The origin of Chinese Five Spice is based on the five elements of nature: fire, water, wood, earth, and metal. According to traditional Chinese medicine, each of the five elements are perfectly balanced together in each human body -- and when they are imbalanced, illness can result. So, really, you could argue eating these cookies is actually a matter of *health* 😊
But all joking aside, Chinese Five Spice is an amazing addition to desserts -- the star anise and fennel heralds traditional Italian yuletide pastries while the Szechuan peppercorn adds a taste not unlike Scandinavian pepper nut cookies. The other spices used -- cinnamon and cloves -- speak for themselves.
I added some white chocolate chips because I love the variety in texture, but the cookies would be just as delicious without them. They're some of my favorites and I hope you will enjoy them as much as I do!
CHINESE FIVE SPICE SUGAR COOKIES
Servings: 36 cookies
Time: 45 minutes
2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups white sugar
1 cup butter, softened (no skimping on this part!)
2/3 cup white chocolate chips
1 tbsp Chinese Five Spice (different companies have different blends, but I enjoy Natural Plus Green)
1.5 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
In a small bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, Chinese Five Spice, and baking powder. Set aside.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. Make sure the butter has been softened -- the recipe just isn't the same if you use cold (or microwaved into a semi-warm state) butter.
Beat in the egg and vanilla. Gradually blend in the dry ingredients.
If you have time, let it rest in the fridge to let all the flavors really blend well together. If not possible, no worries, and go straight to adding the white chocolate chips.
Roll rounded teaspoonfuls of dough into balls, and place onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Make sure to space them out -- they increase in size a fair amount.
Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. They might be puffy but don't worry; they will deflate a bit once out of the oven. Let stand for a few minutes before removing.
Note for anyone overwhelmed with holiday baking: When I'm feeling lazy, I often just use the Betty Crocker sugar cookie mix bag, following the directions on the back and adding the Chinese Five Spice and chocolate chips. I probably shouldn't say this, but it's honestly just as good!
. . . and on the cookie pan, in the kitchen with unfortunately *horrible* lighting: