Gevulde Speculaas (Speculoos Stuffed with Almond Paste)

Today was my birthday and in the Netherlands it is customary (although not everyone complies) to treat your co-workers to cake on your birthday. This cake can be store-bought or homemade, and it’s easy to guess what I chose. I love gevulde speculaas, which is spiced sweet shortbread (speculaas or also known as speculoos outside the Netherlands), stuffed with almond paste. Speculaas is very Dutch, as it celebrates the spices that were imported by the Dutch (from today’s Indonesia) in the 17th century. It is very popular around the St Nicholas celebration (December 5). The spice mix contains many of the spices that were very exotic back then: cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, cardemom, and white pepper. The combination with almonds works very well.

I’ve made gevulde speculaas before, but this time it turned out even better than before because I used the recipe of famous but retired pastry chef Holtkamp. A number of factors are important to good stuffed speculaas:

  • Allowing the dough to ‘ripen’ in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours to allow the flavors to develop (and the dough to rest);
  • The right proportion of speculaas to almond paste (i.e. a thick layer of almond paste between thin layers of speculaas);
  • Using enough of the spice mix (which is often not the case in cheap store-bought versions);
  • Using actual butter and actual almonds (which is often not the case in cheap store-bought versions).

The speculaas spice mix and almond paste needed to make this may not be available where you are, but you can easily make them yourself.

The gevulde speculaas was spectacular and very popular at the office today. Here’s how I made it. The only difference with Holtkamp’s recipe is that I made a square rather than a round version and that I used a stand mixer.


For a 25 cm (10″) square

For the speculaas dough

400 grams (2 1/2 cups) pastry flour

225 grams (1 1/4 cup) brown sugar or cane sugar

4.5 grams (5/8 tsp) salt

30 grams (4 Tbsp) speculaas spice mix (to make it yourself, mix 8 tsp ground cinnamon, 2 tsp ground nutmeg, 2 tsp ground cloves, 1 tsp ground ginger, 1 tsp ground cardemom,1 tsp ground white pepper; this will make 5 Tbsp so you will have some left over)

7 grams (1 3/4 tsp) baking powder

200 grams (14 Tbsp) butter, at room temperature, cubed

30 ml (2 Tbsp) water

For the stuffing and topping

600 grams (1.3 lbs) almond paste, cubed (to make it yourself, coarsely grind 300 grams (2 cups) blanced almonds with 300 grams (1 1/2 cups) sugar and then continue to grind while you add a beaten egg until it has the right texture; allow the flavors to develop in the refrigerator for at least four days)

50 grams (3 1/2 Tbsp) butter, melted

1 egg, beaten

45 ml (3 Tbsp) water

25 blanched almonds, for decoration


Combine the flour, speculaas spice mix, salt, and baking powder in a bowl.

Whisk to mix (this eliminates the need to sift the flour).

Combine the butter, brown sugar and water in the bowl of the stand mixer.

Mix with the paddle attachment until the mixture is creamy.

Add the flour mixture.

Continue to mix with the paddle attachment…

…until the dough has come together.

Transfer the contents to a work surface.

Shape the dough into a ball. Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 24 hours to allow the flavors to develop. Take the dough out of the refrigerator about an hour before you’d like to proceed, otherwise it will be too tough to work with.

When you are ready to proceed, combine the almond past with about 2/3 of the beaten egg and the water in the bowl of the stand mixer.

Mix with the paddle attachment to ‘loosen up’ the almond paste.

The almond paste should become smooth without any hard pieces.

Divide the dough into two equal pieces. Take one piece and shape it into a thick square with your hands. Sprinkle a wooden work surface with flour and use a rolling pin to roll out the dough into a square of 25 by 25 cm (10 by 10 inches).

To keep the dough square, make sure to use the rolling pin in both the oblique…

…and straight directions.

Check with the square pie shape you are going to use whether you have rolled out the dough to the right size. It is very likely that you won’t be able to roll out into an exact square.

To fix this problem, roll it out such that some parts are bigger and cut those off.

Use the parts you cut off to patch those places where the dough was too small.

