Saturday, April 16, 2011

Belgium Month: Spéculoos Spread

George Washington Carver was a bit of a one trick pony. He was a genius, but imagine if his innovations had explored markets other than peanuts. Imagine if, after he invented peanut butter, he looked at other food items and reasoned that they too could be grinded into a paste and eaten on bread. Now imagine he did this with cookies.

Fortunately, George Washington Carver’s one shortcoming has been redeemed by Els Scheppers of Belgium. She concocted a recipe for a smooth spread made from spéculoos cookies (also known as biscoff), entered her recipe on a Belgian reality television show (“De Bedenkers,” or “The Inventors”) and won. Lotus, the major mass distributor of spéculoos, took notice and went into business with Scheppers. As elaborated upon in the New York Times article I used as reference, the paste has been quite successful, resulting in multiple, equally successful imitators.

Americans may be familiar with spéculoos/biscoff cookies as the cookies they sometimes get on airplanes. The flat, cinnamon cookies with crystallized sugar also have their diluted dollar store variety, Dutch windmills. To give full disclosure, I do not find the cookies themselves to be very special; I will continue to eat them when served by flight attendants, but it is highly unlikely I will purchase them for consumption while anchored to earth by gravity. What’s amazing is that the spread, which has a consistency not unlike Nutella and peanut butter, transcends its cookie counterpart. I actually find it difficult to stop eating the spread once I start, a problem I honestly don’t have with most other foods, including desserts. Pictured are two “dead soldiers” that fell victim to my obsessive compulsive spéculoos eating disorder (OCSED).

And, St. Nicholas be praised, the spread is available stateside! The American variety has a slightly less crystally and slightly oilier texture than what I purchased in the Belgium airport. (Actually, I purchased it twice. First at the airport grocery store, but security confiscated my solid food item for being a liquid. Second at the duty free shop, which I visited immediately after having the first jar taken away.) The European variety had a more robust flavor, which I would identify as being somewhere between molasses and that “baked cookie” taste. Both were good enough for me skip the gluten middle man and eat directly from the jar.

1 comment:

Cart Ridge said...

What a neat post! Looking forward for more post from you. Thank you for sharing!