Foodiva's Kitchen: French Fridays with Dorie - Cinnamon Crunch Chicken

Friday, September 16, 2011

French Fridays with Dorie - Cinnamon Crunch Chicken


I'll get straight to the point - I liked this recipe. It had only 3 ingredients (three!) - chicken, crème fraiche and spéculoos.  Specu....what

Okay, I'll spare you the misery and tell you that these are spicy shortcrust cookies traditionally baked around Christmastime in the Netherlands, Belgium, France and Germany. Spices used in spéculoos are, in different variations, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, cardamom and white pepper. I know this because I used to eat tons of them when I lived in Europe. Safe to say, my tastebuds have very fond memories of that time. 


This week on French Fridays with Dorie saw us attempting Cinnamon Crunch Chicken. In her book, Around My French Table, Dorie explained that it is better to use store-bought rather than homemade spéculoos although she didn't clearly explain why. Was it because of the complexity of the spices, the crunchiness of the commercially-produced biscuits? I don't know but in any case, I wasn't going to traipse all over the island looking for them. Not when there's a recipe to make them out of the very same cookbook!

Below left and right: Before and after baking

So I set out to bake the spiced cookies as per Dorie's instructions (with cloves, cinnamon and ginger) and used my mooncake plunger press to cut out the shapes. Don't they just look pretty? And instead of chilling my dough in the refrigerator for 3-4 hours or overnight, I placed the rolled and cut-out dough in the freezer for 15 minutes, complete with silpat. Hey, I'm a busy woman! The cookie dough didn't rise or expand much, as you can see above. I substituted all purpose flour with whole wheat and that, I think, gave a nice texture and crispness to the baked cookies.

Here's where I sneak in my giveaway. Just wanted to see if people actually read the whole post or simply skim through the pictures and then go straight to the comments, or... or (gasp) just close the post without reading it fully nor commenting! Right, I'm giving away a mooncake plunger press like the one I was using above to anyone who writes in to let me know that they want it and what they're going to make with it if they win. The winner will be picked via (yawn) random.org and the closing date for this giveaway is on Thursday, September 22. I'll announce the winner on next week's French Fridays with Dorie post. Now let's see how many of you actually caught that. :-)


(Post update: This giveaway is now closed, a winner has been picked)



On with the recipe. Once I stirred the cookie crumbs into the crème fraiche, I found the flavor of the spices became somewhat diluted, so I liberally added more cinnamon and clove powders into the mixture. The sliced red chillies you see were not in the recipe but I thought, why not? The slight heat would balance out the sweetness of the cookies (since the spéculoos contained both regular and brown sugars, they were pretty sweet!).


I'm sorry but I have to ask, did any one of you who made this experience the 'crunch' at all? My chicken batter was more soggy rather than satisfyingly crunchy. Perhaps Dorie had a point when she recommended the store-bought versus homemade spéculoos. If I ever find spéculoos in the stores here, I will definitely give this another try.


The cinnamon-y encrusted chicken tasted delicious nevertheless, and it went very well served on a bed of saffron couscous. Yum...what more do you want me to say?

Click here to find out if the other Doristas came to a crunchy ending with their chickens. Or not.

47 comments:

Ei said...

Oooh! Oooh! I want one of those cookie press things! Oooh! lol I was just thinking how gorgeous your cookies looked. Maybe if cut-out cookies looked like THAT, I wouldn't hate making them!!

I baked speculoos, too, and my chicken had no crunch either. Your sauce looks a lot more solid than mine. I kind of wish Dorie had specified how much cookie crumble we were supposed to use, beyond "two cookies." I suspect that my two cookies are not the same size as two store-bought cookies. There didn't seem to be much cookie on my chicken. Glad this was a hit for you, soggy or not! We really liked it.

Amanda said...

I think I might give this a whirl using tofu instead of the chicken. I also have found memories of speculoos from a childhood in Germany, and know exactly where I can find some :-D

Mardi @eatlivetravelwrite said...

Hmmm... I made the speculoos in December for FFWD and I knew those wouldn't be the right consistency (mine were way too crunchy and not crumbly enough) so I used store bought (no speculoos but something close). I also didn't think it was meant to be a batter though maybe I read the recipe wrong? We ate it more like a sauce and used only a tiny amount of cookie cut up in big chunks so it retained the crunch - the crème fraîche mix was only in the pan for a minute or so....

PS: I would love that cookie cutter - I would try Dorie's sepculoos recipe again!

Steph said...

We didn't think this one had much flavor...good idea to add more spices! I love how your cookies came out. Beautiful cookie press, which I would love to use to make holiday cookies.

Tina said...

Oh I do know about the battle between taste and texture. When it comes to texture a lot of recipes do not identify and we are lost wondering if our creation is right or wrong according to the recipe. Glad you liked the taste and kudos to you deciding to try again.

