It's a bit of an old fashioned German recipe and it goes very well with a nice cup of tea not only for Christmas. In fact it could be the kind of biscuit served at an East Frisian tea ceremony.
It's a region in North Germany where tea drinking is a very important part of socialising or just to unwind. Traditionally you'll put a kandis-sugar ("Kluntje" or rock candy) in the tea cup first, then pour in the tea and then add a little cream so it looks like a little cloud floating on top. You are not suppose to stir the tea and drink the cream first, then the tea and the last bit would be the very sweet tea with the dissolved kandis-sugar. I usually skip the cream and also stir my tea as I like the crackling sound the rock-candy makes in the hot tea. Either way it's a beautiful tradition and it is still practiced in East Frisian.
125 g butter, softened
100 g caster sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla sugar
1 egg white
100 g cornflour
100 g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon anise seed, crushed in a mortar and pestle
icing sugar, to dust
1. Line baking trays with baking paper. Whisk butter and both sugars with an electric mixer until pale and creamy.
2. Add egg white and whisk again. Mix cornflour, plain flour, baking powder and anise seed and add, one tablespoon at a time to the butter-sugar mix. Whisk until combined.
3. Tip out and roll dough, on a lightly floured surface, into a roll about 5 cm in diameter. Wrap in cling wrap and chill for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
4. Unwrap and cut into 0.5 cm slices, lay on a baking tray, leave a little room between each, and bake in oven for 10-12 minutes. They should only be lightly brown around the edge.
5. Cool on tray completely then dust liberally with sieved icing sugar.