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Cookie-butter junkies can mix a fix without Trader Joe

By Betty Shimabukuro

LAST UPDATED: 01:51 a.m. HST, Dec 20, 2013

You'd expect that what gets us excited here in the newsroom is news. But you would be wrong. What gets us excited are football and food, not necessarily in that order.

So on a recent Monday, a corner of the office was all aflutter because of some silly football game on TV. Apparently much was at stake in the in-house Survivor Pool. Whatever that means.

At the same time, a lively (and much more important) discussion was underway on the topic of cookie butter. A few people were involved in both proceedings.

Since I have zero interest in football but infinite interest in cookies, I can't tell you who was playing, but I can tell you all about cookie butters. They are like peanut butter in color and texture but are made with crushed cookies. The gold standard is Speculoos Cookie Butter, sold exclusively at Trader Joe's on the mainland. It has become a favorite omiyage for Hawaii folk visiting Las Vegas.

Another version, Biscoff European Cookie Spread, is sold here at Times Supermarkets. A jar of this was being sampled and had catalyzed the discussion.

One person told the sad tale of how he tried to bring a jar of Speculoos home in his carry-on, but it was seized by airport security. His mom had to mail him replacement jars. He's since been eating it straight out of the jar and describes its addictive qualities as "like crack."

Someone else told the sad tale of his niece searching several Trader Joe's in Vegas in vain for the precious commodity (apparently you have to ask for it up front).

And someone else said when he tried to buy Biscoff at Times, there was a two-jar limit, it was so popular.

Obviously a recipe was in order. So I took a stab at it, and a couple of days later we had a taste-off. The Speculoos guy shared one of his jars, against which we pitted the Biscoff version and a homemade. Speculoos was the hands-down winner. I got a few votes, though, and I've since improved on my formula.

If you have a food processor, you can easily pull this off, using almost any type of cookie. Your spread will basically taste like the cookie, so please yourself.

To most closely match the commercial versions, hunt down Biscoff cookies (I found some at Foodland), made by a Belgian company called Lotus Bakeries. They're sold in Europe as Lotus Speculoos. Thus the two versions have the same root. (Speculoos, by the way, is the name of a shortbread cookie made for the Feast of St. Nicholas.)

Yours won't be an exact match, but it will be a reasonable facsimile and may be the best you can do if you have no one to go to Trader Joe's for you.

The spread is good on French bread or as a dip for apples. I suggest serving it during football games.


2 ounces (about 8) European-style biscuit cookies (see note)
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons flour

Break up cookies and place in food processor. Pulse until reduced to fine crumbs. Add sugar and pulse to combine.

Add oil and pulse a few seconds until thick and pasty. Mixture will by grainy. Slowly add water to smooth it out. You may need to run the processor for several minutes.

Gradually add flour to thicken mixture. You may not need all of it. Makes about 1/2 cup.

Nutritional information unavailable.

Note: Biscoff cookies yield best results. With another brand, see if it contains cinnamon. If not, add a 1/4 teaspoon. Other alternatives are graham crackers or a mixture of vanilla wafers and gingersnaps. You may need more water.


Write "By Request," Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, Honolulu 96813. Email requests to bshimabukuro@staradvertiser.com.

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