Trix said...

I caught it! I read your posts!! I want that press!! I will confront my nemesis and make cookies ... I don't know what kind, don't disqualify me please! Not very sweet ones though ; )
Okay, you know me and there was no way I was making sweet cookie crusted chicken. Not happening. Though I LOVE that you added pepper, very necessary I should think. (Btw, I have had tripe ... and I hate it. I even forced myself to take multiple bites of the stuff. I just hate the texture! I have to perform more mind games on myself because I would like to try menudo ...)

Cheap Ethnic Eatz said...

No homemade recipe can reproduce a Specoolus brand cookie, they are unique and very addictive. Even more addictive is there spread O-M-G. I never would have though making it part of a main meal. Sounds interesting.

I do have a mooncake mold but that press looks way cooler and can be used for other things. I read you ALL and I would love to win it.

Pacheco Patty said...

I read your whole post!!!
I want one of those cookie presses to use for Dorie's recipe for the speculoos cookies(they are pretty addictive aren't they?)
I didn't make the chicken recipe because to be honest it didn't sound good to me but I'm glad you liked it and I like the way you added a little color with the red peppers;-)

spcookiequeen said...

Chicken and cookies? Can I have just a dozen of the cookies please! Hope you have a great weekend, Miss Diva.
-Gina-

Dzoli said...

Very daring combination..cookies and meat.But if you say its tasty I am inclinet to beleive you:)

Sandra said...

i need one of those press cutters..so cool Maya! Lovely pictures and wonderful combination and presentation!

Cher said...

Ok, I couldn't find these cookies in the store and making them just wasn't going to happen - so I substituted a cinnamon, ginger cookie that seemed close enough. The cookie melted right into the creme fraiche - there was no crunch. But it was good.
And your cookies are too pretty to be crumbled :-(

S.V. said...

Sounds strange to say but I think your cookies and chicken sound awesome. I love peculiar items cooked together to make something wonderful. The dish looks amazing the cookies look perfect.

Foodiva said...

Thank you, Doristas and friends! Those who said they want that cookie press will be entered into the draw. Have a wonderful weekend all!

Viviane Bauquet Farre said...

Very elegant presentation - particularly contrasting with that wonderful dishware you have! The food looks good and this definitely isn't your average chicken recipe. Well done!

Rita D K Simmons said...

That looks awesome, been away for a while so catching up with what everyone has been up too. Thanks for the share.

oneexpatslife said...

Too funny, I LOVE your cookie press thingy! I think if I used that, nobody would believe that I had actually made the cookies, they would think that they were store bought.

Well, as you pointed out, speculoos are christmas cookies here so I am putting this recipe off until then. In the meantime I caught up with a few yummy favorites this week. But I will be reading what everyone has to say about the chicken so that I am ready to make it when the stores start stocking up for Christmas.

Norm said...

Of COURSE I read the whole post Maya!!! If I won the cookie press I'd make Speculoos too as I love spicy gingery biscuits (and they would be great Christmas presents for my neighbours!)... But I can't promise I'd make said biscuits into a coating for chicken as it sounds slightly wacky to me! (But you know that's a compliment too!)

Kate x

yummychunklet said...

Double kudos for a great looking dish AND making your own speculoos! That is a pretty cookie press. It does look perfect to use for making homemade speculoos!

wok with ray said...

Love how you presented the dish in that beautiful and elegant looking bowl. You have great style, Maya!

Have a good weekend!

~ ray ~

Joy said...

The dish looks great.

Elin said...

Maya...yours looks good. I thought it was a bit sweet for me too. Wow..you even make your own speculoos !!! Well done ! :)

RavieNomNoms said...

Oh wow, this is so interesting! Thank you so much for sharing this

Adriana said...

I love that press and I want it! I would make the speculoos again, and shortbread, and maybe even for the salted butter breakups. When I get around making the chicken, I will definitely add some extra peppers, or even a pinch of garam masala.

Kris' Kitchen said...

Such a pretty cookie press. I thought about baking these again, however, I'd been out shopping for a couple of hours and we were hungry. I'm actually glad I chose a more spicy gingersnap and then added cinnamon. I agree that with only a couple of cookies this recipe needs more spicing up. Again, I love your pretty cookies...almost a shame to chunk them up.

Lilly said...

I can’t believe you made your own speculaas (as we call it in Holland)! I’m more then happy to send you a box or two…and even better…nowadays they have a speculaas paste so you can spread it on your bread and it is sooooo good. You’ve got the smooth and the crunchy version and yes…it is the crunchy one is still crunchy.

There is no way you can keep the crunch if you stir them with the chicken. However you can sprinkle some on top =)

How about I trade you a jar of speculaas paste for your mooncake mold (wink).

Elaine said...

