By Angela Denstad Stigeler
Sometimes you just need a new outlook on things. Take dessert, for example. In January, everyone’s in the mood to trim back on the excess of the previous year’s end, but without a little sweet, life seems rather bland. Here’s a nice lacy little cookie that can really help spruce up a kitchen. They take just minutes to whip up and have a nice balance of flavors: the freshness of orange, pungent fennel seed, a good pinch of salt and the mellow sweet of honey and almond. These are the sort of cookies that spread out into intricate lace patterns as they bake. They’re thin and malleable when they immerge from the oven, so if they happen to run together, you can pat them back into shape. When they’re half-set, you can even choose to form them into little cones or tiny baskets, the sort that might later hold a scoop of ice cream. Even later, when they seem resolute, you can gently reheat them and get them to bend. Of course, you might rather leave them flat as crunchy golden doilies that go perfectly with coffee or tea. However you choose to enjoy them, these sheer confections compliment any kitchen.
Almond-Orange Wafer Cookies
3/4 teaspoon anise or fennel seeds
1/2 cup slivered almonds
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest
Preheat the oven to 375°F with the racks positioned in the middle and lower third. In a spice grinder or food processor, grind the anise or fennel seeds. Add the almonds and pulse until coarsely ground. Transfer the mixture to a small saucepan and add the butter, sugar, honey, and salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring to combine the ingredients as the butter melts. Boil 1 minute; remove from heat. Stir in the flour and orange zest.
Working quickly, drop the batter by teaspoonfuls 2-1/2 inches apart onto two parchment-lined baking sheets, one dozen to each full sheet. Bake until golden brown, 6 to 8 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets on wire racks. If desired, form cones or small bowls from the wafers when partially set. Store cookies in a single layer in an air-tight container at room temperature.
Recipe adapted from Everyday Food