Saturday 17 March 2018

Teen Spirit... and aniseed cookies

Feed your inner sugar junkie with these lightly spiced, healthy-assed cookies

Susan Jane White
Susan Jane White

Susan Jane White

Aniseed is a spice with a liquorice-like taste normally associated with the intoxicating whiff of Sambuca and absinthe. And a cavalry of cringeful teen-memories outside the tennis-club disco. This recipe is about to change all that.

The delicate taste and scent of aniseed, or anise, was hijacked by the liquor industry in the 1980s and early 1990s. Since then, it went into hibernation (diplomatic speak for rejection). But aniseed is not all that pungent - its flavour was deliberately ramped up by distillers. The key to this spice is to treat it like seasoning. Just a whisper. Keep the spice whole, add sweetness, fat and sea salt, and you've got yourself a little lovebomb for the body.

Whole aniseeds are like deep green cumin seeds, only with a tiny wispy tail. In India, adults often chew the seeds after spicy meals, both as a digestive aid and to sweeten sour breath. Rad! I'd rather horse into these cookies though.

Naturally, we've included a secret-agent fat and a low-glycemic sweetener to keep your dimples glowing for longer.

Aniseed & Sea Salt Cookies

Makes 18-25 cookies.

My inner Cookie Monster is always looking for a sweet and salty hit. These biscuits are The Boss, especially if you're trying to wean yourself off Jaffa Cakes and candy. I get my unsalted cashews in my local four-letter German supermarket for one-quarter of the usual price. Shhhh.

Maple syrup, honey and agave nectar won't work in this recipe. Only a food scientist and God can tell you why.

You will need:

90g (3½oz) oat flakes

135g (5½oz) unsalted cashew nuts

130g (5½oz) brown rice flour

1 tablespoon milled flaxseed

½ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon Maldon sea salt flakes

½ teaspoon whole aniseed

125ml (4½oz) extra virgin coconut oil, melted

145ml (5oz) brown rice syrup

Preheat your oven to 180C, 350F, gas mark 4.

Finely grind the oats, the cashews, the brown rice flour, the milled flaxseed and baking powder in a food processor until they resemble breadcrumbs. Try not to aim for a flour, as this would be too fine a consistency.

Then add the sea salt - it's worth making sure your salt is in flakes, and not milled like Pink Himalayan salt. Then add the whole aniseed spice, your melted coconut oil, and the gorgeously glossy brown rice syrup. Pulse again until a big dough ball forms in the basin of your food processor.

Pull off an apricot-sized piece of dough and roll into a ball between your palms. Flatten each with a spatula on a lined baking tray. You're looking for 1cm in depth. I usually bake the cookies in batches or freeze half the cookie dough for another day.

Cook for 10-12 minutes depending on their size (but no longer, promise me!) and remove from the oven before they turn a shade darker.

Don't worry if they seem soft or undercooked - they will harden as they cool down. Overcooking them will result in a crumbly cookie rather than a snappy, chewy cookie.

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