It’s National Cookie Day, and to celebrate this grand occasion (I think it’s worth a day off from work and school, whattya think?) I wanted to share a recipe much similar to the one my half-Italian grandmother made during Christmas. If you love the taste of anise (licorice) then you’ll certainly love these.
Pictured above with my Aunt Sandy, my Grandma Irma always had her coffee table adorned with platters of various cookies and fudge she made during the holidays. Us kids would run to that table before having Christmas dinner and nosh on the sweet treats despite our parents’ scolding. But she didn’t mind. She loved it that we loved them so much. She, too, was a cookie monster, and devoured them with us when the parents weren’t looking. I’m pretty sure I got my sweet tooth and love of baking from her.
Italian Anisette Cookies
Recipe adapted from Vittles and Bits
Yields about 2 1/2 dozen
FOR THE COOKIES
3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoon pure anise extract
FOR THE ICING
1 1/2 C. powdered sugar
4-5 T. milk (first try 4, then add a little at a time if necessary)
1/2 t. anise extract
1/2 cup nonpareils aka “Jimmy” sprinkles
Preheat oven to 400 degrees, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a medium-sized bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Set aside.
In large-sized bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter, sugar, and eggs on medium-low speed until combined. Lower the speed and gradually add in the flour mixture, scraping the sides with a rubber spatula as needed. Increase the speed to medium-low, and whip till a dough forms. It may be a little dry. That’s OK.
Using a small ice cream or cookie scoop or tablespoon, scoop the balls of dough and roll them into uniform-sized balls.
Place the dough onto a prepared baking sheet, and bake for about 7-10 minutes (depending on your oven’s convection) till puffed and lightly golden. Allow the cookies to cool for one minute before transferring to a wire rack.
Once the cookies have completely cooled, sift your powdered sugar through a sifter till all clumps are gone. This way, the icing doesn’t come out chunky. Whisk in the milk and anise until smooth. Check for consistency, it should be somewhat runny.
Now dip the tops of the cookies into icing, and then finish with Jimmy sprinkles. Allow for the icing to set completely. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container.