I recently shared this Cream & Honey Cookies with Fennel Sugar recipe on my newsletter (which by the way, you should totally sign up for), and I just loved it so much that I thought it should have its time to shine on the blog. This cookie recipe is what I like to call “cookies for adults,” because, well, it’s a very mature, grown-up cookie recipe. It’s one of those cookies that kids would hate, but it’s not for them! It’s for us, the people who pay taxes and enjoy the occasional negroni.
So, we have this dream cookie. A high-gluten (more on that later) masterpiece that will challenge your tastebuds but not your technique, which is how I’ve liked to play it lately. I go for either simple techniques paired with new ingredients, or new techniques paired with familiar ingredients. I can dabble in both at the same time, but that leans towards risking a recipe for disaster. And since this is the perfect Thanksgiving cookie recipe, I’m not going to risk anything. Not this holiday season.
This is a chewy, crinkly-topped cookie with a fudgy center and honey and fennel notes throughout. The inspiration for this cookie came from ACQ Bread Co. A phenomenal bakery that has a stall at the Carrol Garden Farmers’ Market each Sunday. If you visit, get the Living Bread and a fermented cookie. Thank me later.
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Why use fennel seeds in a cookie?
This recipe uses fennel seeds, which give the cookie a warm and slightly spicy edge. The seeds make this cookie particularly comforting and perfect for the holiday season, so don’t knock it ’til you try it! I know that you’ll be a changed person after trying these cookies.
This recipe was inspired by their Bee Pollen and Fennel Cookie, which I don’t think is currently in their rotation, but I can only hope and dream that they bring it back. It was nutty, chewy and had just a touch of fennel seeds. Not enough to make you sad in memories of black licorice, but enough to be like “Wow, I am really eating a grown-up cookie right now.” Needless to say, it had me hooked.
I didn’t want to recreate their exact cookie, but I knew in my next cookie I wanted two things:
- That same chewy, fudgy, dense texture with a crinkly top.
- Just a touch, A TOUCH, of fennel, paired with a touch, A TOUCH, of honey.
The result is this recipe, which I think fulfills my goals. It’s a cookie lover’s dream.
Why you should bake high-gluten cookies
Typically, cookie recipes tell you to stir in the dry ingredients with the wet ingredients by hand. This makes sense, because it limits gluten development, which gives you the highest chance of a soft, tender cookie. Yet for this cookie, I was chasing the chew-factor, almost like a really dense brownie.
Gluten forms when flour and water are mixed together, and the more wet a batter or dough is, the higher the likelihood of forming strong gluten strains. This works in our favor in this recipe, because cookie doughs by nature aren’t a very wet dough, and the risk of building up too much gluten in a cookie dough is relatively low. So where overmixing a cake batter can be catastrophic, heavily mixing a cookie dough can lead to some pretty wonderful results.
I started experimenting with this method after having a few too many bakery cookies that were irresistibly chewy. That was because, in commercial kitchens, they use their huge mixers for most cookie doughs, making their gluten development automatically higher than the home bakers. I messed around with this hypothesis and can confirm: mixing does so much more than we give it credit for.
This recipe calls for you to continue to use your stand mixer after you add the dry ingredients. We’re going big on gluten, whipping it into an almost fluffy dough.
And I know, I know: “but what if I still want that tender cookie?” – do not fear! I designed the cream and honey in this recipe to give you a tender enough batter that mixing the dough to a more developed, gluten-filled place will give you the best of both worlds. Tender, moist center – chewy, crispy edges. (and PS – undermixing might lead to a flatter, greasier cookie. This girl is meant for gluten.)
So trust me, you can mix hard on this one! High-gluten cookies are the future. *I think*
Looking for more holiday cookie recipes?
If there’s one thing I love in the fall, it’s a warm cookie.
And that’s everything for this Cream & Honey Cookies with Fennel Sugar!
And of course feel free to leave any questions, comments or reviews! This is the best place to reach me, and I’d love to hear from you <3
Cream & Honey Cookies with Fennel Sugar
- 1 small saucepan
- 1 Stand mixer
- 113 grams salted butter 8 tablespoons
- 50 grams raw honey 2 tablespoons
- 30 grams heavy cream 2 tablespoons
- 40 grams pumpkin purée 2 tablespoons
- 110 grams granulated sugar 1/2 cup
- 40 grams dark brown sugar 1/3 cup, lightly packed
- 105 grams all-purpose flower 3/4 cup
- 70 grams whole wheat flour 1/2 cup
- 1 teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon each of allspice, nutmeg and clove
- 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
- 2 tablespoons turbinado sugar
- Evenly stagger two racks in the oven and preheat to 375°F.
- First, brown the butter. Set a small pan or saucepan over medium heat. Add the butter and let it fully melt. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for 2-3 minutes or until the butter begins to fizz and foam. Stirring often, let the milk solids separate and begin to brown at the bottom of the pan. When the butter is a deep brown, around 2-3 more minutes, transfer it to a small heat-proof bowl.
- Place the bowl with the brown butter within a second bowl of ice water and mix for 2-3 minutes or until the brown butter becomes a paste.
- Add the solidified brown butter, honey, heavy cream, pumpkin and sugars to a stand mixer. Use the paddle attachment and mix on medium speed for 3-4 minutes, or until fluffy.
- While that is mixing, whisk together the flours, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and clove.
- Add the dry ingredients to the stand mixer and mix on medium speed, scraping down the sides every few minutes. Mix for 5-6 minutes or until the dough looks fluffy and well combined.
- Using a spice grinder or mortar and pestle, grind together the fennel and sugar to make a blend with the fennel seeds mostly broken, but not all crushed. Transfer to a bowl.
- Roll the dough into six loose balls, a little over 3 ounces each. Dip the tops in the fennel sugar and place sugar-side-up on two parchment-lined baking sheets
- Bake for 12-14 minutes, or until the tops are crackly and the cookies.