Speculoos Cookie Butter: A Little Bit of Air Travel in a Jar

Delta cookie

Sometimes the choices at the grocery store can get downright overwhelming. Take, for instance, the butter section. I’m not talking about butter butter and I-Can’t-Believe-It’s-Not-Butter butter.

No, I’m talking about the I-can’t-believe-there-are-so-many-alternatives-to-peanut-butter butter. A recent trip to the grocery store (and a follow-up search on the web) introduced me to almond butter, pistachio butter, walnut butter, brazil-nut butter, cashew butter, pecan butter, hazelnut butter, macadamia-nut butter, sesame-seed butter, pumpkin-seed butter, sunflower-seed butter, coconut butter, granola butter, and soy butter.

And then there’s the last-but-not-least variety I haven’t gotten to yet, the one that got me looking in the first place, the one that a coworker brought to work to have us try . . . speculoos cookie butter.

This butter variation is made from crushed speculoos—European shortbread—cookies. If that doesn’t ring a bell, think of the Biscoff cookies you get as an in-flight snack. Oh, the flavor. Oh, the memories.

If you’re looking for speculoos cookie butter in the US grocery aisle, start with Lotus Biscoff Cookie Butter or Trader Joe’s Speculoos Cookie Butter or Wal-Mart’s Great Value Speculoos Cookie Butter. And if you’re more of a DIYer, you can make your own.

Eat a spoonful of speculoos cookie butter and the flavor will transport you to a seat on a flight transporting you to a life-changing destination. But don’t limit it to a spoon topping. Try it on waffles, toast, ice cream . . . or Biscoff Cookies. And there are tons of recipes online with cookie butter as an ingredient.

Need more inspiration? Take a look at these websites and videos. And there’s a lot more out there. When it comes to speculoos cookie butter, the sky’s the limit.

50 Ways to Use Trader Joe’s Speculoos Cookie Butter

30 Incredible Desserts to Make with Cookie Butter, the World’s Most Addictive Spread

25 Cookie Butter Recipes to Make ASAP

[photo: “IMG_9255,” by adaenn, used under a Creative Commons license]


A DIY Banquet of Global Proportions, $1 at a Time


I had to go back a second time to get the spelling from the lady handing out servings of her dish. She was standing at the Middle East table, sponsored by the Islamic Society of Joplin, part of the World Cuisine and Music Festival at Missouri Southern State University.

The music included an African marimba band, a mariachi band, a Chinese ensemble, and a Caribbean steel drum group.

And the food . . . well here are the five  $1 dishes that I chose for my meal:

Iraqi Beryani

2448042544_34a53a326a_qFirst there was the Iraqi Beryani. There are many versions of beryani (also spelled biryani), depending on the area of the world, but the cook wanted to make sure I knew the one she was serving was the Iraqi variety. It had long-grain rice, chicken, peas, potatoes, and—a surprise to me—almonds and raisins. All the spices and flavors worked so well together that I came home and Googled how to make it on (that’s why I had to double-check the spelling).

I found several recipes, but the one that seems closest to the dish I sampled is from “Chef Zina,” highlighted on the website of CWS. Another recipe option is at the Nestlé Middle East site. More from Nestlé later.

Tea Eggs

8493882246_3ddc931fcb_qAt the Chinese table, I spotted some tea eggs (also called five-spice eggs). They’re not exactly a delicacy, but I couldn’t pass up the chance to have one. It had been a few years since I’d picked up my last one from the brown-stained rice cooker sitting on the counter of a 7-Eleven in Taipei. For those who aren’t familiar with tea eggs, they’re hard-boiled eggs soaked in tea seasoned with soy sauce and a mixture of spices. The shells are cracked, letting the tea soak into the eggs, flavoring them and giving them a marbled brown color. If you’d like to make your own, I found a fairly simple recipe at Kirbie’s Cravings. (It calls for Chinese five spice, which my wife says is easy to find.)

A Couple Dishes from the Pros

Along with the MSSU faculty, staff, and students who provided dishes for the festival were local restaurants. From M & M Bistro I got a snack-sized version of their “Mediterranean Platter.” Go to their page for photos from the event.

And from Flavors International Cuisine, specializing in Indian-Pakistani dishes, I got chicken curry and rice. (I see on their site that they also serve biryani at their restaurant. Need to give that a try.)

No recipes here, just recommendations for two good places to eat.

Chocolate Mousse 4248844482_20e315935d_q
Finally, my five-course meal was complete with a cup of chocolate mousse from the Belgian table. It was served in a small, clear plastic cup. I’m pretty sure that if I had been in a fancy restaurant, and the same dessert had been in a champagne flute, topped with whipped cream and a sprig of mint, it could have sold for 5 times as much as the $1 price tag.

So how can I make my own mousse to impress my friends and neighbors? The answer, it seems, is easier than I would have thought. NPR reported last month that the secret to authentic “rich, creamy, dark, dreamy, delicious chocolate mousse,” as Dorie Greenspan, author of Around My French Table, describes it, is not a secret at all. Greenspan, who has lived part time in Paris for 16 years, says that it took nearly all of one of those years to get a good friend to reveal her recipe. But finally she handed it over, literally. Her friend gave her a Nestlé chocolate bar, and on the back of the wrapper was “the recipe for the mousse every savvy French cook makes.” The ingredients are simple: bittersweet chocolate, eggs, salt, and sugar. That’s it.

Now that I have the recipes, I’m motivated to do some cooking, or at least see if I can beg my wife into doing it for me. It remains to be seen if I’ll actually get it done. I’m already looking forward to next years festival.

(“Paris Confidential: The Mystery Mousse behind the Chocolate Bar,” All Things Considered, NPR, February 13, 2014)

[photos: “Biryani Rice,” by Maria, used under a Creative Commons license; “Chinese Marbled Tea Egg,” by Kattebelletje, used under a Creative Commons license;  “Chocolate Mousse.” by Ulrika, used under a Creative Commons license]

Cooking Up a Trip “Around the World”

8050162462_87cdc95d86_nBack when I was a kid, waaaaay back before self-serve soda dispensers, we used to ask our friends behind the counter for an “Around the World.” That meant we wanted a little bit of every flavor in one cup. Can’t say that it tasted so great, but it was fun. I see that others call it a “Suicide” or “Swamp Water.” As I said, it wasn’t the flavor that made us order it.

This past weekend, my family and I were at a Burger King that had a “Coca-Cola freestyle,” serving over 100 flavors of drinks out of one machine. It’s just one example of how our kids’ globe is shrinking. My Around the World recipe had only about six ingredients. Now there’s a lot more “world” available for them to go “around.”

So much for my intro. What I’m really looking at in this post are other kinds of recipes—ones that don’t make an Around the World, but ones that come from around the world. Want to cook up some piri-piri sauce, vartabit, or bun ho? Here are some recipe sites I’ve found that will show you how, and take you on a world tour along the way. (Each of these sites is searchable by ingredient, recipe name, or country, and a couple have background information on each region and its food.)

And in honor of the tradition that’s become a part of this time of the year—putting pumpkin flavor in just about everything that’s edible—here are some pumpkin recipes, one from each site:

Who knows, maybe Coca-Cola will take a cue from Maine Root Handcrafted Beverages and add another soda flavor to their drink machine: Pumpkin Pie.

[photo: “Pumpkin carrot soup with cheddar, fried apples & pumpkin seeds,” by Blake JaBB, used under a Creative Commons license]