Speculoos swirl brownies

Celebratory speculoos swirl brownies

This past weekend, I was having one of those days. Three days in a row. I was bombarded with a seemingly unavoidable streak of bad kitchen luck, and the only thing I could do was bake my way out of it. Literally. I baked and baked and baked. And went to the store three times in one day. (Ok, Thom went to the store three times in one day. He’s a good, good man.) Sprinkles from Iceland went to waste, along with 8 cans of coconut milk, 4 pounds of sugar and 2 bags of chocolate chips. For lack of better words, I sucked. I sucked so incredibly bad.

Those days, I spent the better part of my mornings attempting to replicate a confetti cake I made last summer. Turns out, writing recipes on the back of junk mail is not conducive to recreating those recipes in the future. Who’da thought? So, by the end of day two, I gave up on the confetti cake and decided to move on to better (read: easier) things – my version of a Twix bar. They were delicious (and tasted like a better version of the real deal, according to Thom), but the shape was all sorts of wrong (I made them in tartlet pans, which resulted in something much larger than any candy bar should be). So, I attempted to make fancy Twix bars, with crumbly vanilla bean crust and dark chocolate ganache topping. And just when I thought things were going swimmingly, I cut into one of the tartlets and the ganache decided to separate from the caramel. Not pretty, you guys. Not pretty at all. Also, I may or may not have had a meltdown on the dining room floor.

Speculoos swirl brownies

Defeated, I threw in the towel (both metaphorically and literally), poured myself an oversized mug of coffee, and went to take a hot bath by candlelight. The bath of shame, I like to call it. Where I attempted to wash myself clean of the negative energy and bad juju that were trapped within the confines of my body. I was sweating it out when Thom decided to come in and sit down, next to the tub. I wanted to be like HELLO! Can’t you tell I’m in the midst of cleansing my body of free radicals, and shit? But instead I looked at him, hung my head, then mumbled something about being a terrible baker.

I expected him to tell me that I’m a wonderful baker and that no other baker could make his belly as happy as I do. But instead he laughed. HE LAUGHED! (He probably threw an eye roll in there, too.) I looked at him and wanted to cry as he told me how ridiculous I was being. And that it’s completely normal to have off days every once in a while. I believe he also said something along the lines of it being healthy for one’s ego. So my deflated ego and I got out of the bath and back in the kitchen. Speculoos swirl brownies needed to be made. And so they were; made and devoured. And now I have the recipe for you. My little victory brownies.

Speculoos spreadChocolate chips | Homemade vanilla extract

Today marks one year of Oh, Ladycakes! And to celebrate, I’m giving away five bottles (yes, 5) of my homemade (and organic! and fair trade!) vanilla extract. But you have to go to my Facebook page to find out the details on how to win. (Hint: look for the most recent photo of the vanilla extract.) (Second hint: it’s probably the first photo on my page.) Ok, if you don’t have a Facebook account (I applaud you), you can leave a comment telling me.. that you’re leaving a comment to be entered to win the vanilla extract because you’ve successfully avoided getting roped into aforementioned social networking site. I’m still applauding you. And thinking that you deserve a bottle of vanilla extract based on that premise alone. Seriously, wow.

UPDATE: Giveaway is closed. Winners have been notified. Thanks for participating!

Notes: You can use any flour you want. I’ve used whole wheat, unbleached and gluten free (not that it matters, as speculoos spread contains gluten) – but I liked the spelt version the best. I know people are going to ask about substituting coconut oil, but here’s the thing – I haven’t tried it. So, proceed with caution. And yes, you can substitute any variety of sugar; coconut, sucanat, maple, whatever your little belly desires.


1 1/4 cup spelt flour
1/2 cup cacao powder
3/4 tsp fine sea salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
2 tbsp flax meal
1/4 cup filtered water
6 tbsp non-hyrdogenated shortening
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1 1/4 cup cane sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup almond milk
2-4 tbsp speculoos spread
, melted

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line a 9″ round (or square) baking pan with parchment paper; set aside. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cacao powder, salt and baking soda; set aside. In a small bowl, stir together the flax meal and water; put in freezer to set. In a double boiler over medium heat, stir together the shortening, chocolate chips, sugar and vanilla extract. Don’t worry about really stirring it until the shortening and chocolate start to melt. Once they do, stir just until the mixture is combined. Remove from heat and stir in the almond milk.

Create a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the flax mixture and chocolate mixture; stir with a wooden spoon until combined, then whisk until smooth. Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan and level with the back of a spoon. Drizzle melted speculoos over batter then swirl using the end of a knife (or your finger). Wrap pan on the countertop a few times until the batter is level. Bake at 350˚F for 24-26 minutes. Allow to cool in pan. Store in an air tight container for up to five days.

Yield: 8 slices


  • Reply Noelle 6 September 2012 at 1:54 PM

    You rock lady! these look awesome!!!!

