Catalina Island Conservancy
Fennel, Foeniculum vulgare, is highly invasive in much of the United States and Canada. The Catalina Habitat Improvement and Restoration Program (CHIRP) of the Catalina Island Conservancy has developed this recipe for baking with the tender stems and green seeds of fennel.
Killer Fennel/Fennel Killer Molasses Cookies
Step 1: Collect and candy fennel.
Tender fennel stems and green immature seeds can be candied and used with this recipe. Tender fennel stems can be collected from plants when they are in the “bolting” phase as long as stems snap easily when bent. Stems should be peeled and chopped finely. Stems have a much milder anise (licorice) flavor than seeds. Add approx 1/2 cup sugar to 2 cups chopped fennel stems in a sauce pan and add just enough water to cover mixture. Simmer sugar and water until the majority of the liquid has evaporated and mixture is thick enough to not drip from a spoon. If using fennel seeds, add the same ratio of sugar to seeds but use 1/4 as much of the candied fennel in the final cookie recipe.
Step 2: Prepare cookie dough – makes approx 5 dozen cookies
3/4 cup margarine, melted
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup molasses
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 cups candied fennel
1/2 tsp ground cloves
In a medium bowl, mix together the melted margarine, 1 cup sugar, and egg until smooth. Stir in the molasses. Combine the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and cloves; blend into the molasses mixture and candied fennel. Cover and chill dough for 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spread dough on smooth, floured surface and roll fairly thin with rolling pin.
Cookies should be approx 3 inches in diameter.
Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Candied fennel burns easily so be sure to check cookies at 6 to 8 minutes and remove if they appear to be burning.