This is my mother’s anise cookie recipe. Of course, because she never wrote anything down, I had to actually sit down and make sense of this thing. I’m posting this now because it’s the Christmas season, and this is a great treat to have in the house on Christmas morning. These are awesome with a nice cup of hot coffee.
I use anise oil in this recipe, not anise extract. They are much more authentic when you use oil and, because the oil has a very strong flavor, you use less than you would extract. It is not always easy to find anise oil. You may have to order it online, or find a local Italian shop. Luckily, I have one close to home.
I prefer my anise cookies without icing, but I realize I’m in the minority here. I’ve included the icing recipe. By the way, this makes a shitload of cookies, but they have great staying power.
6 cups of all-purpose flour
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 lb butter, softened
2 cups sugar
1 cup milk
1/2 tsp anise oil
Mix together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
Cream together the softened butter, sugar, anise oil. Then, add the eggs one at a time, mixing in between.
Once you’ve creamed the wet ingredients, add the flour and milk. Start with flour and end with flour, adding a little at a time.
It’s important to wrap the dough and chill it overnight before actually making the cookies.
When you’re ready to bake the cookies, preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Here’s the important part. I make the “dropped” cookies, like in the photo. I also form the dough into anise rings, and I don’t mean small rings. Roll a long log of dough, and form into a circle. Slightly press it down. You can cut these into wedges. I like to make these because these are the ones I leave without frosting. Do not ask me for the logic here. That’s just the way my mother did it.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes, or until they are slightly brown on the top. Once the cookies have cooled, apply the icing and the decorations (see icing directions below).
2 cups confectioners sugar
10 tbsp milk
1/4 tsp anise oil
Place the confectioners sugar in a bowl. Add the anise oil. Then add the milk a little at a time, stirring in between additions. You should be able to apply the icing with a spoon. It should not be thick. If you think you need to add a little more milk, do not hesitate to do so.