Friday, December 31, 2010

Orange Anise Cloud Cookies

I’ve been thinking about new cookie recipes and I’ve also been wanting to work with anise seeds. If you’ve had Italian cookies or classic biscotti or the biscochitos of New Mexico or Spanish mantecados, you know how really delicious just a hint of anise can be.

These little cookies are so ultra light you’ll hardly know you’ve eaten one. The flavors are very subtle, the texture crispy and delicious. I’ve added semolina for a nice crumb and the orange zest really brightens the taste. If you’re looking for a unique cookie to add to your file, try these little clouds. I'm betting they go well with champagne.

A note of special thanks and appreciation to all the readers and supporters of this blog. I'm very grateful for your gracious company. Here’s wishing everyone a very Happy New Year full of friends, family, new opportunities and the sharing of many delicious morsels!

Bench notes:
- I used a #40 ice cream scoop to portion these cookies. It speeds up the process and creates uniform cookies. (The #40 refers to 40 scoops per quart.)
- The baked cookies are lightly dusted with confectioner’s sugar rather than rolled and coated.
- These cookies are best stored in an airtight container if they last that long!
- Bouchon, little chocolate cakes baked in the shape of a champagne cork, make an especially fun New Year's Eve treat.

Orange Anise Cloud Cookies

Makes about 24 cookies

1 1/2 C flour
1/2 C semolina
1/2 C + 1 T sugar
1/4 t salt
1 t anise seeds
zest of 1 large orange
8 oz cold butter, cut into small pieces
1 t vanilla

1/4 C confectioner's sugar for dusting

Place the flour, semolina, sugar, salt, anise seeds and orange zest in the bowl of a food processor. Blend for a few minutes until the orange zest and some of the seeds are finely chopped. Add the butter and vanilla and process until a soft dough begins to form.

Pour the dough out onto a work surface and knead if necessary to fully blend. Scoop or shape the dough into 24 balls about 1 1/4” in diameter and place on a small baking sheet. Wrap and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Bake on the center rack of the oven for about 22-24 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through. The bottoms should be golden but the tops should not take on any color. Cool completely. Using a sifter, lightly dust the tops of the cookies with confectioner’s sugar.


Victoria said...

Licorice/anise is one of my favorite flavors. That's putting it mildly. I crave licorice much more than I ever crave chocolate. I also love the scent of oranges so these look divine to me.

I use a Fran Gage recipe for licorice ice cream, which is a lovely pale champagne color and has an elusive, haunting taste. It's made with licorice tea; I use Yogi brand. My creme brulee recipe calls for Amaretto or Frangelico, and lately I've been wondering how I can tweak it in favor of licorice. Perhaps Sambuca, or would that be too strong? Maybe infusing the cream with star anise?

I don't know about measuring cookie scoops that way; I will have to check that system out.

Happy New Year. May you have a fruitful and wonderful 2011, and may your project move forward!

pastry studio said...

One of my closest friends in NYC was telling me a couple of days ago that she craves licorice. I wonder what element it contains t that satisfies the craving? I would really love to try Fran Gage's licorice ice cream! I had that tea at a friend's house last year and I loved it. I also have Fennel Ice Cream staged for posting at some point.

I've only had Sambuca once at a party. It was poured over coffee beans and it was pretty good! It does have a very strong flavor though. You can try steeping your creme brulee with star anise, plain anise or fennel seeds. Add a little shot of Sambuca to fortify.

I'm about halfway through my project. It's a TON of work but very enjoyable. Will keep you posted!

A Plum By Any Other Name said...

I feel like an 80 year old woman saying this, but I love licorice. So the sound of these cookies ... and of the ice cream (both licorice AND fennel varieties) sounds divine. Happy New Year!

Sprinzette said...

These looks fantastic; I've just been experimenting with orange scented almond shortbread, so think this variation could be a lovely adjustment.

Looking forward to all the New Year inspiration.

Anonymous said...


I am afraid this will not be a comment to this recipe... I hope you forgive me for that:)

Do you perhaps have a seriously good carrot cake recipe somewhere, without heaps of oil and sugar? I would be so thankful to have one!

pastry studio said...

Anonymous, I hear you on the need for less sweet and lighter pastry. I'm sorry I don't have a carrot cake recipe I'm prepared to share. However, you can always substitute applesauce for about 1/2 to 3/4 of the oil in your recipe and cut the sugar back by 25% (using half white and half brown) and it should still work pretty well.

a frog in the cottage said...

they look so yummy !!!

Anonymous said...

my cookies flattened. How disappointing! I chilled the dough for 50 mins. Maybe not enough? What is your volume to weight (grams) conversion for flour & sugar?

pastry studio said...

Anonymous, thanks very much for your feedback. So sorry to hear your cookies didn't retain their shape. They really should be pretty chilled. Depending on how cold your refrigerator is, it may take longer than 50 minutes. Even when you start with very cold butter, working it into a cookie dough will warm it up significantly. So I usually refrigerate mine for about 4 hours or so. Just a habit I have for cookies with a high ratio of butter.

This is my standard for volume and weight that we used in pastry school: 1 C flour = 5 oz (aerate the flour, dip and sweep) and 1 C sugar = 7 oz. I hope this helps.