With all the delicious and rich holiday dishes to enjoy – Christmas pudding, glazed ham, mulled wine and eggnog – I like to keep my holiday cookies simple. Traditional spice cookies called Speculaas are my sweet of choice. My paternal German grandmother Erna would lovingly bake Speculaas cookies and mail them in Christmas tins every year when I was little. But another reason I love them is that hiding among the requisite butter and sugar are skin-friendly spices that will make your complexion glow.
Speculaas cookies are traditionally baked to honor St. Nicholas Day on the 6th of December in the Netherlands and neighboring countries. The soft biscuits are made with a festive mix of warming beauty spices that are beneficial for skin, including cinnamon, star anise, ginger, cardamom and nutmeg.
Cinnamon, or cassia, is filled with antioxidants that fight aging free radicals. Star anise, used historically for a number of skin diseases, has potent antimicrobial properties. Ginger aids digestion, is high in skin-repairing Vitamin C and provides potent levels of anti-inflammatory compounds. Cardamom nourishes the skin and helps the body eliminate toxins that can keep skin from glowing. And nutmeg offers trace minerals and helps with scarring and acne (Note: a little nutmeg goes a long way, so use sparingly).
One of the best Speculaas recipes I have found is this one on the Joy of Baking blog. Instead of using the spices in the recipe, however, I use 1 ¾ teaspoons of the St. Nicholas Spekulaas ground spice mix by Gewurzhaus, which has the addition of coriander, allspice and clove. I keep my dough in the fridge for two days to really let the spices blend before baking. You can also get fancy and buy beautiful molds for your Speculaas cookies or just press them into rounds.
While your cookies are baking, why not put any extra spices to good use and make a Cinnamon, Honey and Nutmeg mask? This homemade beauty treatment is particularly good for skin dealing with breakouts or tender inflammation, not for sensitive types.
From all of us at blossom jar, we wish you a Tasty and Merry Christmas!