Move over Nutella, there’s a new spread in town. Well, maybe Nutella won’t be suffering that much. But there’s new competition with Cookie Butter — a delectable, creamy spread that tastes a bit like gingerbread cookies in a jar. Also, known as Speculoos Cream or Biscoff Spread (named after the famous European cookie from Belgium), Cookie Butter is gathering its own cult-like following. I picked up a jar recently at Trader Joe’s, where it was named the top product of 2012. Some stores have had to limit the purchase of this treasured treat to one or two jars per person because they can’t keep them in stock, while other regions of the country have been horrified by a Cookie Butter shortage.
Trader Joe’s may have fueled the trend — and created the current “cookie crack” frenzy — but they didn’t invent the goo. We have Lotus Bakeries, the Belgian makers of Biscoff cookies, to thank for that. The cookies were first created in 1932 in the small Belgian town of Lembeke. Known as Lotus Speculoos in Europe, Biscoff cookies are popular in Belgium, the Netherlands and France — especially in coffee shops, hotels and restaurants. They were first introduced in the U.S. in 1985 with in-flight samples on airlines. Delta Airlines has even created their own branded Biscoff cookie that they continue to serve on flights. The name “speculoos” in Flemish comes from the Latin word for “spice,” and spice is what you taste when you bite into these crisp cookies. They’re subtly sweet, almost caramelized, with dominate flavors of ginger, cinnamon, cloves, pepper and nutmeg. Europeans typically bake their own versions of these cookies around the holidays for St. Nicholas Day.
Baker’s Corner on flickr
The creation of the Biscoff spread was the result of a 2007 contest on a TV show in Belgium named “De Bedenkers” or The Inventors. Turns out, Els Scheppers was on to something when she created this sweet, creamy spread using the famous Lotus Speculoos cookies. Lotus Bakeries got in touch with Els and they worked together to perfect her inspired creation. Just three hours after its initial release in Belgium, the product sold out and a culinary phenomenon was born. The spread was first introduced to the U.S. in 2011, and now it’s burning up the internet on blogs, Pinterest and food sites such as Tastespotting, where you’ll find a creative array of recipes using Cookie Butter — from cookies, cakes, cupcakes and brownies to pancakes, waffles, cinnamon rolls, milk shakes and puddings.
I actually prefer the taste over Nutella, it’s a little less sweet. When you look at the nutritional profile, the two spreads are similar — although Cookie Butter contains 10 fewer calories and half the sugar compared to Nutella. Neither is a calorie bargain. One tablespoon of Cookie Butter contains 90 calories, 6 grams fat and 5 grams sugars. For Nutella, one tablespoon contains 100 calories, 6 grams fat and 10.5 grams sugars. Both contain palm oil. There are no nuts in Cookie Butter, so people with nut allergies can enjoy.
They’re both a treat — a tasty addition to toast, a topping on pancakes or waffles, a dip, a finishing touch on ice cream, or a fun ingredient to transform into different creations. Cookie Butter will do okay as long as it stays true to what it is — a spreadable cookie — and not try to be something it’s not. Nutella got into trouble for trying to be a “healthy” breakfast choice for kids. The company had to settle a $3.5 million class-action lawsuit — concluding that Nutella was basically similar to a candy bar. The “balanced breakfast” it promoted was due to the multigrain toast, glass of milk and serving of fruit — not to the chocolate hazelnut spread. Cookie Butter may be trying to be the next Nutella, but it shouldn’t go down that “healthy” path. It’s delicious. I love it. But it’s a cookie, folks.
I do encourage you to check it out. Let me know what you think! If you don’t have a Trader Joe’s in your area, you can find the Biscoff spread at Walmart, Kroger, Safeway, Cost Plus World Market, Walgreens and CVS. Or you can find it online at Amazon and other sites, including the Biscoff online store. Trader Joe’s recently came out with a crunchy version of Cookie Butter and a dark chocolate candy bar filled with the Speculoos spread (which they sell in the check-out area). I couldn’t resist trying the chocolate bar, and it was amazing.
Tempted to try Cookie Butter? Here are some recipes to inspire you:
Cookie butter recipes by Averie Cooks
Five Speculoos desserts by The Kitchn
Biscoff Cupcakes with Biscoff Buttercream by Picky Palate
Biscoff spread the love contest
How to make your own cookie butter by Chicagoist