Saturday, November 10, 2012

Speculoos Icebox Pie


My grandmother Georgette is half Belgian and half French, so her cookie jar was always filled with the Belgian/Dutch ginger snap-like windmill cookies, speculaas or speculoos. Later when I studied abroad in France, I was pleased to find that many caf├ęs there served miniature speculoos with coffee, and I've also been given them as a snack on an airplane. Aside from that, I didn't really consider baking them or using them in other recipes. They were something I ate at home for Sinterklaas/St. Nicholas Day on December 6th or when my grandmother brought over a tin on Christmas.

That was until my housemate Bobbie introduced me to Speculoos Cookie Butter. I recall having something like it when I was younger--a jar shipped over from Belgium or bought at the German imported goods store--though I remember it being some type of swirled blend of speculoos cookies and hazlenut, like a gingery Nutella. Speculoos Cookie Butter, however, is a Trader Joe's product (though on the label it indicates its made in the Netherlands, and there are other varieties) made from crushed up speculoos cookies, ground to the texture of peanut butter. It is smooth and buttery, slightly spiced with little granules of sugar, and totally dangerous and really addictive!



I was very excited to find this recipe for Lemon Speculoos Layer Cake by Desserts for Breakfast, and I made it for Bobbie's birthday, as several times now I've caught her in the kitchen with just a spoon and a jar of speculoos. It was really REALLY good, and the use of the cookie butter for the frosting got me thinking...what about a Speculoos Pie??!??

Last winter I made this Nutella Icebox Pie, and I figured that since Nutella and the cookie butter were essentially the same consistency, I could swap out Nutella for Speculoos. I changed the sugar amounts a bit, and added a chocolate ganache on top.



Speculoos Pie

Ingredients
For crust:
1 package Oreos (or chocolate sandwich cookie substitute)
3 Tblsp. butter, melted

For filling:
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 c. powdered sugar + 2 Tblsp.
3/4 c. Speculoos
1 c. heavy whipping cream
1 tsp. vanilla

For chocolate ganache:
3.5 oz. 60-70% dark chocolate (unsweetened), broken into pieces
1/2 c. sugar 
scant 1/2 c. heavy cream 

1 tsp. sea salt


Directions

For crust:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Pulse cookies in a food processor until they form a fairly fine powder. Mix in melted butter and sugar until well incorporated. Pat filling into a 9 or 10-in. pie plate. 

2. Bake crust for about 7 minutes, let cool, then put in the freezer while you prepare the filling.

For filling:
1. In a bowl, mix the cream cheese and 1/2 c. powdered sugar using a hand mixer, about one minute. Add 3/4 cup Speculoos and beat until fluffy, about three minutes (continue even once it's combined so filling gets fluffy). 

2. In a separate bowl, beat 1c. of heavy whipping cream, vanilla, and 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar until stiff peaks have formed- approximately 3-4 minutes. Starting with 1/3 of the whipped cream mixture, fold the whipped cream into the Speculoos mixture. 

3. Once it's combined, add the remaining whipped cream to the Speculoos mixture, folding gently until thoroughly mixed. Pour the mixture into the cookie crust. Freeze pie for about 20 minutes, meanwhile, make the chocolate ganache. 

For chocolate ganache:
1. Put chocolate, sugar, heavy cream, and salt into the top of a double boiler. Put water in the bottom of the boiler and place on medium heat until filling is melted, glossy, and thick.

2. Drizzle the ganache over the chilled pie and place in the freezer  for at least 1 hour. Remove pie from freezer about 20 minutes before serving and serve while still slightly chilled.



I've actually been sitting on this recipe for a while, as it strikes me as a recipe for the holidays, particularly because of the association of speculoos cookies and Sinterklaas Day. Even though it's technically an icebox pie, it would be really wonderful eaten round the fire with a cup of Belgian hot chocolate and a game of Scrabble or Miracle on 34th Street on the television.

 I, however, made it back in September for our friend Joe's going away party in Charlottesville. He was moving to Nashville to join a touring country band, so we needed to celebrate him in style, that is, with a pie and decorative flags citing an old
Hank Williams number. Regardless of what time of year you make it, though, or for what occasion, it'll make whoever you share it with look like a bunch of happy kids who just got a bunch of sweet treats (like a Speculoos Pie) in their wooden shoes.

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