I’ve had a small bottle of Chinese Five Spice sitting in my cupboard since I first made homemade Pho years ago. I have never used it for anything other than pho, ever. It’s weird how we do that. We only think of something in one insular way. Kind of like when you were a kid and you couldn’t imagine your teachers having lives outside of the classroom – as if they only lived and breathed for their precious pupils and never went on dates, had families, or shopped at Target. Our tiny, underdeveloped brains just couldn’t process that kind of information. If, God forbid, you ever actually ran into a teacher while she was out with friends drinking beers at the local pizza parlor, you were instantly mortified and simultaneously fascinated. There is an unspoken rule, teachers can’t have lives. That’s just the way it is.
Thankfully my badass, super talented blogging and baking buddy Rebecca Firth of displacedhousewife.com, opened my eyes to a whole new world of holiday spices in the November | December issue of Bake From Scratch magazine. Her Cranberry Streusel Bundt Cake graces the cover, and hidden inside is a magical untapped world of spice nirvana. This drop dead gorgeous cake is all spiced up with an unexpected twist, Chinese Five Spice powder. She’s got 4 more recipes that rely on that Chinese Five Spice for full on flavor. This brilliant move has awakened my spicy senses to all kinds of new and exciting spice replacement ideas.
I took a cue from Becky’s recipe playbook and incorporated that underutilized spice jar in my recipe for Chinese Five Spice Iced Oatmeal Cookies. They’re a whole lot like those classic iced oatmeal cookies from back in the day, but with a grown up hit of spicy warmth. I am a sucker for extra thick rolled oats, so I whizzed them up in the food processor for a more consistent texture. The soft chew of these Chinese Five Spice Iced Oatmeal Cookies and the warm notes of cinnamon, fennel, cloves, star anise and white pepper mix it up in a surprising punch of spice that hits you right where you never knew you wanted it. These textural little cookies get all glazed up with a glossy sweet, icing made from powdered sugar and whole milk for added holiday sass.
A big thank you to Becky for the inspiration to try something new and unexpected in my baking repertoire. It’s such a simple change to a basic cookie recipe but these Chinese Five Spice Iced Oatmeal Cookies are now a family favorite.
And, a shout out to all of my grade school teachers out there. Kids are weirdos. Sorry for not being able to handle the fact that you had actual lives. If I saw you out now, I’d buy you a beer instead of cowering behind the pinball machine. Can I offer you a batch of these Chinese Five Spice Iced Oatmeal Cookies as a consolation prize, Mrs. Steele?
These soft & chewy Chinese Five Spice Iced Oatmeal Cookies are loaded with a surprising punch of spice that hits you with warmth & a sweet icing to balance out that spice.
- 2 cups extra thick rolled oats
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons Chinese Five Spice
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 cup unsalted butter - at room temperature
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs - at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 2 cups powdered sugar - sifted
- 3 tablespoons whole milk
Preheat oven at 350° F and line baking sheets with parchment paper or silpat mats.
Put the thick rolled oats in a food processor and pulse for 10 -20 seconds until the oats are coarsely chopped. In a mixing bowl whisk together the chopped oats with the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and Chinese Five Spice.
In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar for 5-7 minutes until light and fluffy. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl with a spatula a few times.
Adjust the mixer to a low speed and slowly add the eggs, one at a time, and vanilla. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl once. - I like to crack the eggs and add the vanilla in a measuring cup before adding it to the butter and sugar mixture to avoid eggshells.
Gradually add the dry ingredients in 2-3 additions with the mixer on low speed. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl to fully incorporate the butter and sugar and blend until well mixed.
Use a cookie scoop to form the dough into ping pong size balls. Arrange on a prepared cookie sheet and press into 1/2 inch thick disks, leaving a couple of inches between each cookie.
Bake for 10-12 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time. The edges of the cookies will begin to brown and the middle should appear slightly underdone. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets. They will continue to cook and should be crunchy on the edges with a warm and chewy center.
Whisk together the sifted powdered sugar and milk until smooth and creamy and the glaze runs off of the whisk in a smooth ribbon.
Gently drizzle the icing onto the tops of the cooled cookies, spreading to the the edges. Allow the icing to set before serving.