Lior Lev Sercarz is carrying a black backpack and pulling a small wheeled suitcase as he walks through midtown Manhattan. Looking like a kindly, modern-day peddler, with striking blue eyes and a beard, the 39-year-old “spiceologist to the stars” crosses West 52nd Street. He glides down an escalator and enters the back door of Le Bernardin, Eric Ripert’s Michelin three-star restaurant. Pulling his wares, Sercarz twists and turns through the warren of corridors until he reaches the kitchen. It is 5 p.m. on a Friday. He is two hours late. No one seems to mind.
- 6tablespoons, unsalted European butter, softened
- 2tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 6tablespoons sugar
- 1large egg
- ½teaspoon vanilla
- 1 ½cups all-purpose unbleached flour
- 2teaspoons anise seed
- 1teaspoon coarse sea salt
- 2tablespoons Pernod or other licorice liqueur
- 1tablespoon orange blossom water
Yield: About 64 small cookies
Adapted from Lior Lev Sercarz
- Step 1
Cream the butter, olive oil, and sugar in an electric mixer equipped with the paddle. Stir in the egg and the vanilla. Gradually add the flour a little at a time. Finally, sprinkle in the anise and then the salt. Do not over-mix; the salt should not dissolve or break apart. Roll the dough into a ball, flatten into a 1-inch-thick round disc, and wrap in Saran Wrap. Let the dough rest for at least an hour in the refrigerator.
- Step 2
Preheat the oven to 350°F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Step 3
Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to 1/8-inch thick. Cut with a 1 ½-inch round cookie cutter.
- Step 4
Gently place cutouts on the lined baking sheets. Bake for about 12-14 minutes, or until the cookie bottoms are golden brown.
- Step 5
Mix the Pernod and orange blossom water in a small bowl. Using a pastry brush, brush the mixture on each cookie. Then use a metal spatula to gently remove each cookie from the baking sheet to a cooling rack. Serve when cool.
Variation: For a Ginger-Cardamom Butter Cookie, substitute 2 tablespoons chopped candied ginger and ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom for the anise and salt. Substitute Canton, or other ginger liqueur, for the Pernod.