  • Reply Courtney 6 September 2012 at 2:07 PM

    I too have been to that not-so-lovely place of lying on my flour-covered kitchen floor about to have a meltdown over failed baking attempts. It’s not pretty. And yes, I too learned that everyone has off days and that we just move on. Love your blog and love these delicious brownies! Congrats on 1 year!!

  • Reply xvavaveganx 6 September 2012 at 2:08 PM

    Aww I think we’ve all had those days in the kitchen but you battle back for sure! Those brownies look amazing and I’ve always wanted to try speculoos! Nice job :) And yes, Thom is a good man, ha!

  • Reply Caitlin 6 September 2012 at 2:18 PM

    thom reminds me a lot of dayv. he gives the complete and honest truth during meltdowns, but it always makes me feel better. and usually he throws something comical in there ;)

    happy one year anniversary ;) i’d love a bottle of your world famous vanilla extract.

  • Reply sweet road 6 September 2012 at 2:32 PM

    Thanks for this post! I love baking, but naturally I am a better cook, so it’s common that about 50% of the time my baking experiments go badly. I remember when I first started blogging I would become so frustrated because of days like those you are describing. My friends and family would tell me that everyone has bad baking and cooking days, it’s just that they don’t write about it, so I’m glad you did! It allows us all to have a little more patience!

    I am not on facebook (maybe not the best move for a blogger), but I would still love to enter the giveaway!

    Thanks again for continuously posting such beautiful and down to earth posts!

  • Reply Ashley Beyer 6 September 2012 at 2:33 PM

    I love that label.

  • Reply Allysia 6 September 2012 at 2:58 PM

    I don’t know about you, but it always feels like my kitchen failures condense into a terrible streak like that, never paced out nicely. You’re a trooper for powering through it! And I appreciate that you shared your “failures” (I like to call them learning experiences, ha ha), it’s nice to know I’m not the only one who goes through that sometimes. And hey, brownies! Too bad you can’t get speculoos around here, though I’ve made the cookies before and they’re great. :)

  • Reply Shannon 6 September 2012 at 4:22 PM

    Speculoos and brownies sounds like a great combination!

    I had a really bad baking day last week. It’s still haunting my dreams. I managed to drop a 5 pound glass jar of melted coconut oil. It shattered. I cut my fingers three times trying to clean up the sharp oily mess. Lesson learned, sometimes plastic can be ok.

  • Reply veganbrain 6 September 2012 at 7:03 PM

    These brownies look awesome, I’ve never been able to get them as ‘brownie-looking’ as yours. I’m definitely going to try this recipe :)

  • Reply Ashley 6 September 2012 at 9:27 PM

    Despite your off day of baking this looks pretty fantastical! I want to hang out with you. Weird? Oh well. I also want some vanilla. Going to stalk your FB page.

  • Reply Caroline 7 September 2012 at 1:57 AM

    This lady is facebookless but would LOVE to enter to win some ‘o dat vanilla!

    :) Thanks! love, love, love this blog.

  • Reply foodfeud 7 September 2012 at 2:37 AM

    Too bad about the baking disasters and the pretty confetti sprinkles! That’s why I rarely come up with my own recipes… I KNOW i’d mess it up. But it sounds like Thom is super supportive. I hope he got some of those awesome looking brownies.

  • Reply joanne 7 September 2012 at 2:38 AM

    I have to give you kudos for hanging in and making these yummy looking brownies! I will try it.
    And yes, please enter me to win a bottle of your fabulous vanilla. Thanks!

  • Reply Kristy 7 September 2012 at 5:42 AM

    I totally feel you on the bad luck backing streak. There are days where my trashcan looks like a graveyard of kitchen disasters (learning experiences). Thom is so sweet- I loved his little bath time pep talk. :-)

    These brownies look absolutely divine! I’m off to your FB page to try and get me some vanilla!

  • Reply Baker Bettie 7 September 2012 at 12:25 PM

    Happy Birthday Oh LadyCakes! Congrats. What an accomplishment!

    I have had my fair share of baking days like the ones you describe. So frustrating. WHY CAN’T EVERYTHING THAT COMES OUT OF OUR KITCHENS BE THE BEST TASTING THINGS EVER?! But can I just say, these look freaking amazing! And Thom sounds so sweet.

  • Reply Melissa // the faux martha 7 September 2012 at 1:04 PM

    My oh my have I had those days. Where I swear I’ll never bake another thing because I’m horrible. I hate those days but good stuff comes out of them. Hello, these brownies loook deeVINE! Happy 1 year. You are going to do great things in the years ahead. I can see it!

  • Reply Laura 7 September 2012 at 1:41 PM

    Whoop! for 1 year of awesomeness. And for failure baking that isn’t a total failure because you can generally eat it anyway. And for victory brownies. HOW HAVE I NOT HAD SPECULOOS YET? Where do you fancy people get it?!?!