Put the first layer of dough into the pie shape. I use a very handy shape with a removable bottom.

Put the almond paste on the bottom layer…

…and distribute it into an even layer.

Use a wetted spoon (which you will need to wet again regularly) to smooth the almond paste.

I guess this is a gratuitous smooth almond paste shot 😉

This is also a good time to turn on the oven to preheat it to 180ºC/350ºF (without fan).

Melt the butter…

…pour it onto the almond paste…

…and spread it out evenly with a brush.

Roll out the second part of the dough, using the same technique…

…to create a perfect square.

Slide  a piece of cardboard under the dough.

Use the cardboard to lift up the dough…

…and slide it onto the almond paste.

Decorate the top with the blanched almonds.

Brush with the remaining beaten egg.

Bake at 180ºC/350ºC (no fan) for 30 minutes.

Allow to cool completely.

Take the gevulde speculaas out of the pie shape.

Cut into squares. Gevulde speculaas is very rich, so 25 squares (5 by 5) is a nice serving size.

Store in an airtight container. I don’t know how long it will keep, because it never lasts long enough to find out 🙂


Two years ago I blogged about white asparagus with turbot (both cooked sous-vide), served with a hollandaise sauce. This is a lovely combination and the ‘foolproof’ hollandaise is much easier than the classic technique to prepare it.


31 thoughts on “Gevulde Speculaas (Speculoos Stuffed with Almond Paste)

  1. The best of good wishes for your birthday! May it be a year to remember . . . and if one believes even an iota of such things, that makes you a Capricorn . . .hmm 🙂 !


  2. Almonds make great desserts and yours looks extra special, as a birthday cake should :). I’m on a nut roll these days and am having fun coming up with delicious, easy to make versions of almond dishes (one of which I posted). Enjoy your day!


  3. Happy 16th Birthday, Stefan. 😀 I hope you had a fabulous day. This is a great looking dessert and I love the step by step walk through. Maybe one day (when I get over my general aversion to baking) I will give this a try. 🙂


  4. Hello Stefan and happy birthday! My birthday is january 14th 🙂 I love this kind of dessert, it almost looks like an oriental sweet, with the almond paste and the melted butter… i want to bake it!


  5. This looks absolutely wonderful. I love all those spices and almond paste, so this will be tried at home, for sure! And happy birthday! When I think of it, it’s difficult to come up with a better treat than this cake for a birthday… 😀


  6. – Happy Birthday, Stefan! About treating your colleagues or friends with sweets on your birthday, it is the same in Japan and Iran. Not only birthdays, but any auspicious event. Exact opposite of the USA, where people around you feel obliged to treat you for your auspicious day.
    – I love your blog for teaching me something new each time. I love how these gevulde speculaas look, especially the almond filling and the butter you pour over. However, I am not keen on cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger and white pepper in my sweets. Cardamom, I like. If I don’t use the other 5 spices, would these squares still be called gevulde speculaas?


    1. Hi Fae, thanks for the nice compliments.
      There are some variations on the speculaas spice mixture, but without cinnamon I don’t think it could still be called speculaas. It might still turn out nice and you could call it something else though 🙂


  7. Happy birthday, Stefan. What a gorgeous cake. The warm spices (especially the cardamom) and various almond elements must make for a perfect, sweet treat. Have a great weekend – hopefully the culinary delights and celebration continue. Best wishes, Shanna


  8. Happy birthday! Lucky co-workers you have 🙂 Those Gevulde Speculaas look just perfectly.

    I also think it’s a very good tradition to celebrate it at work. My birthday is one day before yours and I baked my co-workers a raspberry cheesecake (the blueberry cheesecake on my blog, but – surprise – with raspberry in stead of blueberry)


  9. Dear Stefan,
    Sorry it took me so long to wish you (belated) Happy Birthday!
    I’m bookmarking your post for two reasons. Firstly, the recipe of the almond paste. I have never make it and I absolutely want to try to make it at home. Second, this cake must be crazy delicious. I love almonds and I would put them on anything. Your colleagues were very, very lucky!


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