Spectacular Speculaas Spice Cookies, Gluten Free

From way back I was a fan of those grocery store windmill cookies (don’t judge). That they were a special holiday cookie in Holland or anywhere else never crossed my childhood mind. Not much crossed my childhood mind, actually.

Whirl forward in that amazing machine called time-flies. I recently had a craving for that crispy-spicy-gingery-molasses-with-almonds-stuck-in-it windmill cookie. But they had to be gluten-free. It was time to figure out what they were so I could recreate them in the GF Canteen kitchen.

What I didn’t know is that there is an entire universe out there devoted to this cookie, Speculaas and its various cousins.  Getting caught up in the enthusisam I ordered the windmill mold from this place. It came with a great recipe and instruction booklet. How hard could it be?

But me and written instructions? We have a long wretched history.  I am one of those people who need pictures of how stuff is supposed to look. Pictures. Louder than words.

The cookie and its cousins, the Springerle et al, call for some mighty odd ingredients like Hartshorn which is baking ammonia.  I also ordered that but haven’t used it yet (and truth be told I’m a little chicken after I read about the smell that goes away once the cookies are dry…huh?).

After a couple of recipe iterations and a whole lot of grinching, I did get the hang of using the mold without cutting off my fingers, but unless you love standing in the kitchen making one cookie at a time for endless hours, you might try a few and do what I did to the rest of the dough.

Chill, roll, chill, cut, chill and bake.

I have much admiration for those who have patience to use these fabulous molds- kudos to you guys. And just for the record – these will probably be the only windmill cookies from my kitchen. Ever. But aren’t they adorable?

I adapted my Speculaas creation from the recipe that came with the windmill mold here and also from Dorie Greenspan’s Around my French Table here. And of course, I forgot the almonds. But hey – it’s a still a great windmill cookie.

Spectacular Speculaas Spice Cookies, Gluten Free
The dough benefits from chilling. Overnight is best and easiest. Makes life easier having dough in the refrigerator you can pull out and bake. I love the smell of the dough once everything mingles - it smells exactly like a holiday should, all spicy and delicious. Remember, chilling is your best friend with this dough - it is sticky and annoying, but chill, roll, chill again and make the cut-outs and chill if it gets too warm. Bake and decorate to your heart's content. This dough can be made into any cut-out shape you wish, or you can roll them into logs, refrigerate and just cut slices to bake. Whatever you wish.
  • 205 grams GF Flour (130 g superfine brown rice flour, 40 g tapioca flour, 35 grams GF oat flour) (about 1.5 to 2 cups lightly scooped flour)
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 tablespoons cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • ½ teaspoon ground mace
  • ¼ teaspoon powdered lemon peel
  • 85 grams unsalted butter, room temperature ( about 7 tablespoons)
  • 175 grams dark brown sugar (about ¾ cup packed)
  • 50 grams white sugar (about ¼ cup)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 drop natural Anise oil (or ½ teaspoon anise flavoring)
  • Your favorite Royal Frosting and decorations
  1. Weigh flours and add baking soda, salt, spices and mix well. Set aside. Cream butter and sugars together in a stand mixer bowl until well incorporated and fluffy. Add the egg and mix a bit more until fully incorporated. Add the anise oil and mix well. Add the dry stuff on low just until mostly mixed. Using a spatula, scrape down sides and turn the mixture over a few times to make sure all the dry stuff is mixed in. The dough will be very sticky. Don't worry about that for now. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate overnight for best results, but at minimum, 4 hours.
  2. Preheat oven to 350. Line a few baking sheets with parchment. Remove dough from the refrigerator and break into thirds. Leave remaining dough in the refrigerator while you work with one piece.
  3. Taking a parchment liner from a baking sheet, plop dough in the center. Cover with plastic wrap. Using a rolling pin, press down on the dough from the center out to get it moving without tearing. Roll as well you can to the edges of the parchment under the plastic wrap. When you get to that point, slide the whole thing back onto the baking sheet and refrigerate until well chilled. Take it out of the refrigerator, place the parchment on the counter surface and set the baking sheet aside for a moment. Remove plastic wrap carefully. Cut out circles, squares or whatever shapes you want - but quickly. Remove the extra pieces (I found that the dough rolled up as I moved it). Don't touch the cut-outs - leave them right where they are. This part is a major pain, but it goes quickly after you get an idea of how to remove the extra dough between the cut-outs. Once it is nice and clean, move parchment back to baking sheet. With dough this thin and fragile, always a good idea to roll and cut out shapes directly on the parchment that it bakes on. If it is too warm, give it a chill in the refrigerator for a few minutes before baking.
  4. Bake 5 minutes and rotate. Bake about 3-5 minutes more or just until they look crispy. Remove and let cool for a minute. Remove to a rack to cool completely.
  5. Frost with your favorite holiday royal icing and decorate any way that makes you happy.


  1. Brenda Hart Neihouse says:

    Thanks for posting. Both my parents were Dutch and I grew up eating the real thing shipped from Holland or when desperate, those same windmill cookies you ate. I have a set of speculaas molds, much bigger than the ones you are using, but have yet to adapt my cookie recipe for GF. Now I don’t have to — thanks. It was hard enough making these cookies with gluten in the dough, I can imagine how tough this dough is to handle without gluten. I will try the recipe in the next few weeks and I hope all goes as well as your samples. Happy Holidays.

    • GlutenFreeCanteen says:

      Hi Brenda – I would love to have had a real Windmill cookie – I had no idea (sadly). But the GF dough was not bad to handle after it spent time in the refrigerator – I added a little bit more tapioca starch to the dough as I was working with the mold and it didn’t seem to suffer much from the additional starch. I found that using nonstick spray on the mold did not work as much as using nonstick spray – wiping it all off and then dusting with tapioca starch and tapping it out first. I didn’t spray more than one time, but used the dusting with starch method for each cookie. The cookie dough seemed to almost fall out with little trouble most of the time and I used a more gentle touch with the knife. I did have to push in all the edges to the center a little bit to get it to come out. Don’t be afraid to add a little more starch to the dough as you work it – my goal was to be able to handle it without it sticking like batter to my hands (dough stickiness is something else). Would love to know how it worked for you once you get to it. Thanks! And happy holidays!

  2. I am excited to try these! Baking gluten-free is particularly tricky in our house: I’m sensitive to corn starch and my husband and daughter are sensitive to potato starch and one or the other seems to always be in cookie recipes. It’s a shocker that we can all eat these! 🙂 Cheers!

    • GlutenFreeCanteen says:

      I’m not a fan of cornstarch (It doesn’t like me) so I rarely use it anymore. And neither of us do well with potato although in a pinch I might use it. Tapioca or arrowroot is what we use now. You can always switch out the starches to what you can use if the weight/amount is indicated in the recipe. glad you like these : )


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