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Speculaas (Belgian Spice Cookies)

4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp cardamom
1/4 tsp ginger
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp white pepper
1 1/4 cups unsalted butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
finely grated zest of 1 medium lemon
2 eggs
1 egg white beaten with 2 tsp. water for glaze. (optional)

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease 2 large baking sheets. In a medium
bowl, combine flour, baking powder, spices, salt and pepper; set
aside. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar together
until light and fluffy. Add lemon zest and eggs, one at a time
beating well after each addition. Add flour mixture 1/2 cup at a
time, blending well after each addition. Turn dough onto a well
floured surface and form into a ball. Cover and let stand 5 minutes.

If using Speculaas molds, generously dust molds with flour making
sure flour gets into the crevices. Invert molds and tap out excess
flour. Press dough into molds; level off with a thin-bladed knife.
Unmold by inverting the mold over the prepared cookie sheet and
firmly tapping. If necessary, use the tip of a knife to loosen the
edge of the dough.

To roll out the cookies, work with half the dough at a time. On a
floured surface, roll one half of dough out into an 18x7 inch
rectangle 1/4 inch thick. Cut into 2x3 1/2 inch rectangles or
using a cookie cutter, cut into desired shapes. arrange cookies
1 1/2 inches apart on prepared cookie sheets. If desired, brush
tops with egg glaze. Bake until golden brown, 6-12 minutes depending
on the thickness and size of the cookie. Cool on racks. Store in
an airtight container at room temperature 1 week. Can be frozen
for longer storage. Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Variation: Add 3/4 cup finely ground almonds to the flour mixture.

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