  • Reply thelittleloaf 7 September 2012 at 1:48 PM

    I think these might look like the best brownies I’ve ever seen! Thanks to The Faux Martha for introducing me to your gorgeous blog :-)

  • Reply Sunday Morning Banana Pancakes 7 September 2012 at 2:17 PM

    The bath of shame – ha! Well it seemed to work, these brownies are A+…and yes we ALL have off days & good baking intentions gone bad (it really should be a show), so you are not alone :)

    Happy 1 year Anniversary to Oh, Ladycakes!

  • Reply Parish Family 7 September 2012 at 10:30 PM

    You are great baker, every recipe I’ve tried has been delicious! Can’t wait to make these! And I would love some of your vanilla…and I have successfully avoided face book!

  • Reply Parish Family 7 September 2012 at 10:30 PM

    You are great baker, every recipe I’ve tried has been delicious! Can’t wait to make these! And I would love some of your vanilla…and I have successfully avoided face book!

  • Reply Dawn 8 September 2012 at 3:02 AM

    Because one can never have too much organic, local vanilla made by Ashlae! Hope I win some in honor of your one year (really? only one year?) Blogiversary!

    And, I have some Speculoos that I never quite used up…


  • Reply IZZ 8 September 2012 at 3:36 AM

    Girl, you could never be a bad baker. For one thing, it’s in your genes (your lovely Oma, right?) and for another, you’ve had this successful baking blog called OhLadycakes here now for, oh yeah, ONE FREAKING WHOLE YEAR! Obviously you’re good at baking. Suck it up woman!

    Tough love. I mean the best, really :)
    But honestly – your blog is very much loved. As are you.

    On another note: why the hell have I never tried Speculoos anyway? I wanna try! But then again, you got me hooked on JPB cups already so I’m not sure if I should. Sneaky, sneaky. I shall not try it!
    But maybe if I ever pass it, I’ll just accidentally drop some into my basket..we’ll see.

  • Reply ZZI 8 September 2012 at 3:38 AM

    Oh and I’m not entering for the vanilla, even though I used all mine up after like, the first few weeks. And it really is incredible. But I have something coming in the mail for you tomorrow.


  • Reply cookingwithlysa 8 September 2012 at 7:48 PM

    Happy first anniversary to Ohladycakes! I love your blog so much…you always have amazing recipe, funny posts to read and beautiful photos ! Every time I tried a recipe from your blog, it was delicious! I can’t wait to try this delicious looking brownie!!

  • Reply Julia 8 September 2012 at 9:17 PM

    This is one good looking brownie cake! Congratulations on your anniversary!

  • Reply Richa 9 September 2012 at 1:14 AM

    wowza 8 cans of coconut milk and 4 pounds of sugar! are nothing in front of these swirly brownie goodness! happy blogoversary!

  • Reply Maddy 9 September 2012 at 5:55 AM

    This looks fantastic…but now all I have is twix on the mind! Please tell me you’re still working on that?:)

  • Reply Ann 10 September 2012 at 1:00 AM

    Awww, bath of shame. Everyone has a bad day – I’m glad that you’re back on track. :) I’d love to win a bottle of your vanilla – no Facebook account for me to enter though.

  • Reply Cookie and Kate 10 September 2012 at 1:19 AM

    Kitchen fails get me down, too. These brownies look like mega winners, though! I got my first taste of speculoos the other day and I all I can say is that these brownies would be far too dangerous to keep in my kitchen. Anyway, happy blog birthday, love what you’re doing here!

  • Reply eclairre 12 September 2012 at 6:46 AM

    please enter me to win a bottle of your fabulous vanilla. thank you eclairre(at)ymail(dot)com

  • Reply Champagne Violet 24 September 2012 at 7:55 PM

    Oh my goodness! These look SOOO delicious!


  • Reply vegan.in.brighton 10 October 2012 at 8:03 AM

    Wow, those look seriously amazing. I wish I’d notice the competition earlier! As a non-facebook person I love that you had another option for entering!

  • Reply Valerie 17 October 2012 at 4:20 AM

    Mmmm yum yum! This one definitely looks so yummy! I will definitely give this recipe a try soon! And yes, like what you’ve said, I will be substituting it with coconut oil and will just proceed with caution. Thanks for sharing this wonderful recipe! :)

  • Reply Seitan 12 November 2012 at 4:14 PM

    Beautiful cake and even more beautiful pictures. I love the macro pic with the spoon!

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  • Reply Marilyn 23 April 2015 at 10:59 AM

    I know this is a late post…..you may not even read it! But I had to share my WORST kitchen disaster. I started baking at a young age and somewhere around 10 I was making my favorite Lemon Tea Cookies – which used 1 1/2 T. vinegar. Don’t know where my mind was, but for some reason I did 1 1/2 cups of Vinegar! Yikes. Not even the dog would eat them. Not only that, but to this day, almost 40 years later, the smell of vinegar makes my stomach turn.

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