Such a beautiful cookie press pattern, Maya! Your chicken looks so pretty and delicious and you got such a good coating on them. I want to add more cookies next time.

Lizzy said...

Oh, my your speculoos look PERFECT!!! I'm glad you liked the chicken, but I was a bit surprised at the lack of crunch, too :)

Happy weekend, Maya~

Pam said...

I couldn't envision crunch myself, so I added some extra bits of cookie on top as a garnish for the crunch. Yours looks great!

Betsy said...

Your speculoos are gorgeous, Maya. I just love your mooncake press. I was already going to comment on it before I kept reading your post and saw your giveaway. I'd love to win a mooncake press to make my own beautiful speculoos. I didn't love this dish, but maybe I should have added hot red chiles like you did. Have a great weekend.

jjneitling said...

I didn't do the chicken recipe yet but I would LOVE to have the cookie cutter you used. I promise--I will make the recipe soon.
Your cookies looked spectacular!

Jen at The Three Little Piglets said...

Is it fair to just say to make speculoos?! I've never made them before but have certainly eaten my fair share of them. And I have Around My French Table, although I haven't tried that recipe...

Quay Po Cooks said...

The mooncake press is so cool. Make such a lovely design.

Laurie Lessner said...

I would love to win the press - it's beautiful and I can't believe you chopped them up! I used Biscoff cookies and mine were mushy. I think I'd like to try this again using chili peppers. It was very sweet, which I like, but think the chilies would make it more interesting. Maya, you always give me such good ideas!

Parsley Sage said...

Totally caught you! Although, it was hard staying focused cause I was sitting her turning green with envy from your lovely cookie thingy. What luck! Can I be boring and say I'd use it for sugar cookies? Come on...you're using a (yawn) random generator! I can be boring too.

And you're HELLA lucky to have a breadfruit tree in your yard! There's one outside my office but I haven't figured out how to snatch a fruit without having to fight my way up the tree in a 'work appropriate' skirt...

acookingmizer said...

O
M
G
!!!!
I want one of those!! even before I got to the giveaway, I was looking on Amazon for cookie stamps like this! I was inspired when I was looking around for some pictures of speculoos on the web and saw all the fancy ones running around! I wuld have to make speculoos with them AND every other kind of cookie I can!

Errin said...

I love that press! I have to admit though that I wouldn't use it for food. I'd probably use it to press out a million little clay tiles to make ornaments with (and anything else I thought I could get away with). :D Love that pattern!

Foodiva said...

Parsley Sage, LOL!! Thanks for that really funny comment. Now I can't shake the image of you scaling up that tree in your work skirt, trying to bag that breadfruit! Do you know that lots of fiery ants travel up and down that tree daily too? Do NOT try this in the office, folks...

Ashley@Bakerbynature said...

Those cookies look amazing on their own! This dish looks like a delicious spin on chicken.

the [sugar] apothecary said...

Mmmm! Jeez, supermom. Making your own speculoos cookies for chicken breading! The cookies came out amazing on their own!

I love love love that mooncake / cookie mold! I'm thinking springerle cookies for Christmastime... Send that baby my way :)

Foodiva said...

Christine@Sugar Apothecary, darn it...now I have to look up springerle cookies! I have NO idea what they are or even what they look like...LOL.

Foodiva said...

(continued from above)...Oh Gawd, springerle, I used to eat these in Germany! Just momentarily lost my mind and forgot what they look like or what they are called. I'd so like to own one of those springerle rolling pins, they're totally cool!

stacy :) said...

OK, the first thing I was going to comment on was that cookie press - and then you go and say you're giving one away and I want one to make my own beautiful speculoos!!

And the second thing was that your silpat is just the cutest with the purple polka dots and I want that too (when's that giveaway??) and then I saw your beautiful dish and now I just want to come to your house and go shopping.

Your chicken looks delicious too and of course the cookies are so lovely - I just enjoyed the heck out of your post (and also some of the very amusing comments!)!!!

Reem | Simply Reem said...

This sounds Delicious!!!
Heavenly Fragrant I must say..
And I love your cookie press...

Yesim said...

lovely post.. mouthwatering dish.. loved all..

onewetfoot.com said...

I love the way your chicken looks. I wasn't able to try this recipe, but I'm curious to see if I'll like it - so many mixed reviews!

And yes, I do read your posts. Though the lovely photos are distracting, I really enjoy your stories, too. That mooncake press makes beautiful cookies!

Spicie Foodie said...

Hello, it's me your stalker. Haha I'm catching up on your blog and always have my 2 cents to say:) I love how you snuck in the giveaway, brilliant.
What a cute name for a dish. I have to say that I don't know if I've ever had a Speculaas, cringe. I'm going to be on the look out because I'm to lazy to make my own. The chicken really does look yummy and on top of couscous just perfect.

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