Speculaas (spiced biscuits).

Speculaas are highly flavoured buttery spice cookies that were traditionally made with carved wooden moulds. They are native to Belgium and the Netherlands, although very similar cookies are made in Germany, Russia, and several other European countries. If you do not have wooden moulds, you can use modern ceramic moulds, stamps, or even cookie cutters. Adjust the baking time accordingly and carefully watch the first batch of cookies.

1 cup softened unsalted butter
1 1/3 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
3 3/4 cups flour
1 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
2/3 cup finely ground blanched almonds
vegetable oil for oiling moulds
flour for dusting moulds

Cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs and lemon zest. In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, nutmeg, and baking soda. Slowly beat in the dry ingredients and almonds until just blended. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill for 24 hours. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease several baking sheets. Prepare moulds by lightly brushing vegetable oil over the surface and lightly dusting with flour. Shake out the excess flour. Using only enough dough to fit each mould, and keeping the rest refrigerated press the dough into the mould. Firmly press the dough once you have filled the mould to eliminate any air bubbles and cut away any excess dough. Flip the mould over and gently tap to remove the cookie. Place on the prepared cookie sheet. Before filling the mould again, dust with additional flour. Bake the cookies for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the cookies are just starting to turn golden brown on the edges. Remove from the oven and let the cookies sit on the sheets for 3 minutes. Transfer to wire racks and cool completely. Decorate if desired or place in an airtight container.
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