. Joe Black would undoubtedly have appreciated a spoonful of speculoos over a spoonful of peanut butter if he'd known about it, omgdoyourememberthatmovie. Of course, leave it to the Dutch to come up with something like cookie butter, you know, to accompany the chocolate sprinkles they eat on their toast in the morning. Forget fruit loops, this is how you do desserts for breakfast!

[click on photo for a larger image]

Now, as much as I appreciate spreadable cookies, I decided it wasn't a very good idea for me to have an entire jar of it lying around in my cupboards (you know, dessert bloggers have to try to eat healthily every now and then, too!), so I thought I'd try using it up in a lemon speculoos layer cake, with dark chocolate sprinkles that my friend now studying abroad in the Netherlands brought back for me. The result of the combination of lemon and speculoos is bright and sweet, extra creamy with the addition of cream cheese in the frosting, a bit dense from the whole wheat flour in the cake, and punctuated by tiny nuggets of dark chocolate. It's a simple, no frills cake, perfect for an unassuming afternoon of tea-sipping-- or for breakfast, in what I suppose is befitting of the Dutch spirit (I won't tell, promise!).


For those of you in the US hoping to find speculoos spread at Trader Joe's, my local branch informs me that they are currently out of stock until the end of February. But, the good news is that (so the manager told me) the cookie butter isn't a seasonal item, so you won't have to wait until next Christmas to get your hands on some.


Read on for recipe....


Lemon Speculoos Layer Cake with Chocolate Sprinkles
makes one 6-inch, 3 layer cake

for lemon cake:
1 1/4 cups + 2 Tbspn (192.5 gr) whole wheat pastry flour
1 tspn baking powder
1/8 tspn salt
1 stick (8 Tbspn) butter, at room temperature
1 cup (200 gr) sugar
1 tspn fresh lemon zest
2 eggs, at room temperature
1/4 cup + 2 Tbspn whole milk
2 Tbspn freshly squeezed lemon juice

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour three 6 x 2 inch round cake pans, line the bottoms with parchment rounds and grease again. If desired, line the cake pans with bake-even strips. Set aside.
2. In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
3. In a mixer bowl, cream the butter, sugar, and lemon zest together until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes on medium.
4. Add the eggs to the creamed butter one at a time, beating well after each addition.
5. Add the flour in three additions, alternating each with milk and lemon juice.
6. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pans. Bake for 35-40 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes come out cleanly. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes before turning out of the pans and cooling completely.

for speculoos frosting:
1 1/2 sticks (12 Tbpsn) butter, at room temperature
1 cup speculoos spread
3 cups sifted powdered sugar
6 oz. cream cheese, cold
dark chocolate sprinkles

1. Beat the butter until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.
2. Add the speculoos spread and beat until well-combined.
3. Gradually beat in the sifted powdered sugar.
4. Gradually add small chunks of the cold cream cheese, beating well after each addition.
5. Frost cake, adding chocolate sprinkles between each layer and on top.

Note: I've been told that the Trader Joe's version of speculoos spread is less sweet that the versions available in Europe, so this frosting was just the right sweetness for me. If you happen to try out this recipe with non-TJ's speculoos, I'd be very curious to know what you think. To kick up the sophistication a bit more, you could also sprinkle the frosting with a small pinch of flaked sea salt.

Cake recipe is loosely adapted from Magnolia Bakery.


Enjoy!

36 comments:

  1. Trader Joes has speculoos spread?! Wow!  My kids -and husband- would kill for this cake! In my house the one that last uses the spread is known to hide it somewhere so the others won't find it... Wait till they see this cake! Thanks!

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  2. This is such a delicious combination of flavours; your cake is simply stunning.

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  3. I love the Joe Black reference - I often think of him if I sneak I spoon of PB from the jar!

    I've never tried speculoos but it sounds incredible. I think I might have to hunt some down.I'm eating my porridge for breakfast at the moment but you're making me wish I had cake... though I do have a gateau opera in the fridge - and that even has coffee! Definitely good for second breakfast ;)

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  4. My boyfriend is Dutch, and always has a pack of Hagelslag (chocolate skrinkles) in the fridge. Did your friends also introduce you to Stroopwafels? Man, those are amazing! Ask them to bring some back for you from the Netherlands. Beautiful pics as always...
    Maja

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  5. My boyfriend is Dutch, and always has a pack of Hagelslag (chocolate skrinkles) in the fridge. Did your friends also introduce you to Stroopwafels? Man, those are amazing! Ask them to bring some back for you from the Netherlands. Beautiful pics as always...
    Maja

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  6. Katrina @ Warm Vanilla SugarFebruary 7, 2012 at 4:08 AM

    Whoa. This cake looks incredible! 

