Dessert Recipes

Speculoos Gelato

August 14, 2012

With the extremely hot summer we’re having, my ice cream addiction is in high gear, going from afternoon cooler to meal substitute when it reaches the 90s! I’ve gone through the range of usual flavors and was feeling slightly bored when my eyes caught a box of Speculoos in the aisle at Whole Foods… mmm. It’s been a long time since I had the pleasure of indulging in these traditional Belgian spice cookies, some of my favorites. At first I grabbed a box thinking how good they would be with vanilla ice cream, perhaps even making mini ice cream sandwiches (meal spoiler alert!)…and then it suddenly came to me, a vision in light brown color of a unique ice cream sold by a dessert truck in the streets of New York. Of course, I was going to make Speculoos ice cream!

If you’ve never had a Speculoos, you’re in for a treat. Known as Belgium’s national cookie, they are thin, crunchy, of a light brown to caramel color and usually spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, cardamom and white pepper. Originally created for children to celebrate Saint Nicholas day, you can now find them year-round on Delta flights (Biscoff cookies), at restaurants and bars with your coffee, and in the form of a controversial spread, a rich nutella-like addictive substance.

Most Speculoos ice cream recipes call for the spread but since I had the cookies already I searched for one that only required them, and 4 other basic ingredients. Speculoos have such a strong, spicy flavor that you really don’t need anything else to complement them. So glad I found a recipe for gelato too, which as opposed to ice cream has less fat and therefore allows the flavors to come out more intense.

The result is a thick gelato with a rich caramel flavor, a very creamy texture, and to me a bit of a Christmassy taste to it too which in August is just grand. It’s one of the simplest gelato recipes I came across and it is major bang for your bucks. In this heat it’s much better to make this in the comfort of your home than hunting down the Waffle and Dinges truck in New York!

Speculoos Gelato

Adapted from Food and Travel Magazine
Active time: 20 minutes
Total time: 3 hours
Makes 4 servings
500ml whole milk
165ml whipping cream
110g Speculoos cookies + extra to serve
160g sugar
1 egg white

Put the milk and cream in a small saucepan and heat gently until it reaches boiling point. Pour into a heat-resistant bowl and chill in the fridge for 20 minutes.

Blitz the cookies to a fine crumb in a food processor.

Use an electric hand whisk to beat together the sugar and egg white in a large mixing bowl until it forms soft peaks when the beaters are lifted out of the mixture. Stir in the cookie crumbs.

Remove the chill milk mixture from the fridge, pour it into the sugar-and-egg mixture and whisk for a further 20 seconds. Pour the mixture into an ice-cream maker and churn-freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Serve topped with a sprinkle of cookie crumbs.

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  • Russell van Kraayenburg August 15, 2012 at 9:31 pm

    I am loving this gelato recipe! yum!

  • Sonya August 16, 2012 at 6:39 am

    I’m an American living in The Netherlands and I am a giant lover of the speculaas cookies you can buy here and I’ve pinned this to make..I know for sure we are going to love this!

    • Sandra August 16, 2012 at 6:54 am

      I’m incredibly jealous you get endless supplies of these amazing cookies! Let me know what you think of the gelato once you’ve made it…I’m pretty sure you’ll be a big fan!

  • ally August 16, 2012 at 3:02 pm

    i had speculoos gelato in spain & have been dreaming about it ever since. now i can actually make it! thanks to your recipe – dreams are coming true!

    • Sandra August 16, 2012 at 4:10 pm

      My pleasure Ally! Hope it’ll live up to your dreams!

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  • linda September 11, 2012 at 8:02 am

    looks like a real treat, great that you shared the recipe! i really love the spices in speculoos cookies (here in germany we call them spekulatius and they are sold during christmas time) but was wondering whether you notice the cookie crumbs a lot in the texture of the ice cream once it has been churned?! i once tried making speculoos ice cream using a belgian brand spread, and it didn’t come out too nice because the spread contained rather/too big cookie crumbs for my liking. the texture wasn’t really smooth and enjoyable, so i’m a bit reluctant to give it another try…

    • Sandra September 11, 2012 at 2:02 pm

      Thanks Linda! The spices are what attracted me to it too! To answer your question, I didn’t really notice the cookie crumbs in this recipe (apart from the ones I liberally sprinkled on top!) and I think it mainly comes from processing the cookies yourself in the food processor which allows them to get to an almost powdery consistency. The end result was pretty smooth so you should give it a try, letting them a bit longer in the food processor if you wish.

  • linda September 20, 2012 at 12:01 pm

    hi again sandra and thanks for your reply! i thought you might like to hear that we gave the recipe a try yesterday – and it was a huge success, i’m really glad you convinced me :) the result was much tastier than when i used the speculoos-spread, the spicies came through really nicely and the texture was very creamy. will be a great excuse to use the ice cream maker even in winter 😉

    • Sandra September 20, 2012 at 8:26 pm

      Hi Linda,

      So glad to hear you loved it! Honestly one never needs an excuse to take out the ice cream maker in winter but happy you found one. 😉