There is nothing better than the smell of fresh cookies baking throughout your house. Each cookie smell brings back memories of childhood. I’m thrilled to be partnering once again with my friends at Crate and Barrel to share these delicious and beautiful holiday Anise Citrus Cutout Cookies and hopefully make them a tradition in your home.
This post is sponsored by Crate and Barrel, all ideas and opinions are my own.
Aniseed vs Star Anise
Growing up I could always remember the smell of anise throughout the house, whether it was from cookies or tea – called Yansoon. It’s a smell that evokes a sense of healing and comfort.
When one hears the spice anise, most think of star anise – which has a distinct star-shape. There are actually two types of anise – here is a little snippet clarifying the two different spices. Aniseed is actually much more mild in flavor – not as overpowering as star anise, so if you think you aren’t a fan of the flavor – give these a try and you may be surprised.
Common Anise (Aniseed) comes from the plant Pimpinella anisum. This spice is botanically related to dill, cumin, fennel, and caraway. Aniseed is often used in liquors such as Sambuca and Ouzo. The seeds, in both ground and whole form, are also used in bread-making and to prepare herbal teas and infusions. It is also used as a substitute for licorice in candy-making.From MySpicer.com
Star Anise is the star shaped fruit of a tree that is a member of the magnolia family. It has a similar licorice flavor as Common Anise but the flavor is stronger and more potent. It is most often used in Asian cooking and is the main ingredient in Chinese “five-spice” powder.
I urge you to try aniseed over star anise to achieve a mild, subtle flavor that really lends itself well to baked goods and teas, you’ll be pleasantly surprised. The most common anise cookie is the biscotti – a traditional biscotti uses aniseed or ground anise to create that signature flavor.
I’ll be completely honest, cut out cookies aren’t usually my favorite – to make. But they are too dang adorable not to, especially during the the holidays and a perfect activity to do with kids!!! I start to stress out about the dough falling apart, being too soft, thick enough, thin enough, so many factors! But, one of my absolute favorite cookies are apricot sablé – a delicate shortbread style cookie that my mom used to make. It really brings back memories. I realized is the dough is a DREAM to work with and perfect for cutout cookies of any kind. Very similar to a traditional shortbread but when baked it’s soft, silky and buttery. Like any good cookie, it requires good butter – so be sure to use your finest. Here is a breakdown of what you’ll need:
- Butter – Since these cookies are mostly butter and flour, using the best butter you can find really makes a difference. I really enjoy a European Style Butter.
- Powdered Sugar – You know how I mentioned that soft, silky texture? The powdered sugar really lends itself to that making it a soft dough that melts in your mouth. C&H is my preferred brand.
- Anise – To make these cookies stand out and give that that holiday flair, we’re going to add some anise to give them that distinct flavor. Paired with orange it is a dream!
- Orange Zest – We don’t want to add any liquid to these cookies, instead we’ll use orange zest to bring about the orange flavor in a subtle way.
- Orange Blossom Water – Orange blossom water is a common extract used in Middle Eastern desserts. It’s delicate and floral and really shines when baked. We’ll be using it to create our beautiful glaze.
- Pistachios – Pistachios are another common ingredient in Middle Eastern desserts, their mild flavor and beautiful color give these cookies the special holiday look they deserve. I opt to mix pistachios in half of my mixture and leave the other half plain.
- Eggs + Salt + Flour + Baking Powder
Mixing the Cookie Dough
If you’ve been following me for a while, you know that baking is my ultimate weakness and pleasure and some of my prized possessions include my mixers. I absolutely LOVE my KitchenAid ® Artisan Mixer, especially in this Steel Blue exclusive to Crate and Barrel. It would make an absolutely perfect holiday gift for a loved one that enjoys baking. Having my mixer on hand, making this dough is a cinch! A simple blend of butter and sugar and eggs, then adding your dry ingredients is all it needs to create a cohesive dough. The hardest part is waiting for the dough to chill to work with it.
Pro Tip – when zesting your orange, do it directly over the mixing bowl so you don’t lose out on any zest!
Is there anything more festive than these cookie cutters? I adore this Lékué Christmas Tree Multi Cookie Cutter, a simple and easy way to get multi-cookies at once – a win, win for all! 19 cookies from one single cut, perfect for creating a little tree forest of your own! I know some may not agree with me, but I prefer a smaller cookie – petite and just one quick bite. You can mix them up with these larger Winter Cookie Cutters, a fun way to create a festive platter for the holidays. The set includes: evergreen tree, stocking hat, mitten and candy cane. Both sets are dishwasher safe and perfect for little hands to create magical cookies. You can find them exclusively at Crate and Barrel!!
Pro Tip – Wrap and chill dough, when ready to roll allow to soften slightly for ease. This dough is very easy to work with and even not chilled will work just fine.
Glaze and Decorating
There are so many different ways to decorate cookies – from royal icing to chocolate or a simple sugar glaze. I like keeping these cookies simple and natural with a simple sugar glaze that can absolutely be tinted in any color you’d like or adding some sprinkles to add color and bedazzle.
Starting out with powdered sugar and adding a hint of orange blossom water, and orange zest will give us that fragrant and exotic flavor. Orange blossom is used heavily in Middle Eastern desserts and this glaze helps to enhance the slight orange flavor from the zest.
Cookies can be simply dipped and allowed to dry or drizzle your glaze to make a more distinctive pattern. Sprinkles are always a great idea to get color and texture into your cookies. I love these with silver ball sprinkles – they really show the beauty and simplicity of the cookie.
Pro tip – A simple sugar glaze is VERY forgiving! Too thin, add more powdered sugar, too thick? Add more extract or a splash of milk to get the consistency you need.
While some of your cookies may include pistachios for that extra crunch and color, you can also add some to the tops for a real holiday look as well.