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  7. this cake seriously couldn't look more perfect...the layers are so even and the frosting?  OH MY!

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  8. Your pictures are absolutely fantastic. I just spent the last 10 minutes getting lost in that lemon picture! I have heard all about Trader Joe's cookie spread and I've decided I need some pronto!

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  9. That speculoos butter sounds absolutely incredible - I need to try it! I've made lemon speculoos ice cream before which is wonderful, but anything in cake form wins hands down. Definitely a cake you can justify eating for breakfast :-)

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  10. In Germany you can buy lots of "Spekulatius" before Christmas. It is an absolute favorite of mine.
    Your cake looks divine. I have herd rumors that we will have Trader Joe's also coming to Colorado. We'll be waiting anxiously.

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  11. Cool. Also, now I've gotta find dark chocolate sprinkles!

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  12. I was so hesitant to try the stuff for fear of being addicted.  Twitterverse got me though, I had to try it.  And, low and behold, I'm addicted.  Im intrigued about the addition of lemon, I must try, that sounds fantastic!

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  13. This cake looks absolutely amazing!  I can not wait to try it!!

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  14. Looks sooooo good! I'm from Holland and remember always getting speculoos biscuits after swimming class:) Glad America found it as well...

    If you want to, check out my blog! It's a combination of healthy food and my beautiful modelfriends :)

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  15. I've seen this cookie butter at trader joes a few times and I never thought they would be as good as it sounded, but I guess they do - especially after the joe black Reference. I guess I'm gonna have to pick myself a jar on march... Or later if the TJs by my house has a surplus of it. Beautiful and drool worthy photos, as usual. :)

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  16. I had my first speculoos cookie recently and was soooooo disappointed with it.  I can't imagine them being good after that experience, but I trust you, so I'll have to give them another try...  At some point :P

    I love how rustically this is frosted, and that close up of the frosting is divine!

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  17. I literally read your blog during breakfast. It's NOT helping me avoid temptations!

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  18. Gonna put my Speculoos to good use after seeing this!

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  19. Could this look any more delicious?   Great photos, as always.

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  20. Speculoos and speculoos spread are Belgian not Dutch :)

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  21. I regret not buying that cookie butter this past holiday season! Definitely will next year...

    This cake looks incredible!

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  22. Cake looks beautiful.  I was at TJ's last weekend and looked for their cookie butter.  Was told it was a seasonal item and would not be available until next holiday season.  They  were also out of their chocolate almond spread but was told that would be available at the end of February. 

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  23. oh no! I hope that the manager I asked didn't get it wrong.... Will have to double check next time I'm at TJ's. Thanks for the heads-up.

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  24. I just got a belated Christmas present that had not one but TWO jars of cookie butter. I wondered why I got two jars for approximately 20 seconds until I opened the first jar. So yeah, now I'm in the calm before the storm, with only one unopened jar left...

    I think this is the perfect recipe to use it. I think perhaps I'll cut the recipe in half and make some cupcakes instead of one huge cake. Yum.

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  25. Holy moley! Cookie butter?! Must. Find. Immediately!

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  26. Lovely pictures... and I'm sure the cake is super yummy too!  Can't wait to try out the recipe!

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  27. This looks divine. Thanks for the recipe, I will try it. I find the lemon/chocolate combo quite interesting. I think I've only had it in lemon mousse with chocolate sauce, and I've got to say I love it.

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  28. How pretty. I wish I could eat a piece right now!

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  29. That Trader Joe cookie butter is so good it should be outlawed!!!

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  30. Your layer cake is incredible! I'm inlove with the frosting... I have featured this post in today's Friday Food Fetish roundup. Let me know if you have any objections and thanks for the inspiration

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  31. My mind is simply blown by this concept...xXx

    blackberryhorse.blogspot.com

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  32. That stuff is vegan gold - and so, so dangerous. Imagine it as sprinkles: as delicate and sweet as unicorn tears! Eet smakelijk.

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  33. You can by this spread in most grocery stores now under the name Biscoff.  They also sell Biscoff cookies.  I tried it recently and am now firmly addicted.

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  34. This looks incredible! I've always wondered about speculoos, but this recipe gives me confidence that it's good stuff.

    xox

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  35. Baking is was out of my league until a year ago where I tried to learn it. Thanks for the share, a friend of mine who happens to have this extreme love for lemon and butter, yeah weird. I will do this for him.

    I'm quite shaking as the recipe looked hard. 

    Ken
    Kare Kare Recipe

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