At work, one of the ladies will usually bring in a packet of biscuits to share for morning tea. Last Friday, the biscuits were Aldi's Spekulatius Cookies, crumbling biscuits with a spicy, European flavour. I took one bite and thought - this would make a superb cupcake flavour!
To my inconvenience, the packet neglected to specify what flavourings were involved in these cookies (it said 'spices'. How useful). I managed to pick out the almond flavour, plus cinnamon and ginger, but was sure I was missing something. One of the ladies had the bright idea of looking on the internet... Which I did, and found copious recipes for Spekulatius and Spekulaas cookies, a German and Dutch Christmas specialty, for which the recipe is usually handed down in families and guarded jealously.
So, these are my attempt to convey those flavours into a cupcake.
150g brown sugar
2 egg whites
225g Self Raising Flour
1/4t baking powder
1/4t almond essence
1/2t vanilla extract
2t ginger honey
Two shakes each of black pepper and cumin
Cream the butter and sugar. Add the egg whites slowly, then add the honey, then slowly the sifted dry ingredients.
Fill cupcake pans 1/2 full and bake for 12 minutes at 180C.
I am SO proud of these cupcakes. They taste almost exactly like the cookies, and have the most amazing melt-in-your-mouth texture. One taster described them as the cupcake version of Melting Moments, at least in terms of texture.
If you're not a fan of the almond flavour (think marzipan) you could easily leave the almond essence out. As it is they have a very distinctive, European, spicy flavour that's just perfect.
Interestingly, I made a complete goof-up on these cupcakes, but they still worked. I realised after I'd put them in the oven and sat down to examine the spices I'd used that the recipe had called for 150mL of milk to be added at the end. Something which I had completely forgotten about. It all turned out fine, but I would be interested to try them again with the milk - I suspect though that they would lose that melt-in-your-mouth quality and become more like a typical cake.
As far as icing, I've not had time for that yet, but I plan to try a cream cheese icing, and if I had some, flaked almonds would be the perfect finishing touch.