Whether you spell it speculoos (French and Flemish) or speculaas (Dutch), it’s utterly delicious and absolutely perfect for Christmas!

Speculoos are spiced shortcrust biscuits associated with the feast of Sinterklaas (Saint Nicholas) in early December. Made from flour, brown sugar and butter with cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, cardamom and white pepper, they are a key taste of the Christmas season, though these days, they’re available all year round.

A few years ago, speculoos spread came into the market – all the familiar flavours of speculoos biscuits in a spreadable form. The texture is much like Nutella, the much-loved chocolate hazelnut spread; the best way to imagine the flavour, if you aren’t already familiar with speculoos biscuits, is caramel toffee with Christmas spices added.

When Abra-Ca-Debora got in touch to ask if I’d like to sample their ready-made Dutch pancakes, I knew immediately that I wanted to combine them with the jar of speculoos spread I brought back from our trip to Amsterdam earlier this year. To cut through the speculoos sweetness but not the richness, I chose mascarpone, which is equally rich and decadent.

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The good news is that speculoos spread (known as Biscoff in North America) is now more readily available in the UK. Waitrose are currently stocking it, though it helps to know that they list it on their website as Lotus Biscuit Spread and the jars are labelled Caramelised Biscuit Spread, with no reference to speculoos.

The pancakes come in a sweet or savoury version, in packs of 6 and can be kept in the fridge for a few weeks, or frozen to store them longer term. They’re thicker than French crêpes but thinner than American and Scottish ones, perhaps 3 mm thick or thereabouts.

Ever since I first enjoyed a layered crêpe cake back in 2004 (in a tiny husband-and-wife restaurant in Knysna, South Africa, of all places) I’ve thought about making one myself. But whilst I can make crêpes, I only seem to do so once a year (can you guess the occasion?) and the thought of making the 30 or so evenly sized crêpes I’d need resulted in crêpe cakes being shelved every time the idea popped back into my head.

Not only would the Abra-Ca-Debora pancakes make such a dessert much quicker to make, I figured, they also looked more robust than their crêpe cousins, making them easier to spread and layer without tearing.

In the approach to Christmas, even more than other times of the year, I’m on the look out for dishes that are quick and delicious but impressive too. I think this one definitely fits the bill. All you need for my Speculoos & Mascarpone Pancake Cake are ready-made sweet Dutch pancakes, a jar of speculoos spread, two tubs of fresh mascarpone and a little icing sugar.

Although it’ll take a little time to spread and layer the pancakes, it’s simple to do and the result is, if I say so myself, magnificent!

 

Quick & Easy Speculoos & Mascarpone Pancake Cake

Ingredients
24 (4 packs) ready-made sweet Dutch pancakes
1 x 400 gram jar speculoos spread
500 grams fresh mascarpone
About 2 heaped tablespoons icing sugar, sieved

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Method

  • Beat the mascarpone vigorously with a fork to loosen, and then beat in about two heaped tablespoons of sieved icing sugar. The aim is to add only enough to remove the savoury edge from the mascarpone, but not enough to properly sweeten it, as the speculoos spread is very sweet.

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  • The speculoos spread is too solid to spread onto the pancakes straight out of the jar so spoon some into a mixing bowl and beat vigorously with a fork to loosen. Repeat this as and when you need more speculoos spread.

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  • Evenly spread a thin layer of speculoos spread over a pancake and transfer onto a large flat plate, spread-side up. I found it easiest to spread onto the paler side of the Abra-Ca-Deborah pancakes, as it was more evenly smooth.

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  • On the next pancake, spread a layer of sweetened mascarpone, and place the pancake carefully on top of the previous one. Take care, as the speculoos spread is sticky, so it’s difficult to lift and re-lay the pancake if you place it incorrectly.

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  • Repeat in alternating layers to build up the cake.

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  • Top the finished stack with a plain pancake, prettiest side up. Eagle-eyed pancake-counters will realise that, as I finished with a mascarpone pancake topped by a plain one, I only used 23 pancakes, not 24! Yes, I ate one whilst working. :-)

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  • Before serving, sieve some icing sugar over the top.I cut out a star shape from paper and placed it on top before sprinkling but because it wasn’t flat to the pancake, when I lifted it away, the outline was fuzzy, so I gave up on the idea and filled in the space with more sugar. And don’t sprinkle the sugar in advance of serving, as it melts into the surface of the pancake and disappears, as we discovered after carrying the cake with us to a friend’s place!

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  • Use a large sharp knife to cut into thin wedges to serve.The cake is very dense and rich (and delicious), so a small slice per person is plenty. We ate a quarter of it between four adults (after a generous dinner). The whole cake would feed 10-15 people, easily.

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Pete’s driving was non-too gentle – not completely his fault, to be fair, as there were some real morons on the road that evening – so the top half of the cake had slid to one side during the journey. It wasn’t difficult to push and pull it back upright again, though it wasn’t quite as neat as before. If you want to transport it, it may be worth finding a cake tin of similar diameter, and placing it upside down over the pancake cake.

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Do you think using ready-made pancakes is a cheat too far? What fillings would you choose for a pancake cake? And what are your favourite speculoos spread recipes?

