I stopped drinking milk when I was a wee one. I was either ten or two. Like I’ve said before, memory is never to be trusted completely. I couldn’t tell you why, but from there I cultivated an unexplained aversion to savory white and creamy foods. Milk, cream cheese, cottage cheese, sour cream… yuck. Mayonnaise…. big time gag. I grew up eating my Lucky Charms dry and buttering my bagels. Somehow though I could handle mayonnaise on my sandwich, but barely, and only if in infinitesimally small amounts. If there was one bit of it squirting out onto the edges of the bread, forget about it. If I saw any sign of it on my plate or in my food, I’d rather starve. No joke. Clandestine mayonnaise only.
At some point, I decided that the entirety of all that is savory and white and creamy to be utterly unacceptable, inedible, and frankly, atrocious. Since then, while I still haven’t eaten dairy in over a decade, my aversion to savory white and creamy foods has dwindled ever so slightly. I can handle some in their non-dairy versions now, but mayonnaise… I’m not sure I’ll ever learn to tolerate mayonnaise. To this day, gag.
Imagine my shock and awe when after making these cookies, taking one bite, and thinking yum! These would go great dunked into a glass of milk. Never in my life have I ever dunked, or even had the desire to dunk, a cookie into milk. Milk is right up there with mayonnaise.
It was a fleeting thought, but nonetheless, an eye-opening insight into the desire to dunk a cookie into milk. Not that I’ll ever actually do it, but I kinda get it now.
These cookies are buttery and rich with all the sophistication and simplicity of a shortbread. I can see them being dunked into a glass of milk or a hot cup of Earl Grey tea. The addition of fennel seed, orange zest, and orange blossom water make these cookies fit for your fanciest tea time or a super special afternoon snack.
food is medicine
One of the most powerful medicinal qualities of fennel is its ability to support healthy digestion. Fennel is known to have both carminative and antispasmodic actions. As a carminative, the aromatic essential oils in fennel help to settle and relax the muscles in the gut which, in turn, help to prevent and relieve excess gas and spasms that cause painful abdominal cramping. For this reason, these cookies are great to enjoy after a meal, to help you digest the food you just enjoyed. Not that you ever need an excuse to eat dessert, but now you have another reason to eat dessert.
|Fennel seed||excellent source of vitamin C,|
dietary fiber, potassium,
manganese, copper, & folate;
good source of calcium,
magnesium, iron, & niacin
|Think digestive health!|
galactagogue, nervine, tonic
|Orange zest||vitamin C, calcium, |
|Coconut oil||healthy fat |
(primarily saturated fats,
composed primarily of MCTs
that may help with energy,
heart health, & neurological health
fennel, orange blossom, & almond tea cookiesCourse: Sweets
These cookies have all the rich and buttery sophistication of a classic shortbread with the added elegance of citrus and floral. They’re a little softer than classic shortbread, but still crisp, crumbly, and perfect for dunking into a glass of milk or cup of hot tea. Lemon zest and rose water would be a lovely alternative! And don’t skip the toasted fennel seed garnish… it’s the best part!
1 teaspoon fennel seed, ground (see notes)
1 1/4 cup powdered sugar, divided
3/4 cup almonds
1/2 teaspoon finely grated orange zest (use organic if accessible)
1/2 cup butter, room temperature (dairy or non-dairy, your choice*)
1/2 cup unrefined coconut oil, solid
1 1/2 teaspoon orange blossom water
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour (use organic if accessible)
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 tablespoons whole fennel seeds
- Preheat oven to 350F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
- In a food processor, add ground fennel seed, 1 cup powdered sugar (save 1/4 cup for later), & almonds. Pulse until finely ground.
- Add the orange zest, butter, coconut oil, orange blossom water, all-purpose flour, & salt to the food processor. Process until it starts to resemble a crumbly dough.
- Use a wooden spoon to transfer the dough to a mixing bowl & if necessary, continue to mix the dough until uniformly combined. The dough will be crumbly & dry, but should hold together when squeezed.
- Using a tablespoon, take slightly heaping tablespoons of dough & roll into equal sized balls. (If the dough is hard to handle, you can put it in the fridge for 15-20 minutes to firm it up.) You should end up with approx. 2 dozen balls.
- Add the remaining 1/4 cup of powdered sugar to a small bowl or plate. Roll each ball in the powdered sugar & then place on the prepared baking sheet. Space the cookies about 2 inches from each other. They will not spread much.
- Use the flat bottom of a clean glass to gently flatten the dough balls & sprinkle with the whole toasted fennel seeds. Gently press the fennel seeds into the dough.
- Bake at 350F for 15-17 minutes, just until the bottom edges of the cookies start to turn a golden brown.
- Transfer the baking sheets to a cooling rack & enjoy them warm or let cool completely. Store leftovers in an air-tight container.
- Butter substitutes? I’ve always been partial to Earth Balance Organic Dairy-Free Whipped Buttery Spread which is non-GMO and vegan. If you choose to use dairy, consider doing the research and knowing where your food is coming from. I imagine you can switch out the butter in this recipe for more coconut oil if desired, although I can’t guarantee the same results.
- Fennel seed: You can use whole fennel seeds and grind them yourself in a spice or coffee grinder. Store extra ground fennel in a tightly sealed container in your spice cabinet.
- Want more flavor?! Who doesn’t?! If you’re starting from whole fennel seeds, you can toast them 20-30 seconds or until golden & fragrant. Once they cool, grind them to a powder. Toasting the seeds will add a richness & depth of flavor.
If you make these delightful cookies, I’d love to hear what you think of them! Tag me in your posts on Instagram or Facebook, or leave a comment below!
- Key Herbs and Nutrients to Support Health Digestion. Alinda Boyd. 2019. Published online 2019 Oct 01.