I’m not an optimist at heart, so when I complain of the cold and someone says something to me like “Believe it or not, spring is just around the corner,” it does not make me feel any better about my not-quite-waterproof boots and feather-leaking down jacket. Seriously, whenever I take it off white feathers explode out of it, covering me in fluff — not chic. But it is warm.
Anyway, my point is this: it is winter, so just deal with it.
Sorry for being so grumpy. I’m trying very hard to smilingly follow my cold-weather mantra but it’s difficult to do so when, while disembarking from the bus, I have no other choice but to step into a thigh-high snowbank, which is what I did on Monday. But, as I waded my way out, I grimly grinned — winter isn’t going to get the best of me. In fact, I’m going to take advantage of the freezing temperatures by making a batch of cookies perfect for snacking on the sofa with a blanket.
I’m a sucker for sugar cookies, but what I had in mind was something with a little more of a tang and a lot less sweetness. I had fooled around with an anise biscotti recipe not too long ago; the flavor was nice, but I’ve never been terribly fond of biscotti’s tooth-crushing crunch — dentists must make a fortune off of biscotti enthusiasts, don’t you think?
After pondering for a while, I decided lemon and anise would make a good combination; the citrus and licorice flavors wouldn’t be overly sugary, and besides, I already had a tried-and-true lemony cookie recipe that would be able to stand up to some tweaking. With some experimentation, and after eating a lot of dough, I found the ideal balance of lemon and licorice — though I should tell you that I do prefer food (and cookies) on the more lemony side of the spectrum. All I can do is advise you to taste your dough along the way and add more or less flavoring as you see fit. Just make sure that when the cookies are done you take a few to your favorite spot on the couch, along with a cup of tea and your warmest quilt. Then you’ll be ready to wait out the winter ’til spring.
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 ¾ cups granulated sugar
¼ cup packed light-brown sugar
zest of 1 good-sized lemon, plus 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon fennel seed
1 cup unsalted butter, (2 sticks), softened
2 large eggs
- Preheat oven to 350°. Sift flour, baking soda, and salt into a bowl; set aside.
- Put sugars and lemon zest in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed 30 seconds. Add butter; mix until pale and fluffy, about 1 minute. Mix in eggs, 1 at a time, and then the lemon juice and fennel seed. Reduce speed; gradually add flour mixture, and mix until just combined.
- Scoop dough using a 2-inch ice cream scoop; space cookies 2 inches apart on parchment-lined baking sheets. Flatten cookies with a spatula or bottom of a drinking glass. Bake cookies until golden, about 15 minutes. Let cool on sheets on wire racks for 5 minutes. Transfer cookies to racks and let cool completely. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to 3 days.