Five-spice is made with a rotating cast of characters depending where you are but in this recipe Caroline Wright grinds together star anise, cinnamon, fennel, black peppercorns, and cloves.
The spice blend is added to a simple peanut butter cookie recipe made with maple peanut butter. Before baking, the dough is rolled into a sugar-spice mixture using a portion of the five-spice.
With the spiced flavor and the maple peanut butter echoing the sort of molasses flavor spice cookies are known for, you can think of this as a peanut butter cookie that went through a gingersnap-type makeover.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Total time: 25 minutes (plus 1 hour cooling)
Yield: 24 cookies
2 star anise, broken into pieces
8 whole cloves
1 (1-inch) stick cinnamon, crushed
6 black peppercorns
⅛ teaspoon fennel seed
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup dark-brown sugar, firmly packed
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup Mighty Maple peanut butter
1 large egg
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Combine anise, cloves, cinnamon, peppercorns and fennel seed in a spice grinder and pulse to grind to a fine powder. (You should have about 2 teaspoons.) Combine 1/2 teaspoon spice mix with granulated sugar; set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and remaining spice mix; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine brown sugar, butter and peanut butter. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add egg and mix until incorporated. With mixer on low speed, gradually add flour mixture just until combined.
3. Using a cookie scoop or level tablespoon measure, portion dough into 1-inch balls. Roll balls in reserved sugar-spice mixture, and transfer to parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing about 1-inch apart. Use the bottom of a glass to flatten cookies to about 1/2-inch thick; sprinkle tops of cookies with additional spiced sugar mixture. Bake until cookies are fragrant and beginning to brown on the edges, about 12 minutes. Let cookies cool 5 minutes on baking sheet before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.