Known as ‘crack in a jar’, Lotus’ Biscoff cookie butter has so enthralled foodies and sugarholics that it may soon dethrone Nutella as the spread to have in one’s pantry. From ice cream and cheesecake to barfi — there’s even a hair dye that brands itself the Biscoff hue — Biscoff is everywhere. Or so it seems if one scrolls through TikTok or Instagram or haunts any of Karachi’s high-end cafes.
Also known as speculoos, this spicy, crunchy cookie with a caramelised flavour is popular in Belgium, Netherlands and Germany, and a bit like Lu’s Candi biscuits. The cookie butter has more contemporary origins: in 2007, Els Scheppers, the winner of the Belgian reality show De Bedenkers (The Inventors), made a spread from speculoos. The Lotus company — famous worldwide for its Biscoff cookies — bought the rights for the cookie butter. When it first hit the markets, the cookie butter sold out within a day.
Last year, the cookie butter craze spread (pun intended) to Pakistan. One of the first few restaurants in the country to use Biscoff in its desserts was Thyme, a high-end cafe in Karachi, when it debuted the Lotus Cheesecake on its menu. Other eateries soon followed suit — Caffe Praha serves Lotus Pancakes, Coco9 offers a delectable Lotus French Toast and, at Delina, one can indulge one’s sweettooth with a Lotus Hot Mess, a spongecake covered in a creamy caramel syrup and sprinkled with Biscoff biscuit crumbs.
Crazy for Biscoff? Like Nutella, this spread can be used with anything: melt and drizzle it on a cheesecake, put in crepes, layer a spongecake or make a sandwich with it, or just have a spoonful of it, straight out of the jar.
Biscoff Babka combines two pandemic-era baking obsessions — the Lotus Biscoff spread and baking bread
The Biscoff Babka combines two pandemic-era baking obsessions — Biscoff and baking bread. While time-consuming, this decadent treat is worth the effort and great to have with a hot cup of tea or coffee. The Biscoff paste adds a delicious caramel touch to the yeast-risen East-European braided bread. Don’t want to break the bank by buying Biscoff Cookie Butter? Replace it with caramel, a sprinkle of cinnamon and crushed Candie biscuits.
For the filling
Biscoff Cookie Spread
For the dough
275g plain flour
5g instant yeast
½ tsp fine salt
2 eggs, beaten
50ml whole milk
80g unsalted butter, softened
2-3 Candi or Biscoff biscuits, crushed
Make the dough. Add the flour to the bowl. Then add the yeast, sugar and salt. Stir together. Make a well in the centre and pour in the eggs and milk, then mix it all with a spatula or with a mixer.
Add the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time. Knead the dough till you have a smooth, silky dough. If you’re using a mixer, put it on slow speed for 2-3 minutes.
Lightly flour a flat space where you can easily roll out the dough — even a clean marbled kitchen table will do. Roll out the dough to a 40x30 cm rectangle.
Slightly melt the cookie butter by placing in a warm bowl or heating it in the microwave for 30 seconds. Spread it till the edges of the rolled out dough leaving one cm of dough without filling. You can also replace the spread with anything else you prefer, such as cinnamon, caramel, peanut butter, Nutella or any other chocolate spread.
Place the dough in the fridge for 10 minutes — this will make the dough less sticky and easier to work with.
Grab both ends of the dough and roll it up into a tight spiral. Trim the ends, about 2cm, to neaten it. Using a knife, cut the dough lengthways, down the middle of the dough, into two long pieces.
Making sure the cut-sides are facing upwards, pinch the open ends of the dough together while braiding the two halves. Twist one side over the other to make a two-stranded plait of bread. Make sure to keep on pinching the open ends as you twist and ‘braid’ the bread. Press the bottom edges of both sides of the bread to ‘seal’ the babka.
Grease a 21x11 cm loaf pan or line it with baking/ parchment paper. Cover with a wet tea towel and leave for 2-3 hours in a warm place to proof/ for the dough to rise till the dough has doubled in size.
Heat the oven to 190°C.
Bake for 15 minutes then reduce the oven temperature to 170°C and bake for a further 25-30 minutes. When an inserted skewer/ fork comes out clean, the babka is baked.
Take the babka out of the oven. Once cooled, turn out on to a wire rack or a serving plate.
Melt 1-2 teaspoons more of the cookie butter and drizzle over the babka loaf. Sprinkle the crushed biscuit over it.g
The writer is a former staff member
Originally published in Dawn, EOS, September 19th, 2021