Lemon-Anise Shortbread Wreaths

Lemon-Anise Shortbread Wreaths

  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Servings: 14 to 16

Shaped like wreaths, these festive cookies are the perfect addition to a box of holiday cookies to send to your loved ones. The cookies get a double dose of lemon thanks to zest in the dough and juice in the glaze, while anise extract infuses them with a slightly sweet licorice flavour. Kids will love to lend a hand—they can roll out the dough and help cut out the cookies, then dip the cooled treats in the glaze.


For the shortbread:

  • 16 Tbs. (2 sticks) (8 oz./250 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (2 oz./60 g) confectioners’ sugar
  • Grated zest of 2 lemons
  • 1 Tbs. anise extract
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 cups (10 oz./315 g) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt

For the glaze:

  • 1 cup (4 oz./125 g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice, plus more as needed
  • Green food colouring as needed
  • Directions:

    • To make the shortbread, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat together the butter and confectioners’ sugar on medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the lemon zest, anise extract and vanilla and beat until combined, about 1 minute. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the flour and salt and beat on low speed until just combined, about 1 minute, then increase the mixer speed to medium and beat until fully combined, about 1 minute more.
    • Transfer the dough to a work surface and shape into a disk. Place on a piece of parchment paper and roll out 1/4 inch (6 mm) thick. Slide the parchment onto a baking sheet and cover the dough with another piece of parchment. Refrigerate until firm, at least 30 minutes or up to 1 hour.
    • Position 1 rack in the upper third and 1 rack in the lower third of an oven and preheat to 350°F (180°C). Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
    • Transfer the dough, still on the parchment, to a work surface. Remove the top piece of parchment. Dip a fluted round cookie cutter about 2 1/2 inches (6 cm) in diameter in flour and use to cut out the cookies. Dip a fluted round cookie cutter about 1/2 inch (12 mm) in diameter to cut a hole in the center of each cookie. Transfer the cookies to the prepared baking sheets, spacing the cookies at least 1 inch (2.5 cm) apart. Gather up and reroll the scraps and cut out more cookies. Refrigerate the cookies for 20 minutes.
    • Bake until the cookies are lightly golden on the bottom and around the edges, about 12 minutes, rotating the baking sheets about halfway through the cooking time. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack and let cool completely.
    • To make the glaze, in a shallow bowl, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice until smooth, adding more juice as needed to make a thick but pourable glaze. Put several drops of the food colouring into a small bowl. Dip a small, clean paintbrush or a skewer into the food colouring and dab onto the surface of the glaze, swirling briefly to create a feathery pattern on the top of the icing. Repeat once or twice more until the surface of the glaze is covered with green swirls, being careful not to overmix. (There should be distinct steaks of green in the white glaze; you don’t want the glaze to turn green.)
    • Dip the tops of the cookies in the glaze, letting any excess glaze drip back into the bowl, then transfer to a wire rack. Let the glaze harden for at least 15 minutes before serving. Makes 14 to 16 cookies.
    • Williams Sonoma Test Kitchen