Five-spice powder is used extensively in Chinese cooking, and more recently, American chefs have discovered its flavorful versatility. Butter intensifies the exceptional mixture of five ground spices-cinnamon, cloves, fennel seed, star anise and Szechuan peppercorns-to create an exciting variation of a classic holiday spice cookie.
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons Chinese five-spice powder*
1 tablespoon orange zest, finely-grated
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 cups flour
Combine butter and sugar in a medium bowl. Using an electric mixer or wooden
spoon, cream together until light and fluffy.
Beat in egg yolks, one at a time.
Stir in the five-spice powder, orange zest and salt.
Then stir in the flour. Continue to blend just until the dough comes together
and is evenly mixed.
Divide into three flattened balls and wrap in plastic wrap.
Chill dough for at least 3 hours or overnight.
Heat oven to 350ºF with oven racks in the lower and upper thirds.
Butter two baking sheets.
Work with one ball of dough at a time; roll out to 1/8-inch thickness between
sheets of lightly floured wax or parchment paper. Cut into shapes and place
on cool, buttered cookie sheets. Work in batches and keep the remaining dough
chilled until ready to cut.
For the best defined shapes, chill the cookies on the baking sheets before
Sprinkle the tops of the cookies with decorative sugar.
Bake until bottoms just begin to brown, about 8 minutes.
Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Yield: 3 dozen cookies
* Five-spice powder is available in Asian markets and most supermarkets.