I love the malted nuttiness that candied fennel seeds give cookies, not to mention their bitter aniseed flavor. In my mind it's that candy coating, the same way M&Ms somehow lend their own taste to cookie dough (beyond just chocolate). But these are just theories. Speaking of which, feel free to replace the 1/2 cup fennel seeds (which you can buy on Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com...) with M&Ms. Don't skimp on whipping the butter, sugar, and eggs for the full 10 minutes—that's how you'll get the gorgeous crinkles and unutterable chewiness, which is my preferred chocolate chip cookie texture.
Adapted slightly from "Jaay's Best Ever Chocolate Chip Cookies." —Eric Kim
Sift the dry ingredients (flour and baking soda) and set aside.
Cream the butter and sugars for a good 5 minutes; add the vanilla, eggs, and salt and cream for another 5 minutes. To these wet ingredients, stir in the dry ingredients, along with the chocolate chips and fennel seeds.
Scoop dough with a medium-sized ice cream scoop onto a couple half-sheet pans lined with parchment paper (these are pretty fat cookies, so space them out, 6 to a pan).
Place both sheet pans in the oven and bake cookies for 15 minutes. Once out of the oven, top cookies with a sprinkle of flaky sea salt.
Eric Kim is the Table for One columnist at Food52. Formerly the managing editor at Food Network and a PhD candidate in literature at Columbia University, he is currently working on his first cookbook, to be published by Clarkson Potter in Spring 2022. His favorite writers are William Faulkner, John Steinbeck, and Ernest Hemingway, but his hero is Nigella Lawson. You can find his bylines at Saveur, Bon Appétit, and The New York Times and follow him on Twitter @ericjoonho. Born and raised in Georgia, Eric lives in a tiny shoebox in Manhattan with his dog, Quentin "Q" Compson.