Fennel-Citrus Greek Tea Cookies

For my Greek grandmother, these treats are called kourabiedes. When I was a kid, she made them every year. And, to my annoyance, I couldn’t sneak one without getting caught—a cloud of powdered sugar would cover my shirt. These days I eat them in “the cookie stance”: neck extended, feet wide apart. Trust me.
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Fennel-Citrus Greek Tea Cookies

Recipe by Cecily McAndrews

Active TimeTotal TimeServings

40 minutes

1 hour, 20 minutes

Makes about 4 dozen

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 tsp. fennel seeds
  • 3 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups walnuts
  • 1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 tsp. finely grated orange zest
  • 4 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

Preparation

1. Arrange the racks in the top and bottom thirds of the oven; preheat to 350°. In a dry small skillet, toast the fennel seeds, stirring often, until aromatic, 2 to 3 minutes. Let cool. Transfer to a spice mill and process until finely ground. In a food processor, pulse 3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar and the walnuts until the nuts are finely ground. Add the zests and pulse once or twice to combine.

2. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat the butter and vanilla until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the fennel seeds, walnut mixture, flour, and salt; beat on low until just blended. Roll tablespoonfuls of dough into balls, then form into crescent shapes. Divide between 2 parchment paper–lined baking sheets, spacing about 1 1/2 inches apart.

3. Bake the cookies, rotating and reversing the sheets halfway through, until pale golden, about 15 minutes. (The bottoms of the cookies should be golden brown.) Transfer the sheets to wire racks and let cool for 20 to 30 minutes. Place 1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar in a medium bowl. While the cookies are still warm, roll them in the sugar, then return them to the racks to cool completely. Store the cookies in the remaining 1 cup sugar in an airtight container.