 

As Speculoos is all about delicious Christmas spices, I’m submitting this post to the We Should Cocoa Christmas Special (Cinnamon) challenge on Chocolate Log Blog and Alphabakes December challenge on The More Than Occasional Baker… S for Speculoos! As I ate the leftovers for a very satisfying breakfast, I’ve also been asked to add it to Breakfast Club, which has a theme of brunch (this would be great for a late coffee morning breakfast) and is hosted by Bangers & Mash.

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Kavey Eats received a sample of pancakes from Abra-Ca-Deborah.

  31 Responses to “A Quick & Easy Speculoos & Mascarpone Pancake Cake”

  1. they look fab! Do you remember the Dutch Pancake Houses back in the 70s – you might have gone as a child? I used to love those :)

  2. This looks like a fun recipe to make with my 2-year old – no sharp knives or hot things!

    • Yes, good idea. You can vary fillings to lower sugar if you like – maybe lemon curd mixed in with fromage frais or thick yoghurt, or a low sugar jam or options. And by all means make the cake half the height, it’d still feed 5-6 people at half height. :-)

  3. As mentioned, this side of the pond, the spread is called Biscoff, as are the actual biscuits themselves. I found a recipe for Biscoff blondies, a bar cookie, that I’ve baked up and taken into work, and they were well-received. The recipe calls for melting white chocolate (which we all know is not really chocolate) into the batter, and then putting white chocolate chips into the finished batter, so you see and taste them in the final baked product. I often make cheesecakes, kind of my “signature dessert”, and it’s nice to take the Biscoff biscuits, blitz them in a food processor to make them into fine crumbs, and use those crumbs as the main component of a cheesecake crust.

  4. This is just stunning Kavey!

    • Thanks, I always wanted to make one of these, because they look so pretty when cut, and I decided to alternate the layers because, I don’t know, I just thought of it really, and figured it would look prettier! :-)

  5. Aaah a crepe cake! Always wanted to make one of those but always daunted at the prospect (and by my ability to make evenly-sized pancakes ;o)) Never had speculoos spread but love the idea. Lucky neighbours!

    • Not quite neighbours, sadly, but down in Surrey, hence the car journey and sliding tower! But thank you, yes this is the pancake cake for those of us with less skill or patience with the crêpe pan! :-)

  6. this is quite simply food porn… no better way to put it!… If it wasn’t chucking it down with rain i’d be out of the county and back down to your house (I know where you live remember) and in your kitchen to scoff… although knowing you they’re bound to all have been eaten by now… x

    • Yes, all gone. Left most of it at my cousins’ place and the quarter we bought back is long gone. If you come and visit, I’ll make you something else instead. x x

  7. Oooh, you ARE clever, Kavey! It looks wonderful! Best wishes to you and Pete for a wonderful Christmas and a happy and contented 2013, darling! xx

  8. That is fab Kavey! So simple but so delicious! I adore speculoos, although none of the staff in waitrose know it is called that which made finding it the first time a trifle tricky!

    • I was searching Waitrose online and just couldn’t find it but was confident they were stocking it, since a few people were mentioning they were finding it there… Finally thought to search on “Lotus” and bingo, up it came! The renaming makes no sense at all to me!

  9. Marvellous! And I think you are entirely justified using pre-made pancakes for something like this.

    • Thanks, they worked so well. Beautifully even, a little thicker than French crêpes, and easy to work with. Tasted good too.

  10. Wow! This looks so good, love the idea of speculoos and mascarpone, will have to give it a go in the New Year

  11. They look delicious. Love the way you have layered the pancakes. I hope my local Waitrose stocks Speculoos, can’t wait to try it.

    • Should do, just look for Lotus caramelised biscuit spread, as they’ve relabelled it instead of speculoos.

  12. Wow this looks amazing!! I love nutella so I’ll have to get a jar of speculoos to try! Great idea using mascarpone and ready made pancakes (definitely not a cheat at all – I would have done the same!) Thanks for entering AlphaBakes.

  13. What a spectacular creation Kavey. I’ve been dying to try the speculoos spread since I first heard about it and now you’ve described it, I want to try it even more. We had a Dutch pancake place here in our tiny town a few years ago and it was fantastic, but unfortunately not enough people thought the same and it didn’t last. Thanks for entering this into We Should Cocoa.

    • Thanks Choclette, I wasn’t sure if it counted as no actual cocoa in it, but in my head, the speculoos spread was the replacement!

  14. […] breakfast dish, and indeed I did have to persuade Kavey from Kavey Eats to enter her spectacular Speculoos & Mascarpone Pancake Cake into this month’s Breakfast Club, but personally I think this would make a superb, albeit […]

  15. I need this IN my life, looks amazing darling..keep up the fab work, your blog is amaze xxx

  16. […] Dutch pancakes a couple of years ago. I used them to make a rather magnificent (if I say so myself) speculoos and mascarpone pancake cake as an impressive but simple-to-make Christmas dessert. It’s the speculoos spices that make this […]

  17. […] Is Kavita Favelle’s Pancake Cake a not-so-distant “cousin” of Adirondack Pie? (Credit: Kavey Eats) […]

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