A Taste of Belgium
A Berkeley baker transforms sugar and spice into speculoos cookies.
By Erin Scott
Grab a cup of coffee, and open a box of Little Belgians’ speculoos cookies. Chances are, you’ll have more than one. The thin crunchy cookies are just as addictive as they are unique.
Berkeley resident Evy Ballegeer grew up in Belgium and made her cookies taste like the ones she ate as a girl: full of butter and spice. “True speculoos are made with butter and rich spices, like nutmeg and cardamom,” she says. “But in the United States, you’ll only find cookies made with palm oil and cinnamon.”
Ballegeer makes the cookies in Berkeley and stamps them with images from her childhood: an umbrella for the rainy, family-filled afternoons; a bird for pigeon racing, a popular sport in Belgium; and a house like one from her favorite Belgian city, Ghent.
And when her family comes to visit, they take boxes full of her speculoos cookies home with them. “It’s funny in a way—taking a Belgian cookie made in America back to Belgium. But they passed the Belgian test, which was the most nerve-wracking part,” Ballegeer says. littlebelgians.com.