No, it’s not a traditional hot cross bun, even though it should be, even though most of you probably think I should stop taking shortcuts…? Yeah, something labelled ‘hot cross’ should be in line with tradition, but I don’t think the 1916 Easter uprising in Ireland, or the fact that speculoos biscuits are traditionally eaten in the Netherlands before St. Nicholas’ feast, affected my decision to make something easy, fun, and absolutely yum.
It was solid instinct, in the light of a recent family reunion, that drove me in this direction. Finally getting to see family after what seemed to be forever was enticing, and with my doughnut pan hauled all the way from Singapore just for me, memories of the first time I made baked doughnuts triggered the oven fun.
Speculoos (cookie butter) chocolate-filled baked doughnuts with a speculoos frosting and cream cheese ‘cross’. Lezzgo.
The best bit of the recipe? Chucking the cookie butter into the microwave, then oohing at the melted, gooey mess before you. This is the gold of the recipe, what will send you over the edge as you mix the wet into the dry mix and bring everything together into the second round of fun gloopy mess.
So you make these doughnuts, then pour more gold on top. Golden, sweet and glistening. You get the rich, chimerical flavour of cookie butter inside and on the outside.
There wasn’t a fluffier, more tender belly. There is some chopped chocolate in there because I thought why the hell not, but that’s optional, and if you wish you could chuck in some nuts and raisins (I didn’t because I was giving quite a few of these to some people who didn’t like either). So customise it, love it, make it again.
Speculoos is made with cinnamon and nutmeg, so the additional incorporation of those components in this recipe really enhances that natural flavour, and it does make me think of Easter. Full of spice and lots of warmth.
Hot Cross Cookie Butter Baked Doughnuts (makes 8 doughnuts, adapted from here)
For the doughnuts:
158g (slightly more than 1 1/4 cups) all purpose flour
pinch of salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
2 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
50g chopped chocolate (optional)
75g (1/3 cup) white sugar
15g (1 tbsp) butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
120ml (1/2 cup) whole milk
3tbsp + 8 tbsp (1/2 cup) speculoos cookie butter spread (3 tbsp for the doughnuts, 1/2 cup for the top
For the cream cheese cross:
5 tbsp cream cheese spread (or take some off a block, that works fine too), microwaved until softened
1 tbsp milk
3 tbsp icing sugar
Butter or grease a 6 or 8-doughnut pan (use the 6-doughnut one twice for this batch, of course) and set aside. Preheat your oven to 177C (350F).
In a large bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients, including the chocolate.
In another microwave-safe bowl, add the one tablespoon of butter, half cup milk and 3 tbsp of speculoos spread, and microwave on high for 20 seconds, just until butter has melted. Leave to cool for a minute, then whisk in the egg and vanilla extract.
Pour the wet into the dry ingredients, and mix until everything is just combined. Pipe batter, or use two tablespoon measurements, into your greased doughnut pan. Bake for 8-9 minutes, no more no less. A wooden skewer inserted into the middle of one should emerge clean, but the doughnut should still feel soft and bouncy to touch.
While they’re baking, melt the rest of the speculoos spread in one bowl, and mix the ingredients for the cream cheese crosses in another. Put the cream cheese mix into a ziploc bag and snip off the end, in such a way that piping the cream cheese would have a flat ribbon effect, not a tube. I find it gives a more aesthetically pleasing result.
Once baked, remove doughnuts from the oven, let cool for a while and then dip into freshly melted speculoos spread. Don’t melt the spread too far ahead, else it will harden and it will be more difficult to dip into. Tip: dip the bottom of the doughnuts, not the top (the side you see when you open the oven), for the little airy pockets on the underside will absorb more of the spread when still a bit warm. Pipe the cream cheese crosses on your doughnuts.
These can be kept for 2-3 days at room temperature, but of course they’re best eaten immediately. Enjoy with a hot cuppa.