As with any baking, it’s a science so making sure the right components are in place to make it seamless and effortless.
My cookies are too dark –
Oven temperatures vary greatly! The best tip is picking up an oven
thermometer to make sure your oven heats properly. Also, I always start checking my cookies at the earliest range of time. The reason baking recipes often contain a range of time is for that reason exactly – lot of oven temperature variations. Looks and smells are your friend for baking.
My dough is too soft –
Chilling your dough is important, although this dough is quite forgiving – a chill for at least 30 minutes helps make it easier to work with – especially in warmer temperatures.
My dough is too hard –
While we want to chill our dough, keeping in the fridge for too long will definitely make it hard. It is ABSOLUTELY fine! It just may need a bit longer and a little more work to soften up before working with it.
The Glaze –
The glaze is the most important part of these beauties. Filled with orange blossom water and some additional orange zest, they really bring up the flavor and sweetness. A few tips:
– Test ONE cookie first to make sure your consistency is thick enough to coat and also not too thing where it won’t dry. You can always add more sugar to thicken and more extract to thin. Different brands of confectioners sugar may yield different results.
– A thin layer of glaze is best to allow cookies to dry fast – if adding sprinkles top just after glazing so they adhere.
– You may add any food coloring to your glaze to color – a gel or paste is preferred to ensure no additional liquid is added.
I can’t think of anything more festive than sitting down with the family and decorating holiday cookies. Celebrations this year may look a little different but cookies are always a great idea to share with family and friends. Crate and Barrel is definitely your source for holiday preparing and gift giving.
The season of giving has never been more important than right now. Spending time away from family and friends doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate together. Put together a simple cookie plate, pick up this GORGEOUS Primrose Gold Salad Plate from Crate and Barrel and stack cookies to deliver to a friend or leave out for “you know who” on Christmas Eve. Or maybe make a beautiful platter for your own family. This food safe Feast Platter exclusive at Crate and Barrel is perfect for serving cookies or even a beautiful charcuterie board or meal for your family this holiday season.
You can check out my recent post on How to Host a Virtual Cookie Party to get your creative juices flowing and perhaps incorporate these fun and festive cookies to the mix.
As always, I love seeing your creations. Please leave a review or share your dish with me on social media #cosetteskitchen which lets me know what is working for you! You can also tag my friends at Crate and Barrel! You can find me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest. For more delicious recipes to your inbox, sign up for my newsletter!
This post is sponsored by Crate and Barrel, all opinions and ideas are my own.Print
A tender delicate cutout cookie, perfect for the holiday season.
In partnership with Crate and Barrel.
- 1 pound + 4 tablespoons unsalted butter -515 grams or 4.5 sticks, softened
- 1.5 cups powdered sugar -165 grams, additional for rolling
- 2 large eggs, whisked
- Zest of 1 large orange or 3 smaller mandarin oranges
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 8 cups all-purpose flour – 1000 grams (spooned and leveled if not weighing)
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 teaspoons whole aniseed (not star anise)
- 2 teaspoons ground anise
- 1/2 cup chopped unsalted pistachios (optional)
- 1 cup powdered sugar/confectioners sugar
- 2–3 teaspoons of orange blossom water
- pinch of salt
- orange zest, about 1/2 teaspoon
Preparing the Dough
- In the bowl of your Artisan KitchenAid Mixer, fitted with paddle attachment add your softened butter and powdered sugar.
- Set to stir setting initially to ensure powdered sugar doesn’t come out of the bowl. Slowly mix until sugar and butter are incorporated then increase speed to about a 6 for 3-4 minutes until light and fluffy.
- Add your 2 whisked eggs and be sure to stop and scrape down sides as needed. Add your orange zest.
- Your mixture at this time will probably look slightly curdled, that’s ok.
- Slow your mixer down to stir again and add in half your flour, mix.
- Once combined add in the rest of your flour, baking powder and spices.
- Dough should be thick.
- Remove from mixer and split into 2, if you’d like to add pistachios to one dough – or even both, add in your chopped pistachios now and work into your dough. If you want to add to both – double to 1 full cup.
- Wrap in plastic wrap and pop into the fridge for about 30 minutes.
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and rack set to center of oven while your dough chills.
Rolling and Shaping
- Remove your dough out of the fridge and cut off a portion to work with.
- Sprinkle your work surface with a bit of powdered sugar, a cold countertop is best to work.
- Using a rolling pin, begin to roll out your dough until it’s evenly about 1/8″ thick.
- Then begin using your Lekue Christmas Tree Multi Cookie Cutter and Winter Cookie Cutters to cut out festive cookies.
- Continue to gather scraps of dough and reroll – chill again if needed.
- Line your cookies on your All-Clad Pro-Release Cookie Sheet, leaving cookies 1/2-3/4″ apart. Bake in center of oven for 14-17 minutes until edges and bottoms begin to slightly brown but cookies remain white in color on top.
- Begin checking cookies at the 14 minute mark as oven temperatures vary.
- Remove from oven and let cool on cooling rack before decorating.
- In a small bowl, add your powdered sugar, a few teaspoons of orange blossom water, salt and orange zest.
- Stir heavily with a spoon until all the sugar is incorporated.
- The glaze should be thick but run off the spoon.
- Test 1 cookie with the glaze to ensure it hardens after 5-6 minutes – if it doesn’t add some additional powdered sugar to your mix to thicken.
- If it’s too thick, add a splash more orange blossom water to thin.
- Once desired consistency is achieve, glaze cookies, add sprinkles or make additional batches and color.
- Glaze is best used immediately.
- Cooking dough can be frozen in a sealed container for up to 3 months, as well as baked and frosted cookies. You can also freeze unglazed cookies ahead and decorate before serving.
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