Maple-Star Anise Cookies

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RECIPE: There are some unusual biscuits in Dorie’s book, and every one I’ve tried has been very enjoyable. These maple-star anise cookies were no different. I didn’t alter the recipe, however I’ve adapted the method for the frosting below based on this baking experience. I wasn’t expecting to challenge myself, simply aiming to make something easy to take to a morning tea.

COMPONENTS: Really, as for most biscuit recipes this one only calls for you to gradually add ingredients and combine them as you go. Not hard, and it all went as planned. I followed the recipe to prepare the cream cheese frosting, which told you to add the cream cheese at the beginning – the same time as the butter. The end result was my frosting was runny like icing. Everyone was happy to eat it like that, but it definitely wasn’t the desired finish. After doing some research online, I discovered that the prevailing recommendation was that this happened because the cream cheese has a lot of water and can’t stand up to too much beating, and therefore the frosting usually turned out if you added the cream cheese right at the end. It needs to be the same temperature as the mix so it combines properly, and don’t use light cream cheese – it has too much liquid in it.

ASSEMBLY: The biscuit balls are rolled in the sugar and then baked. If your frosting works, you’ll have a sandwich biscuit at the end that has a nice even layer of frosting in the middle. If like me, your frosting didn’t work, you’ll have iced biscuits.

IMPRESSION: Yum. I HATE liquorice, but the mild star anise flavour in these biscuits didn’t bother me at all. They were delicious, mildly spiced, and the frosting was a perfect flavour match.

Recipe from Dorie’s Cookies by Dorie Greenspan

204g plain flour
68g whole wheat flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 1/4 tsp ground star anise
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
226g unsalted butter, cut into chunks, at room temperature
100g light brown sugar
50g granulated white sugar
Finely grated zest of one orange
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1 large egg, at room temperature
2 tbs maple syrup
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Raw or granulated sugar, for coating

Preheat the oven to 180 Celcius. Line two baking sheets with baking paper or silicone sheets.

Whisk both flours, the baking soda, star anise, ginger and cinnamon together.

Beat the butter, both sugars, the orange zest and salt on medium speed for 3 minutes, scraping down the bowl as needed. Add the egg, followed by the maple syrup and vanilla, and beat for another 2 minutes.

Turn off the mixture and add all the dry ingredients at once. Pulse the mixer until the dry ingredients start to combine, then beat on low until combined.

Put some raw or granulated sugar in a small bowl. Roll a heaped teaspoonful of dough between your palms, then roll in the sugar until evenly coated and place on the baking sheet, leaving 5cm between each ball.

Bake for 11-12 minutes, rotating sheets as required. The top of the cookies will crust but still feel a little soft in the centre, with set edges.

Allow the cookies to cool on the tray for 5 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool completely.

Spiced cream cheese frosting

113g full-fat cream cheese, room temperature
56g unsalted butter, cut into chunks at room temperature
Pinch of fine sea salt
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
240g confectioners sugar, sifted
2 tsp maple syrup
1/8 tsp ground star anise
1/8 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon

Beat the butter, salt and vanilla extract at medium speed until smooth and creamy.

Beat in the confectioners sugar until incorporated. Beat in the maple syrup, star anise, ginger and cinnamon. Beat in the cream cheese until smooth, being careful to not over-beat, as this will make the frosting go runny.

Once cooled, pair the cookies according to size and frost one with the cream cheese frosting, then top with the other. Refrigerate for 30 minutes before covering.

Remove from the refrigerator 15 minutes before serving.

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