Anisette Cookies

The Italian Anisette Cookie.  The familiar “S” shaped cookie with the white icing and colored sprinkles.  It just wouldn’t be an Italian Cookie Tray without it!  Many may not like the distinct licorice taste from the oil of anise so at times I’ve left it out to please those who were not familiar with it or in finding the crushed herb seeds in their cookies!

But for those of us raised on these cookies, their unique taste, shape and presence at Christmas is a comforting treat of family traditions and memories.  These were the cookies I watched my mother shape and bake year after year.  And these were the cookies I had to promise not to overload with sprinkles!!  Both the shape of the ‘S’ and figure ‘8” were common.  Lemon or almond can be substituted for the anise extract.  Their lightly sweet taste is again as most Italian cookies, perfect for dipping in espresso…or wine!

Anisette Cookies

1 1/2 sticks of unsalted butter

1 1/4 cups sugar

6 large eggs, room temp

1/2 cup milk, room temp

5 cups unbleached all purpose flour

6 generous teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons anise extract

Preheat oven to 400.  In a large bowl sift together the flour, baking soda and salt, set aside.   In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar.  Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well.  Mix in the anise.  Add in the milk and flour, alternating portions of each until all combined.  Turn dough onto a floured board and knead until dough is firm and not sticky, adding more flour if necessary.

Break off a handful of dough at a time and roll into long pencil, cut into 3 inch pieces.  Shape into ‘S’ shape on ungreased cookie sheet.  These cookies will puff up.  Bake approximately 8-10 minutes.  Remove to cool on rack, then frost.  Makes about 5-7 dozen depending on size of cookie.

Fosting:   In a large bowl, melt 1 tablespoon of butter.  Add in 1/2 pound of confectioners’ sugar.  Stir in milk, about 4-5 tablespoons, stirring to incorporate well, to a desired consistency for frosting the cookies.  Brush on cookies, apply sprinkles and return to rack to set.

32 thoughts on “Anisette Cookies

  1. Wow, they are great shapes and sorry, i am one of those who does not like the flavour but big smile i can use the lemon instead! thank you darling, have a great day..hope you get time to sit down and have a cup of tea with one of these beauties! c

  2. I did not put the crushed anise in these cookies but have at other times. My mother’s note was for 1-2 tablespoons of anise seed. Not too many people like that, so I did leave it out. I do like anise, do you?

  3. I am not a big fan of anise but I don’t mind eating them if the flavor is on the mild side. This recipe reminds me of my Zia Rita in Italy! haven’t been baking much this season, my kids keep reminding me of that too. Wish you had a bakery that I could shop at, I’d buy all the cookies you posted! lol

  4. It’s been ages since I’ve seen these, Linda, and yours here are exactly as I remember them. I can almost smell the anise! Although we were welcome to them, anise-flavored cookies were usually enjoyed by the adults with their coffee after meals but we were hardly deprived. We kids had plenty of others to choose from. (Love the plate, by the way!)

  5. Another great cookie recipe! Thanks for sharing and for the record, I LOVE anise. Both the extract and the seeds. I use them both in my German Christmas Springerle cookies.

    1. Great question! I really don’t know the history behind the shape! I did a quick google search too but didn’t find anything. I’ve always taken it for what it was and never thought of it! Now, I’m going to continue to ask around to see if there was anything specific to the shape!

  6. Sunday is my day for doing some Christmas baking and I´m going to have to add these to the list! We love anise, so I´ll def include it. Adore that plate – Christmas colours and the Italian flag in one 🙂

  7. Ah, thank goodness you gave another option for anise. I just can’t handle it. A little bit of the seed flavouring in bread is wonderful, but if it’s the primary flavour it makes me sad 🙁 Now, with almond, or especially lemon? Now that’s something I could go for! They look so cute too 😀

    By the way, did you solve your hosting problems in the end?

    1. Thanks for all your advice and help with the hosting…I’m going to make it my January goal to get it done. This month has just been too busy!! You are certainly well knowledged in this and I can’t tell you enough how grateful I am to get some direction!

  8. I always appreciate being introduced to different styles and traditions – love the distinctive S shape and how it’s linked in to memories of your mom… nothing like that. Anise is splendid in my books. Such a pretty plate Linda.

  9. These are too cute! I’m not a fan of black licorice so I’d probably exclude the anise, but love the idea of substituting lemon or almond instead! Now that is something I would very much enjoy. 😉

  10. Lovely cookies and so traditional in an Italian home. I’m one of the anise lovers but know how it might be too strong of a flavor with the seeds included. I have always enjoyed these cookies because they are not too sweet and have a lovely aroma.

  11. Just whipped up batches of these cookies and sent a huge tray to my neighbors’ house. As a non-italian (and not an anise fan), I wasn’t sure if they would come out right. My neighbor got tears in his eyes as he bit into one and said they were “just like the ones my Aunt Anna used to make.” His wife asked where I found the recipe! A traditional cookie that tasted good and bought up memories of Christmas past – they both said to tell you “Grazie”! (I made lemon ones for my house, and they are delicious)!

    1. Thank you Donna! I am so glad to hear that these cookies turned out good for you and that it brought back wonderful memories for your neighbors. I am so pleased that you took the time to leave me a comment!

      Wishing you a wonderful holiday season!!

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